Dirk Nowitzki has one of the best resumes in the entire NBA. He has led the Dallas Mavericks to ten consecutive NBA Playoffs, including a Conference Finals appearance in 2003 and an NBA Finals appearance in 2006. He is also a ten-time NBA All-Star and ten-time member of the All-NBA teams and is the first European-born player in NBA history to receive the NBA Most Valuable Player award.
While known as a perimeter scorer for most of his career, this season Nowitzki has started to expand his game and a large portion of his touches on offense (27%) came come out of the low post.
“I think that is part of what every player strives to do is get better at one of the things they haven’t done in the past,” Jay Triano told HOOPSADDICT.com. “He’s got a big body and he’s got a high release so if he can get the ball down close to the basket against smaller players it’s a great mismatch. I think that teams have tried to do is try to put smaller players on him when he’s on the perimeter and he’s found a way to exploit it when teams go smaller against him.”
Or, as his head coach Rich Carlisle pointed out, sometimes we just pigeonhole players and don’t realize the ways they have grown or evolved as players.
“Guys that are great shooters tend to get tagged as just shooters,” Carlistle explained to HOOPSADDICT.com. “Tim Duncan is a great post player but he’s also a terrific shooter but since he was such dominant post player for many years everybody refers to him as a post player but his outside shooting is one of the things that has really expanded his game.
“We look to get Dirk different places in the post, on the perimeter moving around doing some things or putting the ball on the floor and making some plays. Because of how defenses play him – they try to get physical, they try to get him out of rhythm – we’ve got to keep moving him around and keep changing the looks.”
When asked about getting more touches in the post Nowitzki told me it due to taking advantages of mismatches when smaller players are trying to guard him. In essence, he shrugged off my question and wouldn’t give me any insight.
Jason Kidd, however, couldn’t refrain from cracking a joke about the idea of a seven-footer finally working out of the post.
“I think we have to remind ourselves and him that he’s seven-feet,” Kidd told HOOPSADDICT.com while smirking. “Everybody talks about how well he shoots the ball but he’s seven-feet and the closer he is to the basket the easier it is for him.”
Nowitzki working out of the low post could be a combination of his growth as a player or maybe we’re just taking notice of an added dimension of his game.
Or, as Kidd simply put, maybe the big guy is finally starting to use mismatches against smaller players to his advantage.