It’s too bad Dirk Nowitzki is part of the same generation as Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan. There are times we end up forgetting about him in the best-power-forwards-of-his-time conversation because of it.
Now, just as Duncan and KG have already done, Dirk may be making a switch from the 4 to the 5.
Here’s what the lifetime Maverick had to say about the possibility of sliding down a position, via ESPN’s Tim MacMahon:
I’m ready for everything, whatever it may be. I think there’s a few dominant forces at center that I’d rather not see, but other than that, we all know that it’s not a post-up league anymore. It’s a pick-and-roll league, it’s a movement league, it’s a transition, line-your-guy-up, drive-it league. The league has gone smaller and smaller and smaller, so if that’s an option for us, great.
This information became relevant Monday evening, when the Mavs got a win with Dirk actually starting at the 5. According to Basketball-Reference, he has played 30 percent of his minutes there this season. He’s played about that much center in his career, as well. More importantly, as MacMahon also notes, the Mavs have outscored opponents by 15.4 points per 48 minutes in the 215 minutes that Nowitzki has lined up at the center position this season, per NBAwowy. Of course, such dominance would probably regress over a larger sample size. Coach Rick Carlisle would no longer be picking his spots with Dirk at the 5 if Nowitzki went into full-time-center mode.
But Nowitzki is right. The game is different these days. Dirk guarding DeMarcus Cousins could be a disaster, and his work in the pick-and-roll and as a help defender could really hurt the Mavs D if he had to be the anchor. But he’d be a real problem on the other end for many opposing centers who hate having to crawl all the way out to the perimeter to guard.
For a Mavs team which has lost six of its last seven to fall to the No. 8 seed in the West at 34-34, maybe shaking it up a bit wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.