As the games without Dirk Nowitzki go by for the Dallas Mavericks, the local and national attention needs to begin to recognize that Nowitzki is the leading MVP candidate for the league this season. Nowitzki has posted MVP-like numbers for this season and the team has shown that they desperately need him when he's on the floor. "We’re talking about a guy that to me is easily the MVP right now," Carlisle said with high praise for his superstar prior to the game against the San Antonio Spurs.
"I can’t really express in words how great he is and how much he means to this team as a basketball team," the coach added. "We all know how important he is to the franchise and to the city. But when he’s not on the floor the game changes significantly, even if he’s not shooting the ball or not posting up. His mere presence is a game-changer."
Nowitzki's value has been known as an elite scorer but this recent stretch of games for the Mavericks without their star has shown his value as that game-changer. Nowitzki makes the game easier for everyone around him simply by drawing so much attention. The superstar has seen his fair share of double teams, they nearly happen all the time. With all of that coverage heading Nowitzki's way, that allow the supporting cast to have easier scoring opportunities. With Nowitzki's absence over the past two games, those players are having their issues on the offensive side of the court and further cements the fact that Nowitzki needs to be right in the mix in the MVP race, if not the leader in the clubhouse.
Another example to show that Nowitzki is a prime candidate for the MVP award is the fact that he's carrying the load for his team more than anyone else in the league. A golden statistical nugget was discovered by Mavs television associate producer Dave Keeney prior to the game against the San Antonio Spurs. Statically, the Mavericks had the league’s biggest disparity between their top two scorers.
The five largest disparities in the league:
Dallas: 8.3 (Dirk Nowitzki 24.1, Jason Terry 15.8)
Toronto: 8.2 (Andrea Bargnani 21.2, DeMar DeRozan 13.0)
New York: 8.1 (Amare Stoudemire 26.3, Raymond Felton 18.2)
Indiana: 7.6 (Danny Granger 21.1, Roy Hibbert 13.5)
Denver: 7.4 (Carmelo Anthony 24.0, Chauncey Billups 16.6)
When you compare the disparity within the Mavericks over the past three-plus seasons, the disparity is a troubling trend:
2006-2007 (MVP Season): 5.72007-2008: 3.72008-2009: 6.32009-2010: 8.4
This just establishes the fact we have known for years, Nowitzki is carrying the Mavericks without a consistent secondary support system and he can, to an extent, help maximize the production of the players around him.
"We're trying to do something that's way bigger than an MVP award, we're really trying to contend (for a championship.)," said Rick Carlisle. They may be working on getting the championship, but they work might already be done when it comes down to determining who the league MVP is.