Instead, the big man's unexpected return to the floor during their December 23 tilt with the San Antonio Spurs may have coincided with the low-point in what could wind up being the team's worst season of the past decade.
Granted, the Mavericks (12-16) suffered when they attempted to replace their former MVP. And with so many new faces logging major minutes, Dallas should anticipate some inconsistencies during this period.
But there are troubling signs seeping through the season's start that even Nowitzki can't solve.
To make matters worse, these signs are already apparent to the Dallas star.
According to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News, Nowitzki called the team's decision-making "horrible" following the team's disheartening 38-point loss to the Spurs.
The performance of the point guards has been a cause for concern all season long. With a revolving door at the position (Darren Collison, Derek Fisher and Dominique Jones have each started multiple games this season), coach Rick Carlisle is still searching for the elusive answer to his point guard woes.
In terms of talent, Collison should have the edge. He's a strong defender and capable ball-handler, but he's seemingly spent a chunk of the season in Carlisle's doghouse. Although he hasn't been banished from the floor, he has been held out of the starting lineup in 11 of the past 13 games.
Jones' NBA forecast looks brightest as an instant offense spark off the bench. He's explosive and knows how to score the basketball, but is more of a point guard by title only.
Fisher was supposed to be the reliable veteran presence for this backcourt, but a right knee injury forced the 38-year-old off the floor. He has since asked for and been granted his release from the team (according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein).
The team has also called up Chris Douglas-Roberts from the D-League Texas Legends. Although he's regarded as the top prospect in the NBA's de facto minor leagues, CDR doesn't come with the typical potential of his now former peers. The 25-year-old has already played three seasons in the NBA (all with the New Jersey Nets), most recently in 2010-11.
And even he's not a prototypical point guard.
The 6'7", 210-pound player is more of a scoring point-forward, whose career has been defined more by his scoring ability than any play-making talents.
Rodrigue Beaubois, the 25th pick of the 2009 draft, is the only other point guard on the Mavericks roster. But like many of his peers, he's more of a scorer than creator.
What's keeping him so low on the list is the fact that he may be the worst scorer of the bunch.
After bursting on to the NBA scene with a 51.8 field-goal percentage as a rookie, his production has nearly bottomed out just three seasons later. He shot just 42.2 percent from the field over the past two seasons, before connecting on a paltry 30.8 percent of his looks in 2012-13.
Dallas has the makings of a playoff roster, headlined by Nowitzki with his scoring, supported by first-year Maverick O.J. Mayo, with defensive stops coming courtesy of Shawn Marion, Dahntay Jones and Brandan Wright.
They have discovered that typically hard-to-find balance of inside-outside scoring, with fellow first-year Maverick Chris Kaman providing the interior scoring punch.
Despite this period of NBA history being widely recognized as the golden age of the point guard position, the Mavericks have failed to find the one player who can fit all of their moving parts together.
There's a reason this club invested so much in their offseason pursuit of Dallas native Deron Williams. It's the same reason that could spur a similar run at impending free agent Chris Paul over the coming summer.
That is, if the Mavericks are unable to lure away one of the likely available point guards when the trade deadline rolls around on February 21, 2013. The Dallas Morning News Mavericks beat writer Eddie Sefko characterized the team's odds at making a pre-deadline trade as being "very likely."
Toronto's Jose Calderon will likely be the position's biggest name on the trade market, but perhaps current Timberwolf (and former Maverick) J.J. Barea could become expendable with the return of Ricky Rubio.
Nowitzki's return might have rejuvenated postseason hopes around Dallas, but without some assistance from the front office, his comeback might only bring victories of the moral variety.
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