NBA rumors have been suggesting that more and more teams are going to be switching to small ball by the time the playoffs begin so that they can counter what Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors are doing. Based on their game against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday, it appears that the Dallas Mavericks are going to be following suit. According to ESPN, Dirk Nowitzki spent a good amount of time at the center position.
When Dirk Nowitzki came into the NBA, he was considered a small forward who would eventually move to power forward once he added some weight to his slender physique. Power forward was the position that Nowitzki spent much of his career playing, and it is the position that he will be inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame as someday. Times have changed in the NBA, so Dirk and the Dallas Mavericks must adapt.
For years, Dirk Nowitzki has never liked the idea of playing center. That was back when there were dominating centers like Shaquille O’Neal roaming around the NBA. Nowadays, you really only have a handful of guys, and they’re not always going to dominate you physically. Andre Drummond is the best low post center in the National Basketball Association, but the Dallas Mavericks don’t have to play against him on a weekly basis, so they can get away with playing Nowitzki in the pivot.
The main reason why small ball lineups are so effective in the NBA is because it clears the lane. There’s a lot of athletic players that can brisk through the lane and score an easy basket in the paint. However, the best way to do that is to ensure that there are as few people as possible in the way. That’s one of the biggest reasons why “3 and D” players and “stretch forwards” are starting to become extremely well paid in the National Basketball Association.
One of the most effective lineups for the Dallas Mavericks has Chandler Parsons playing power forward and Dirk Nowitzki playing center. Both are tremendous shooters, so that clears the lanes for Deron Williams, JJ Barea, Wesley Matthews, Devin Harris and Raymond Felton. By instinct, opposing big men in the NBA are going to want to sag down into the paint to protect the basket, but if they do that, then Parsons and Nowitzki can simply punish them with a barrage of outside shots.
Chandler Parsons is 6’10”, 230 pounds. However, he handles the ball and sets up teammates for shots as well as most guards in the NBA. Interior players hate guarding him, so if he’s at the power forward position, that creates favorable mismatches for the Dallas Mavericks. Opposing coaches will usually be forced to make a substitution so that they can get a perimeter oriented defender to match up against Parsons.
JJ Barea [Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images]
While they haven’t done it all that often, the Dallas Mavericks could have a virtually unstoppable offensive play. Doing a pick and roll between Chandler Parsons and Dirk Nowitzki could yield some tremendous results for the Mavericks. With both guys being able to shoot from the outside, defenders cannot cheat on the pick and roll. Plus, Parsons and Nowitzki both know their way around the paint, so that looming threat has to be accounted for.
Playing center might be the preferred choice of Dirk Nowitzki. However, if he wishes to win another NBA Championship before retiring, then it might be something that he should really learn to embrace. Knowing how competitive Nowitzki is, he’ll more than likely continue to be a team player and play whatever position Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle asks him to.
[Featured Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images]