Dirk Nowitzki has re-upped for a 21st season with your Dallas Mavericks, but will he start or come off the bench?
Dirk is DFW treasure. He is entering uncharted territory by heading back to the same team for a 21st season. He is the only NBA player in the history of the league to do that. We clearly do not deserve Dirk. For more on our appreciation of the one true GOAT, click here. He remains the least selfish superstar in a myriad of ways. Not only is he the 6th leading scorer in the NBA, but he’s also the 6th highest paid player on the Mavs. Let that sink in real fast, 5 guys ON THIS TEAM make more money than a guy with 31,187 points in his career. He could demand more money, more fanfare, more touches and more playing time. But that’s not Dirk. Dirk will basically do anything for this franchise, but will he be willing to come off the bench for a team with, essentially, 6 starters?
Who could start?
Let’s look at who is a lock to start for this team first. No question that DeAndre Jordan starts. Harrison Barnes definitely starting on opening day, too. Dennis Smith is your opening day point guard and Luka Doncic is a lock as well. That leaves the variables of Dirk and Wes Matthews. The only reason Wes is a question mark is really by process of elimination. The other 4 are FOR SURE starting. Dirk and Wes are just less sure.
Pros and Cons of Dirk Starting:
Pros – The face of your franchise gets to be introduced before every game to the thunderous applause he deserves and slot into his natural position of Power Forward giving Barnes his natural spot at the 3. You come out guns a blazing with all of your best offense right out of the gate, for at least a few minutes anyway. Last year, Dirk played the opening tip and few minutes to stay loose and spent the majority of his time with the second unit. I would expect nothing less if he were to start this year. He can keep his routine that he’s had for 20 years and not have to readjust to coming off the bench 10 min into the first quarter and HOPE he hasn’t gotten too stiff. The worst thing ever would be Dirk to go out with a bad statistical season because he got stiff on the bench.
Cons – Defense. Pure and simple defense. Dirk has been posted at the 5 for the past few years to require the least amount of defense from a man who fully embraces his new nickname of ‘The Big Mummy’. Dirk is not quick or physical enough on the floor to go with most bigs, and would leave the Mavs to cover for his deficiencies. DeAndre can do some of that, but it’s still a loss. Additionally, losing Matthews as a perimeter defender is a major loss as he has remained our best lock down defender in his time as Maverick. That’s two losses on defense for a team that will run and gun and need good defense everywhere in this loaded western conference. That’s tough call to make.
Would Wes be willing to swallow his pride, which he is known to have a great deal of, and let Dirk start in his place for what looks more and more like his final year in the league? Matthews is a team player, but he still wants the respect of starting. He also wants to win, and if he feels that he gives the Mavs a better chance, he’s going to fight tooth and nail to be in that lineup.
I think Dirk will start. I think towards the back half of last year, Wes realized his role on this team had changed and he needed to be a different kind of leader. I think the Mavs are going to give Dirk the fanfare he doesn’t want and didn’t ask for in ways that are subtle and that he would agree to in his last year or so. I think his starting role will be largely ceremonial and it will basically mimic his role last year. He deserves the honor. He deserves the respect. Wes, more than being a team player, respects the game of basketball for all it’s done for him and will step down to let one of its legends have one last season to cement his legacy. Not to mention that this question has been asked for years and the head coach had a response before last season I really vibe with on whether Dirk will start this year, “I just don’t think that Dirk’s a guy that’s going to come off the bench as long as I’m here.”
It may not be all year, but he will start. Especially opening day.
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