Dirk Nowitzki is the best international player in the NBA. Don’t ask me. Ask a GM.
That’s exactly what NBA.com did, and more than half the respondents named the Mavericks star No. 1. It’s not exactly a shock; Nowitzki has been named best international player in the NBA every season except for one since 2004. Dirk reclaimed the title from Tony Parker, who was named best born outside the States after an impressive 2013 Finals performance in a loss to the Miami Heat. Nowitzki finished third last season behind Parker and Marc Gasol, as he was coming off a knee injury that cost him a third of the 2012-13 campaign. Parker finished a distant second to Nowitzki this season, with the German capturing 53.6 percent of the votes and the French point guard just 28.6 percent.
Nowitzki’s ascension back atop the list should not surprise. Last season was perhaps his most efficient last season, and it led Grantland’s Kirk Goldsberry to name him the best shooter in the NBA. He scored 21.7 points per game in the 2013-14 season, leading the best offense in the NBA after the All-Star break to 49 wins and a near-upset of Parker’s Spurs in the first round of the playoffs. Nowitzki narrowly missed out on his second 50/40/90 season, coming about as close as one can — he hit 49.7 percent from the field, 39.8 percent from three-point range, and 89.9 percent from the free throw line. Oh, and he was 35 last season.
Parker put up good numbers himself last season, scoring 16.7 points on 49.9 percent shooting and leading the best team in the NBA to a title. Gasol, meanwhile, missed a chunk of the season due to injury and suffered a first-round loss against the Oklahoma City Thunder. In the past, Manu Ginobili and Pau Gasol have also received votes.
But not this year. No, this year the title rightfully has returned back to its longtime owner. Nowitzki has cornered the international market, obliterating both the vote and the rest of the NBA for more than a decade now.
Also on the list: Nowitzki received one vote for “player who forces opposing coaches to make the most adjustments” and “best power forward in the NBA.” Tyson Chandler won the “most underrated player acquisition,” with Jameer Nelson also receiving a vote. The big man also received a vote for “best defensive player in the NBA” and “best interior defender in the NBA.” Chandler Parsons’s signing was named the second most surprising move of the offseason, behind LeBron James returning to Cleveland. The wing also received a vote for “best at moving without the ball.”
Rick Carlisle narrowly missed out on winning “coach who makes the best in-game adjustments,” finishing with 42.9 percent of the vote to Gregg Popovich’s 46.4 percent. That’s a one-vote difference. GMs also believe Carlisle runs the second-best offense in the league behind only Popovich. Jameer Nelson, meanwhile, is one current player GMs believe could make the best head coach someday.
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