Shootaround: JJ Barea
Mavs G JJ Barea talks about what Dirk means to this franchise, looks ahead to Sunday's matchup against the Heat and more.
Though he’d be the first player to trade individual success for a win, Dirk Nowitzki put up some pretty awesome numbers during the Mavs’ 2-2 week. Aside from leading the team with 22.5 points per game during the last four games, Nowitzki has re-emerged as an unreal three-point shooter. After a somewhat rocky 2-of-10 start, Dirk shot 13-of-22 from deep in the last four games, including two contests in which he hit at least four.
The Big German’s entire arsenal was on display this week — from knocking down the one-legged fade to catching-and-shooting from deep, he found a rhythm in games that made it look easy. However, Nowitzki shot just 6-of-15 against the Miami Heat last night, an off night by his standards. It was just the third game in 2014-15 season in which he’s shot under 60 percent from the field, a pretty crazy stat when you think about it. In contests following the previous two, Nowitzki has averaged 27 points and 8.5 rebounds on 62.5 percent shooting. We’ll see how he bounces back against the Sacramento Kings, a feisty club who gave Dallas some challenges last season.
|Nowitzki’s Week in Numbers|
|22.0 PPG (led team)||6.5 RPG||50.0 FG%||59.1 3PT%||60.2 eFG%||2.5 AST/TO Ratio||114.8 Off Rtg|
The stat that might stand out most to Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle, though, is 28.7. That’s how many minutes Dirk played per game this week, and he’s at an even lower 28.3 per on the season. Keeping Nowitzki below 30 minutes per game, which I believe is Carlisle’s ultimate goal, will not only help keep him fresh throughout the season, but it will also allow Dirk to go a little harder when he’s on the floor. If he’s not pacing himself to play 33 or 34 minutes per game as he did last season, Nowitzki can run a little quicker, cut a little harder, and take a little more contact on the offensive end without worrying about the negative side effects.
It’s difficult for any player to pace himself for 36 minutes each night in the NBA — don’t let how easy Monta Ellis makes it look fool you — but it’s even more difficult when a 36-year-old tries to do it. Nowitzki has looked spry this season, and the hope is that he can maintain that level of energy throughout the entire 82-game docket and still have an extra gear to reach in the playoffs. His supporting cast will play a huge role in that, as well: Dirk played just 24 minutes in the home opener against Utah because the Mavs reserves were able to extend the lead without him. Dirk’s minutes will be the last of Carlisle’s worries if Dallas can score convincing wins often enough that Nowitzki doesn’t have to play 30 minutes in order for the team to win, but it’s going to be something to keep your eye on during the next few weeks.
STAT OF THE WEEK – 17
Nowitzki needs just 17 points to pass Hakeem Olajuwon for 9th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. By passing The Dream, Dirk would also become the highest-scoring international player in league history. It’s going to be a pretty awesome moment when that happens, and it’s looking very likely that the moment will come tomorrow night against the Kings — Nowitzki hasn’t scored fewer than 17 in a game all season. With each name he passes, the moment becomes that much more significant, and the ensuing ovation becomes that much more boisterous. Dirk is about to be the highest-scoring international player ever in a game long dominated by domestic talent. It’s a moment you’re not going to want to miss.
Olajuwon will be the first player to be passed by Nowitzki on the scoring list this season. The German, presently in 10th place, passed Oscar Robertson toward the very end of 2013-14, the final name on a list of some of the greatest players to ever take the court — he also surged past John Havlicek and Dominique Wilkins, to name just two. He’ll also be the first player Nowitzki has eclipsed on the list at home since the German passed Kevin Garnett for 13th place in November of last season.
Elvin Hayes is the next man up on the list, who currently sits 367 points ahead of The Dream. At Nowitzki’s current pace, he’ll pass Hayes some time before the end of 2014, likely right around Christmas. Before you know it, he’ll be the second-highest-scoring power forward of all-time behind only Karl Malone. It’s been a heck of a ride so far, and we’ve still got a ways to go yet.
|NBA All-Time Points Leaders|
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