NBA rumors have been swirling around Dirk Nowitzki this past week. First, the Dallas Mavericks move him from power forward to center. Things worked out for a brief moment before Rick Carlisle decided that the Mavericks were not getting the results they had hoped for.
Adapting is how you succeed in the National Basketball Association. According to ESPN, Carlisle has moved Nowitzki back to forward. It looks like the experiment might be over for now.
Rick Carlisle has long been known as one of the brightest offensive minds in the NBA. He understands spacing as well as anyone else in basketball. One of the best ways to get spacing in the National Basketball Association is to shoot well. Carlisle modified the Dallas Mavericks starting lineup to include more quickness and shooting. He did that by replacing center Zaza Pachulia with point guard Raymond Felton, which moved Chandler Parsons and Dirk Nowitzki up a position.
Chandler Parsons is 6’10”, 230 pounds. Dirk Nowitzki is 7’0″, 240 pounds. Their measurements lead you to believe that the former is a natural power forward and the latter is a natural center. That’s not the case. They’re two of the better perimeter players in the NBA. Rick Carlisle was hoping that he could exploit mismatches by surrounding those two guys with three outside shooters. Spread the floor and let your two best offensive players do their damage.
While Chandler Parsons and Dirk Nowitzki did manage to do some damage, there were issues with rebounding and defending the basket. Nowitzki has never been a particularly strong defender, while Parsons can be out muscled by power forwards like Paul Millsap and Zach Randolph in the low post. The experiment wasn’t a complete failure, but it was not one that Rick Carlisle was comfortable with continuing. A new lineup would be needed.
During the game against the Portland Trailblazers on Sunday, Rick Carlisle did indeed throw out a new starting lineup. He returned to Zaza Pachulia playing center and Dirk Nowitzki moved back to power forward. Chandler Parsons sat out the game due to a hamstring injury. Carlisle kept Raymond Felton in the Dallas Mavericks starting lineup, playing next to Deron Williams and Wesley Matthews on the perimeter. Parsons will more than likely replace Felton some time this week.
Zaza Pachulia might have been the starting center for the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, but it was only a short term thing. The former Milwaukee Bucks center was only given five minutes of playing time. Pachulia failed to score any points because he missed both of the shots that he took. To his credit, though, he did pull down a two rebounds. The feeling is that Pachulia might not be the long term answer at center.
While one good game is much too soon to make a proper assessment, the Dallas Mavericks might have a long term center in Salah Mejri. The seldom used backup was given 33 minutes against the Portland Trailblazers, and he responded with 13 points and 14 rebounds. Mejri also showed an ability to get to the free throw line. David Lee received 16 minutes off the bench, which meant that Dirk Nowitzki was not required to spend any time at the center position.
While frequently changing lineups might concern Dallas Mavericks fans, it’s actually a good thing for Rick Carlisle to do this now. He needs to find a lineup that can mesh together and do everything that he needs them to do. They’re going to need some time to develop chemistry with the NBA Playoffs just around the corner. The Mavericks are currently clinging on to the eight spot in the Western Conference.
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