Based solely on his performance so far this season, Dirk Nowitzki admittedly doesn’t deserve to be an All-Star.
There is no doubt, however, that he’s one of the West’s best dozen players.
The conference’s coaches gave Nowitzki what could be considered a one-time, benefit-of-the-doubt pass to extend his streak of All-Star appearances to 11. The coaches gave Tim Duncan the same courtesy last season, then left him out this season to snap his streak of 13 consecutive All-Star appearances.
With Duncan and Kevin Garnett not making the cut, only Kobe Bryant has a longer active All-Star streak than Nowitzki, whose 11 appearances are tied for 21st most in NBA history.
Considering the unique circumstances – Dirk’s dominance during the Mavs’ fresh title run, the shortened season that results in a much smaller than usual sample size for this year’s stats – such a pass is certainly justified for the big German. (Even if he would have preferred to have the long weekend off.)
History, however, is unlikely to remember this All-Star nod as a lifetime achievement honor for Dirk.
That’s because it’s a solid bet that he’s going to have All-Star-caliber production for a playoff team when this season is over. His scoring average for this season has jumped from 16.2 to 17.6 points just over the last few games, when he busted out of his worst slump since his rookie season by dropping 30, 24 and 25. You can bank on it being back to the Nowitzki norm – low-to-mid 20s – after another 40 games.
It’s also a pretty safe prediction to place Nowitzki in Houston for next year’s All-Star weekend. He’s not going to come to training camp out of shape again, and as we’ve seen over the last week, Dirk’s prime isn’t over by any stretch of the imagination.
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