As we briefly noted in the previous post, one of the important but lesser publicized aspects of the Jason Kidd trade has been how it has re-energized Dirk Nowitzki. This is a stark contrast to last year. In fact, one of the real danger signs heading into the playoffs last year was the decline in Dirk's game.
Here is a graph of Dirk's month-by-month stats from last season. If you account for his low minute count in April due to him being rested, you still see a pretty compelling and frightening picture--after the all-star break, Dirk's performance went down hill. Practically every major offensive category saw decline: FG%, 3FG%, rebounds per game, assists per game, and points per game.
Here are Dirk's stats for this season. The first thing you notice is that it's an almost mirror image of last season. Of course the April stats are skewed by Dirk's injury and lower minute count, but even some of those numbers are remarkable. Specifically, Dirk's shooting percentage and points per game--even with the lower minute count and his injury--are some of his best numbers this season.
The second thing you notice is that Dirk's game started to improve in January, right before the Kidd trade. I can't explain this other than to speculate that Dirk was informed Kidd was coming well before everyone else. Either way, you can't deny that the two graphs represent an amazing contrast.
If the end of last season was a disturbing preview of what would happen with Dirk in the playoffs, Dirk's performance heading out of the new year this season is a disturbing preview in the opposite sense--for the Mav's first round opponent.
[editor's note, by Jake] Not sure what happened with the scale numbers on the second graph, but the graph is correct. The numbers on the left are simply wrong, but the overall trends are accurate.