Forgive me for alerting you to this so late but apparently, Dirk Nowitzki is just as good at basketball as we've all previously thought. That is, he's a basketball messiah riding in on a translucent steed of fundamentals and mid-range jumpers...or something.
But I alert you to this article published on Basketball Reference way back in July by Neil Paine. In it, he concludes that Dirk Nowitzki was the second-best offensive player against the top defenses in the NBA. Derrick Rose was ranked just ahead of him, but just barely. Please check the actual for Paine's process of coming to these conclusions, because he has a far superior brain than I. I got into writing so I wouldn't have to do math, so there's that. But for a sneak peak, here's his top five (the stat is bopOSPM -- essentially offensive basketball on-paper plus/minus. Which is explained here):
Rk Player bopOSPM
1 Derrick Rose 6.42
2 Dirk Nowitzki 6.24
3 Deron Williams 5.84
4 LeBron James 5.69
5 Kevin Durant 5.64
The article is worth a look if you haven't already checked it out (I'm sure most of you have). It just reaffirms Dirk's brilliance on more statistical and substantial level. Dirk chokes in big games? Dirk can't hang with athletic defenders? Those paper-thin arguments should all but be crushed under the weight of not only what we watched in the playoffs this summer but in numbers as well.
Either way you cut it, Dirk Nowitzki is an amazing player, one the Mavericks or the NBA will never see again. This article most likely didn't need to convince you of that or sway your opinion, but it's still nice to have factual data to support our rabid love and admiration of the greatest Maverick of all time.
(h/t to Ball Don't Lie)