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The Mavericks still have Dirk Nowitzki. It’s the backup power forwards who need to help.

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How many wins will the power forward position earn the Mavericks?

Dallas Mavericks Media Day Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Welcome to part four of five as we rank the Mavericks by position against the rest of the league. Today, we will go over power forward.

Click here for the intro for our positional rankings along with PG rankings.

Click here for our shooting guard rankings.

Click here for our small forward rankings.

At power forward, Dallas is ranked No. 18 with 9 wins, as calculated by win shares. If you aren’t sure exactly what that means, read our introductory piece here.

Stop that. Hey! I said stop that.

So there’s a few beefs. Let’s take this apart. First, let’s look at Dirk’s basketball reference page here and then resume this. Yes, go. Click here and scroll down to advanced. You’ll see 6.8 for last year. Now nine doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Still, let’s go a little deeper given this rank (slightly below average).

  1. I believe win shares and other individual statistics may under-capture Dirk’s impact at this stage of his career (he is #7 all-time) due to his ability to suck in defenses and create space for others, which will may neuter his WAR-type stats, but not his +/- metrics and overall ability to win. So, Dirk will still be effective but his effectiveness may be better highlighted in team stats like lineup stats as opposed to an individual-oriented stat like Win Shares, even when grouped by position as I’m doing.
  2. After posting a 6.8 win shares, Dirk decided to go turn 38 this June. In all likelihood, due to maintenance and age, he will play his lowest games and minutes per game this year outside an injury-ridden 2012-2013. This will erode his Win Shares contribution.
  3. That said, I’m still projecting Dirk for over five wins this year. This might actually be optimistic. For example, fivethirtyeight.com’s CARMELO forecast (which measures wins differently than Win Shares so the absolute number is lower for Dirk anyways) is still docking Dirk of half of his wins from last year. I can’t say that’s wrong as we are in rarely charted territory with Dirk but you know what, that is morally wrong, dammit.
  4. There is some positional weirdness around ESPN’s position attributions which affected the Mavericks’ PF-C. For example, Quincy Acy’s 2+ wins were lumped into SF so there may be more PF upside if Acy plays more power forward (which he mostly did last year with the Kings) although that would likely deduct from either Dirk’s or Powell’s win counts if Acy does so the total wins may not go up. Likewise, Powell’s 3+ wins are being counted at PF so maybe one win is being docked from center.
  5. Another example of this positional skew is that Portland is ranked #1 here. Well, Portland’s projected front line didn’t even feature a center, hence the goosed PF ranking for Portland (you’ll see them in the gutter for tomorrow’s center rankings). I noticed this with a couple other clubs so Dallas probably moves up a notches ranking-wise in PF. As noted in the PG intro, given we’re focusing on Dallas and I’ve combed the positions for Dallas, Dallas’ ranking may move up or down a couple notches, but it’s not leapfrogging a dozen teams.

PREDICTABILITY (1 Dirk- not reliable, 3- somewhat reliable, 5- reliable)

Dirk’s as durable as they come but it’s now virtually impossible to talk about Dirk without talking about his birthdate or odometer. As noted, Dirk’s schedule and maintenance are likely going to be more old player friendly but we don’t know by how much. Depending on Dallas’ standings in the spring, it could be a lot. Powell is projected to improve a little but likely will need to increase his per-minute production as his PF minutes will still be capped by some Hall of Famer.

UPSIDE POTENTIAL (1 Dirk- low ceiling, 3- average ceiling, 5 high ceiling)

Dirk could turn back the clock a few years or find a higher level of efficiency but no one is betting on it. The real opportunities for upside are Powell making good on his new contract in a way that forces Dallas to find minutes for him or alternatively, shuffling their minutes and positions around by playing Harrison Barnes a lot in an athletic stretch four role in some sneaky effective small ball lineup (I’m personally curious about a PG-Matthews-Anderson-Barnes-C combination).

DOWNSIDE RISK (1 Dirk- low floor, 3 average floor, 5 high floor)

Dirk’s ankles (and the rest of his health) is the main risk. His age is also a risk but he’s seemingly defeating both with his diligence, height and rainbow jumper. knockonwood. Overall, not too risky. KNOCKONWOOD. Powell could still fade and disappear for stretches but the opportunity is there for him to shine and expectations seem reasonable. Acy has a solid floor with his rebounding and defense.

OVERALL RATING (1 Dirk- weakness, 3 average, 5 strength)

Understanding the weakness of Win Shares, I think you have to give this a solid, not great. At this point, Dirk’s game is strictly offense, and mostly efficiency at that. Even the volume is not what it once was. His defense is a weakness and his rebounds are probably average at best but his once-in-a-generation efficiency makes up for all that. His availability will also be a little dampened. Powell and Barnes playing well and playing significant minutes are probably the true opportunities for upside.

(Note: Outside of Win Shares, I think Dirk will still be the most effective Maverick next year and that will be reflected in the usual +/- on/off stats).

Come back tomorrow to see the last of this series as we compare the Mavericks’ centers to the rest of the league!