That's Dirk With a D
Yes, there really is a D in Dirk. In the past, Dirk Nowitzki had the nickname of Irk, because he had no D. That reputation was do to his first two seasons in the NBA when he was a 20 year old Euro puppy. However, Dirk Nowitzki is no longer a horrible defender. Not an awful defender either. Not bad. Not poor. Not even average. Dirk Nowitzki is a good defender and has been for the past 3 seasons. He should be called a good defender. If not, then use the term VERY GOOD DEFENDER. The negative comments about his defense should stop.
Why? Lets begin with a defensive rating system called the Tendex defensive rating system http://www.dougstats.com/04-05DefensiveTendex.html Dirk Nowitzki ranks 4th in the ENTIRE NBA in this statistical defensive rating system. This is the top 6 as of Janurary 2nd 2005.....
1) duncan,tim San 15.37
2) wallace,ben Det 12.70
3) mourning,alonzo Tor 11.29
4) nowitzki,dirk Dal 10.86
5) garnett,kevin Min 10.82
6) bryant,kobe LAL 10.76
That is one beautiful Dirk sandwich. Dirk is trailing 2 former two time defensive players of the year[Mourning and Wallace] and consistent first team All NBA defender Tim Duncan and is just ahead of two consistent first team ALL NBA defenders[Garnett and Kobe]. Nice company.
Not sold? How bout that he finished 9th for the entire 2002-2003 season in defensive Tendex rating. Here is the top 17 that year. See any defensive dogs here?
1) wallace,ben Det 14.48
2) duncan,tim San 11.32
3) garnett,kevin Min 10.34
4) o'neal,jermaine Ind 9.62
5) brand,elton LAC 9.53
6) marion,shawn Pho 9.37
7) magloire,jamaal NOr 9.35
8) robinson,david San 9.33
9) nowitzki,dirk Dal 9.21
10) martin,kenyon NJN 9.15
11) artest,ron Ind 9.12
12) iverson,allen Phi 8.84
13) malone,karl Uta 8.78
14) ming,yao Hou 8.38
15) o'neal,shaquille LAL 8.18
16) kirilenko,andrei Uta 8.10
17) ratliff,theo Atl 8.08
Are there any players on these lists that people feel the need to make fun of on defense? In the last 3 seasons including this season, only 5 players have been in the top 10 more then once in these defensive rankings.....
Unsure about the accuracy of the Tendex defensive ratings? OK, lets talk about on court---off court defensive stats from the 82games site http://82games.com/04DAL10D.HTM These are fairly straight forward stats. When a player is on the court, how many points does the other team score and how many do they score when he is off the court sitting on the bench. A dead even number for both stats would indicate an average defender. So how has Dirk done in this stat?
2002-2003 on court----94.3 off court----100.1 -5.8
2003-2004 on court----108.6 off court----110.0 -1.4
2004-2005 on court----101.3 off court----104.8 -3.5
Minus is good. In other words, the Mavs play clearly better on defense when Dirk Nowitzki plays. Here are a few other players over the last few seasons and their on court off court defensive stats........
Four guys I thought might have good defensive on court-off court numbers at the forward position starting in 2002-2003.
Clearly minus is good. Now 4 guys I thought might have bad numbers on defense....
Looks like my guesses as to who stunk on defense was pretty good. Now which group do these numbers by Dirk Nowitzki belong to, the first group or the second group???
Still not impressed? How bout some observational common sense. Dirk Nowitzki is athletic. He has excellent feet. He is tall, fairly long, and solidly built with broad shoulders. He is also a smart player. The tools are there for defense. And there is no doubt he knows how to turn up his game when he needs to. Just check out his career stats in the playoffs vs. regular season if you don't believe me. He is one of the few players that plays much better in the playoffs then the regular season.
Need more proof statistically? How bout this. In the plus minus overall scoring stats that show how teams do when a player is on the court vs. off in overall scoring differential, Dirk Nowitzki is number 2 in the entire NBA this season. Numero dos http://82games.com/rolandratings0405.htm I believe these are his rankings the last 3 seasons....
Many people believe that plus minus stats can be very misleading. And there are often aberrations that can make this stat look bad. However, Duncan and Garnett have been in the top 20 the last 3 seasons along with Dirk. Nobody else has made it all 3 years. Dirk sure seems to keep good defensive company for being such a bad defender. Now ask yourself, if Dirk is so consistently fantastic in a stat such as this, is he doing it while playing horrible defense? Three straight years? BTW, I think Dirk ranked 2nd in 2000-2001 in this stat. It would be pretty amazing if he ranked in the top 2 in 4 of the last 5 seasons. Need to get my hands on the 2001-2002 plus minus stats.
Still not convinced? How bout some meat and potato defensive stats for the simple minded. They would of course be blocks and steals. From 2001-2004, only 4 players in the NBA had 75+ blocks and 75+ steals in all four of those seasons. They were Ben Wallace, Shawn Marion, Kevin Garnett, and...... Dirk Nowitzki. Only 6 other players even did it 3 of the 4 seasons. Dirk did it all 4 years and will make it 5 straight years around game 60 this year. Five straight years of 75+ steals and blocks. Still think he is a joke on defense?
First impressions are hard to break and reputations can last a lifetime. However, isn't it time to open your mind to atleast the possibility that Dirk Nowitzki is a good defender? That he is no longer a 20 year old softie Euro shooter, but a 26 year old athletic, ruggedly built strapper that knows what he is doing on the defensive side of the ball?
The next time you hear an announcer say that Dirk is a bad defender, remember what you read here.