After signing a one-year deal with the Dallas Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki broke a previous NBA record he shared with Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant. The 40-year-old center/power forward became the first NBA player to play 21 seasons with the same team. Since being selected the No. 9 overall pick in the 1998 NBA Draft, Nowitzki showed his dedication and loyalty to the Mavericks.
As of now, Dirk Nowitzki is still considered as the face of the Mavericks’ franchise, but he is no longer the player who is expected to lead the team in winning their next NBA championship title. At 40, Nowitzki already showed some signs of slowing down, and in the past two seasons, the veteran center has received less playing time.
Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News recently discussed what is expected of Dirk Nowitzki in his 21st NBA season with the Mavericks. Sefko still expected Nowitzki to be featured in the pick-and-pop and the spot-up shooting roles. However, he doubted if the aging superstar should still be on the Mavericks’ starting lineup next season.
“His 22 to 24 minutes of playing time could come at the start of each half, but that would mean either Wesley Matthews assumes the sixth man role or Luka Doncic isn’t starting. And if Doncic isn’t a starter, something has gone haywire. It might make sense to bring Nowitzki off the bench as the sixth man, pairing him with J.J. Barea and maybe another guard to be named. That grouping has always been very effective. But no matter what, season No. 21 will be a celebration of Nowitzki’s basketball life. It seems likely to be his last. Maybe.”
— Mavs Moneyball (@mavsmoneyball) August 20, 2018
With the arrival of DeAndre Jordan in the recent free agency, it makes a lot of sense for the Mavericks to make Dirk Nowitzki their sixth man next season. Jordan and Nowitzki may offer a different set of skills, but having both big men in the Mavericks’ frontcourt will greatly affect their mobility. Also, as Sefko noted, keeping Nowitzki in the starting lineup means that either Wesley Matthews and Luka Doncic will be needing to come off the bench.
Using the right combination of players will be vital for the Mavericks, especially with their goal to return to the Western Conference Playoffs next season. The competition in the Western Conference just got tougher after LeBron James joined the Los Angeles Lakers. In the ESPN Summer Forecast for the 2018-19 NBA season, the Mavericks are only predicted to finish as the No. 13 seed in the Western Conference with a 33-49 win-loss record.