In light of Dirk Nowitzki’s jersey retirement set for Wednesday night, the Dallas Mavericks special advisor offered some perspective on the current day team and where it is going.
On Tuesday afternoon, when meeting with local media, Nowitzki expressed excitement for the future of Dallas being in the hands of Luka Doncic. However, he also explained that fans have yet to see the best version of the Mavericks due to ill-timed injuries and a host of health and safety protocol absences.
“it’s been a tough season, with lots of injuries and health and safety protocols. I don’t think we’ve seen how good this team can really be,” Nowitzki said. “If you look at how many games Luka and KP have played together healthy, it is not a lot. You can probably count it on one hand. It has been a little frustrating… You just got to fight through it and play your best basketball going towards the end of the season.”
Injuries and health and safety
Nowitzki is right. Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis are yet to string together lengthy games together. It’s as though once one player gets healthy, the other goes out. The latest blow was losing Porzingis to health and safety protocols on Monday, right before tip-off against the Denver Nuggets.
And currently, the Mavs have used countless variations of lineups and roster combinations just to stay afloat. In the process, Dallas found out how to win by playing a different style of basketball. Still, there are frustrations because things could be better.
And as a special advisor to the Mavericks, Nowitzki admits that it has limited the organization’s assessment of the on-court roster. Yet, that hasn’t stopped him from letting Mark Cuban know what he sees and what can help the team move forward.
“I’ve been around the game so long,” Nowitzki said. “I’m more than happy to bring in what I see or text Mark [Cuban] whenever I see something in games.”
The praise of Doncic
Part of what Nowitzki has seen is the growth of Doncic as a leader. He marveled at his basketball acumen and the savviness Doncic uses to out-wit opponents.
“I love Luka, and everybody knows that,” Nowitzki said. “He’s been basically the number one guy since he’s got here. There is a lot of pressure that comes with that. He’s a really sweet guy with a huge heart. And on the court, he looks so mature in the way he plays and how he reads the game. It’s fantastic and amazing what he is doing.”
It’s fitting that in a moment to celebrate Nowitzki’s greatness, he uses the platform to speak life to the next generation. It’s typical for trailblazers, and Nowitzki certainly was one.
Being the Mavericks’ special advisor, Nowitzki is the bridge between management and the players in the locker room. It wasn’t too long ago that he was in their shoes. And from his vantage point, he believes in Luka and the team. In his eyes, it appears the best is yet to come.
The team is on a three-game winning streak. In the last 12 games, everyone on the floor is defending at a higher level. Doncic is back and looking leaner, meaner and more mobile. All signs are pointing up.
So, when Nowitzki says the best version of the Mavericks is yet to come, why not believe him?
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Feature image via Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports.