How Dirk's Return Will Impact O.J. Mayo's and Chris Kaman's Hot Starts
According to Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas, Dallas Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki will resume basketball activities within the next two weeks. Nowitzki is also reportedly targeting a mid-December return to game action.
The question is, how will Dirk's return impact O.J. Mayo's and Chris Kaman's hot starts?
Thus far this season, Mayo has been nothing short of phenomenal. He's presently averaging 20.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game with a slash line of .486/.524/.846.
As for Kaman, the big man is averaging 14.2 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game in 28.3 minutes of action.
Together, the duo has led the Mavericks to a strong enough record of 7-8 to keep them in position to make a postseason push upon Nowitzki's return. Although a sub-.500 record is not spectacular, it proves how strong Dirk's supporting cast has become.
Thankfully, Nowitzki's return is mere weeks away.
It can only be expected that Nowitzki will experience a period of less-than-desired results upon his return to action. After all, Nowitzki hasn't seen an NBA court since the Mavericks' May 5 postseason showdown with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Even still, Dirk has managed to stay positive and increase his rehabilitation workload.
"I guess after every surgery you have some ups and downs," said Nowitzki, a 15-year veteran who had never undergone knee surgery. "You have some good days and you do a little more and you have a couple bad days.
"There were tons of bad days there a couple weeks ago. But it's getting better, and that's why we increased the workload starting yesterday."
Optimism surrounding Nowitzki's return to action is undeniable and justified. The question remains, however, of how Dirk's comeback will impact the likes of Mayo and Kaman?
Will Dirk Nowitzki's return from injury propel the Dallas Mavericks to postseason legitimacy?
Working Alongside Chris Kaman
Chris Kaman is known more for his interior toughness and low-post defense. What has been most impressive about Kaman's game thus far, however, has been his proficiency as a scorer—specifically how efficient he has been from mid-range.
As of November 28, Kaman is shooting 51.5 percent from 16 to 23 feet. He's also shooting 46.3 percent from 10 to 15 feet, which displays how lethal a spot-up shooter Kaman has been for the Mavs' penetrating guards.
He's also shooting 59.2 percent in the paint, which proves his worth as an interior player alongside the floor spacing Nowitzki.
Defensively speaking, Kaman will provide Nowitzki with what he missed at center during the 2011-12 NBA season. Kaman is an enforcer in the paint, a reliable help defender and a shot-altering defender who overcomes his short arms with overwhelming on-ball pressure.
In other words, he's the perfect defensive power to complement Nowitzki's offensive finesse.
Thus far this season, 83.6 percent of O.J. Mayo's shot attempts have been jump shots. On those attempts, Mayo is shooting a spectacular 48.1 percent due to the Mavericks' uncanny ability to utilize his greatest strength—working off of screens and curling from mid-range.
As was previously alluded to, Mayo is averaging 20.8 points per game on 48.6 percent shooting from the floor and 52.4 percent from beyond the arc. He's put up 82 three-pointers, which is more than he has attempted from any other distance.
Thus establishing Nowitzki's benefit.
What Dirk is best at is working his way into the post and knocking down his signature turnaround jump shot. What this accomplishes is spreading the floor and providing lanes for motion scorers to work the baseline and wings without an opposing power forward interfering.
Considering Mayo is shooting 38.9 percent on corner threes and 55.2 percent above the break, this makes Mayo the perfect complement to Nowitzki's unparalleled abilities.
What should help both Mayo and Nowitzki is the fact that O.J. is shooting 50.4 from the field and 60.5 percent from beyond the arc when the Mavericks are down by five points or less. This certainly provides an interesting dynamic to an offense led by one of the greatest clutch performers in NBA history.
Consider Mayo, Kaman and Nowitzki to be a harmonious trio in D-Town.
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