After missing the first 27 games of 2012 and 29 overall, it took some time for future hall of famer Dirk Nowitzki to get back into a basketball groove. In his first 10 games back, Nowitzki scored only 13.2 points per game (ppg) while shooting 40.8 percent from the field.
As soon as March hit the calendar, vintage Dirk was starting to show up again. In the final 25 games, Nowitzki scored 18.8 ppg and scored 20+ 12 times. The Mavs would go 16-9 in that span and end the season at 41-41.
Nowitzki would go on to score 17.3 ppg, second lowest of his career. His 53 games and 31 minutes per game were also his lowest since his rookie campaign. Needless to say, his 11-year All-Star streak was snapped.
Nowitzki, a career 22.6-point scorer, is set to hit some key milestones during the 2013-14 season. After becoming the 17th member of the 25,000-point club last season, the big German is ready to pass some significant company this year. In his first 15 years, Dirk averaged 1,670 points per season, with a career-high 2,094 in 2008-09. If he even hits the 1,500 mark, Dirk will move from 17th to 13th (assuming Kevin Garnett remains in front) and passing hall of famers Jerry West, Reggie Miller, Alex English and John Havlicek.
If Dirk of old comes back, a realistic shot is ninth. Currently, Dominique Wilkins sits at 26,668; Oscar Robertson at 26,710; and Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon is ninth at 26,946, just under 1,900 points ahead of Nowitzki.
Other big milestones Dirk can reach during the season and a projection of when he’ll reach them: 40,000 minutes (first game), 9,500 rebounds (February), 3,000 assists (late-January), and 1,000 steals (March).
Dirk will roughly play 75 games this year, which will put him at 1,182 career games, moving him from 52nd to around 38th, passing Hal Greer and Scottie Pippen (hall of fame).
Nowitzki will also pass Bailey Howell, Artis Gilmore and Dave DeBusschere for at least 38th in career rebounding. He’ll also move to 23rd with at least 1,400 3-pointers, passing “Thunder” Dan Majerle, former teammate Antoine Walker and Brent Barry. Finally, Dirk is projected to hit the 6,500 free-throw mark, moving him to 11th passing hall of famers Miller, Bob Petit, Charles Barkley, and future hall of famer Allen Iverson.
At age 35, vintage Dirk could be in the discussion for MVP, if he wins, it will be his second of his career (2007). Although, individual numbers won’t matter for Nowitzki, as he’s only concentrating on one thing, and that’s wins and getting the Mavs back into the playoffs and possibly another championship.