The greatness of Dirk Nowitzki and his place in NBA history

This week, Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki passed Moses Malone to become the seventh-leading scorer in NBA history. His rise up the all-time scoring charts is a testament to his incredibly diverse scoring ability and his longevity. Let us pay proper respect to his greatness and consider where he ranks among the all-time best at his position.

Dirk’s offensive abilities are well known to anyone reading this blog.

The best-shooting big man we have ever seen, at seven feet tall he is able to get his shot off over any defender – be it a face-up jumper or his patented fall-away off one leg. He is the only player 6’10” or above to make at least 1,500 threes. He is a master of head-fakes to get his defender off-balance, and he is comfortable taking smaller opponents in the post and finishing with either hand at the rim. He is a great teammate and is excellent at seeing the floor and passing out of the double-team.

He has aged well and he has adjusted seamlessly to shooting a few less shots per game than he used to, something past-their-prime superstars normally struggle with. Remarkably, he is still the cornerstone of a contender today at age 36, powering a Mavs offense which, built on shooting and floor spacing, is truly assembled in his image. Not coincidentally, it is the most efficient in the NBA.

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Takeaways from the first three nights of the NBA season

It’s the opening week of the new NBA season, which means the League Pass fest is in full effect.

Here are my screenshot-backed observations from the first three nights.

This Spurs employee needs a manicure:

Spurs ring

It is not clear who is holding the ring here, but to whoever it is: Come on, dude. You’re on national TV. Don’t look like a tramp.

The Lakers’ season is already over:

Julius Randle

Just when you thought the Lakers could not get any more depressing, Julius Randle breaks his leg. A devastating blow for the lad, and a clear cue for the Lakers to embrace being as bad as possible and maintaining their top-five protected draft pick. With Jeremy Lin running the point like this, it seems inevitable.

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1994 NBA Draft revisited: Kidd, Hill, Big Dog & Co.

The ’93 Draft, which was revisited here last week, was deemed “not great” by esteemed readers of the blog. 1994 was certainly worse, producing no MVPs, just five All-Stars, and a No. 1 pick whose career was underwhelming.

However, it did yield one of the all-time greats at his position (Jason Kidd), one of the original “next Michael Jordan” candidates (Grant Hill), the largest ever rookie contract (Glenn Robinson), and the first ever $100 million player (Juwan Howard).

Here are the top 10 picks, retrospectively re-ordered to reflect each player’s NBA accomplishments:

1) Jason Kidd (picked No. 2 by Dallas)

94draft-1

1,391 games, 36.0 minutes, 12.6 points, 8.7 assists, 6.3 rebounds, 1.9 steals, 40.0% FGs, 17.9 PER.

Best season: 2002/03 – 80 games, 18.7 points, 8.9 assists, 6.3 rebounds, 2.2 steals, 41.4% FGs, 22.2 PER, 49-33 record, All-NBA 2nd team.

Most memorable moment: 30-point, 10-assist performance in Game 3 of the ’02 Finals.

Kidd was the best point guard of his generation and is an easy choice for No. 1 here, even if he did inexplicably die his hair blonde, assault his ex-wife, and get traded twice during his prime.

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Selecting the correct Western Conference All-Star reserves

The starters for the 2014 NBA All-Star Game were announced last week. As usual, the fans got it wrong: Kobe Bryant (6 games, 13.8 PPG) and Kyrie Irving (42.8% shooting, 16-29 record in the putrid Eastern Conference) have no business being in the starting lineups.

Tonight, the reserves will be announced. Who should be selected?

Let us ignore the East – with all due respect to the likes of Paul Millsap, Arron Afflalo and Kyle Lowry – and skip straight to the ultra-loaded and more meaningful West, where there are far more deserving candidates than there are available All-Star roster spots.

After much deliberation, here are the seven players – three frontcourt, two backcourt and two wild cards – who should join Kobe, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love and Blake Griffin on the squad:

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