Dallas Mavericks: Is Dirk Nowitzki the NBA's Most Overrated Superstar?
When it comes to overrated NBA superstars I have heard the term applied to players such as Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade.
However, I have rarely heard Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki described in the same manner, and compared to the players above Nowitzki quite possibly is the most overrated of them all.
Don't get me wrong, I certainly appreciate Nowitzki's game and in my opinion he has always been one of the NBA's most unique players because of his size and perimeter skills.
Dirk has one of the prettiest jumpers in the NBA and his seven-foot frame and tendency to fall away while shooting the ball makes his shot virtually impossible to defend.
Nowitzki has also led his team to 10 consecutive 50 win seasons, and he has averaged 23 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists while shooting 47 percent from the field in his career.
In the postseason, Nowitzki has been even better as he has averaged 25.7 points per game and 10.7 rebounds, but the Mavericks failures in the playoffs have somewhat overshadowed his brilliant performances.
But Dallas' playoff struggles are only part of the issue, because there are flaws in Nowitzki's game that are often overlooked that contribute greatly to the notion that he may be overrated.
Nowitzki has decent rebounding numbers, but the only thing he really does very well is score, and for a true seven-footer he rarely uses his natural physical advantage in the post.
Nowitzki does have a back to the basket game, but more often than not he uses it to set up his jump shot rather than establishing position in the paint.
Some observers point to Nowitzki's rebounding numbers as evidence that he is not a one-dimensional player, but he has never averaged 10.0 rebounds per game in his career, and it could be argued that most of his rebounds are a result of his size, not his skill.
The Mavericks are primarily a jump shooting team, and when those shots miss Nowitzki's height gives him an advantage grabbing long rebounds on the perimeter.
In the paint Nowitzki is routinely pushed around by smaller players, and in some circles he has the reputation as a soft player.
Nowitzki has averaged 1.0 blocks per game over the course of the career, but it would be a stretch to call him an average individual defender, and he often struggles to guard shorter, quicker players on the perimeter.
And although Nowitzki has scored more than 20,000 points in his career most people outside of Dallas will define his legacy by his inability to win in the postseason.
People love to mention that LeBron has yet to win a NBA title in his career, but James has been to just as many NBA Finals' series as Nowitzki and the results were the same.
Every year we are fooled into believing that the Mavericks are a legitimate title contender on the strength of their latest 50 win season, and each year they go down in flames, sometimes in epic fashion.
The Mavericks' collapse in the 2006 NBA Finals against the Miami Heat cannot solely be laid at Nowitzki's feet, but he did struggle in key moments of the series and as the leader of the team he still shoulders most of the responsibility.
The San Antonio Spurs' loss to the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs saves Nowitzki and his Mavericks from the distinction of being the only one seed to lose to an eight seed since the NBA switched to a seven-game, first-round format.
But Dallas was still the first team to do it, and the Mavericks struggles didn't end with that historic loss to Golden State in 2007, because Dallas has made a habit of losing when they are favored to win in the postseason.
Last season Dallas was the West's second seed but suffered yet another first-round loss at the hands of the Spurs and even though the Mavericks were able to defeat their first-round playoff demons this season, the task ahead is much more difficult.
Maybe as the underdogs, Nowitzki and his Mavericks will seize the opportunity against the Los Angeles Lakers in the West semifinals and prove that his game is really not overrated and his team is truly a legitimate title threat.
But based on history you have to wonder if Nowitzki really has the moxie and the heart to reverse the curse that has plagued his career and the franchise.
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