More Dirk is always good. That’s the golden rule about watching the Mavericks — until Dirk says he’s done, we cherish and enjoy every minute we get from him. Whether that’s on a rebuilding team or not.
So it was pretty nice to hear Dirk Nowitzki say this to Eddie Sefko from The Dallas Morning News on Thursday before the Mavs lost to the Warriors:
“I’m not going to say 100 percent I’ll be back -- but it’s looking like it,” Nowitzki said after the Mavericks had a morning walk-through at the Olympic Club in downtown San Francisco. “I feel fine so far. I’ve played every game. I’d love to play all 82. That would be amazing at [age] 39. We’ll see how the body feels. But so far, it’s been fine.”
Dirk has been extremely cagey about his retirement date in the past, so this is about as clear as he’s going to get mid-season. Listening to Dirk after losses in the locker room I honestly wondered if he had the stomach to go through another 30-win season — he really takes these losses to heart.
I suppose he’s still having fun thanks to his health, like Dirk said. At this point last season, Dirk was in the middle of a two-month exile due to a sore achilles. This season, he’s played in every game and he’s been more productive in some ways, shooting over 40 percent from deep. He’s at 41.6 percent before he went 2-for-2 against the Warriors, and the last time he finished a season above that mark was back in 2010. 2010! That’s basically 30 years ago in 2017 time.
Not only is Dirk shooting well, he’s once again the reason the Mavs don’t look like garbage when he’s on the floor. After a rough start, Dirk’s net-rating is at 10.5 over the last 10 games and 5.8 over the last 15 according to NBA.com’s stats page, which are far and away the best on/off numbers from any of the starters (only Dwight Powell and Devin Harris have better numbers than Dirk but in less minutes).
So Dirk is healthy, he’s shooting well and the team plays well when he’s on the floor, despite the bottom-of-the-barrel win rate. He’s a great pick and roll partner for Dennis Smith Jr. to learn from and he makes just about everyone better just by standing on the court. Dirk can play till he’s 45 if he really wants to, tanking be damned. Let’s just sit back and enjoy that Dirk has potentially graced us with another full season of Dirk-ness.