Dirk Nowitzki: Mavs Star Is Easily NBA's Top Player

Bob BajekAnalyst IIISeptember 29, 2011

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 12:  Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks reacts after making a three-pointer in the fourth quarter while taking on the Miami Heat in Game Six of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

When the NBA Lockout finally ends, Dallas Mavericks superstar Dirk Nowitzki will be by far the league's top player.

Nowitzki, a 33-year-old power forward, willed the Mavs to their first NBA title in June and directly outperformed NBA stars like Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant throughout the playoffs to demonstrate his dominance.

The German's postseason numbers were tremendous. Dirk was second in scoring average (27.7 points per game), third in win shares (3.6 wins), was fourth-best in player efficiency (25.2) and total rebounds (171)  and made 94.1 percent of his free throws (175-for-186), including a playoff record 24-for-24 performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the conference finals.

Dirk's offensive numbers are more impressive as he was the Mavs lone star and their No. 1 scoring option, as defenses would double and triple team him. The lanky 7-footer also posted 30 or more points six times and 40-plus twice while maintaining a .485 shooting percentage on primarily perimeter shooting.

Dirk won many playoff games during the final seconds, with four coming from the Western Conference Finals and NBA Finals.

Game 4 against the Thunder, Dirk scored 12 fourth-quarter points and made the game-tying free throws to send the game into overtime. He also made an assist to Jason Kidd for the go-ahead three for the win. Game 5 saw Dirk drill the game winning three in the final minute to send Dallas to the Finals.

In Game 2 against the Miami Heat in the Finals, Dirk made the game-winning layup using an injured left hand as he passed Chris Bosh with only 3.6 seconds left. No. 41 scored 10 points as well as the game winner with 14.4 ticks remaining in Game 4, despite battling the flu. Nowitzki's 62 fourth quarter points equaled the combined efforts of James and Wade.



The Mavs superstar is not just the best power forward in the game, he is the top player overall.

Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are argued to be the best, but Dirk handily disposed of them and their teams during the playoffs. Bryant looked exhausted in the semifinals and was simply overmatched by Dirk's vigorous play. James had a solid postseason, but did a strange fourth quarter disappearing act in the Finals.

Both Kobe and LeBron have star players around them (Kobe has Pau Gasol while BronBron has Wade and Bosh) that Nowitzki lacked. Dirk's supporting cast was like the Island of Misfit Toys, as Jason Kidd is on his way to retirement, Jason Terry is a sixth man and Shawn Marion is primarily a defensive threat.

Up and coming players like Durant and Rose are just not there yet. Durant could not slow down Dirk on switch offs with No. 41 swishing fade-aways over him. Durant has to work on his defense and not putting too much on his shoulders.

Rose needs to work on his passing, three-point shot and defense to be considered the best. 

Dirk has also been working hard during the lockout, as he played for the German national team in the European Championship. Overall, he was fourth in scoring (19.5 ppg) and eighth in rebounds (6.6 rpg).

And despite being 33, he is showing no signs of slowing down while playing some monster ball.

When games start again, expect Dirk to continue proving he's the NBA's top dog.

Bob Bajek is a freelance reporter and can be followed at Patch.com and Twitter.