Monday, May 09, 2011

Where Does Dirk Nowitzki Rank On the All-Time List???

If you judge true greatness by the combination of performance, winning and longevity, you would assume that the category "Career Win Shares" would give us a list of the greatest NBA players of all-time. Here is what basketball-reference.com tells us (stars represent Hall of Famers):

1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar* 273.41
2. Wilt Chamberlain* 247.26
3. Karl Malone* 234.62
4. Michael Jordan* 214.02
5. John Stockton* 207.70
6. Oscar Robertson* 189.21
7. Shaquille O'Neal 181.71
8. David Robinson* 178.67
9. Charles Barkley* 177.21
10. Kevin Garnett 174.68
11. Reggie Miller 174.40
12. Tim Duncan 170.00
13. Moses Malone* 167.07
14. Bill Russell* 163.51
15. Hakeem Olajuwon* 162.77
16. Jerry West* 162.58
17. Dirk Nowitzki 161.30
18. Kobe Bryant 156.27
19. Magic Johnson* 155.79
20. Robert Parish* 147.00
21. Larry Bird* 145.83
22. Gary Payton 145.53

So, yeah, Dirk is currently ahead of Kobe, and he is currently outplaying Kobe in annual Win Shares (11 to 10 this year), so he could end up ahead of Kobe. Assume Dirk plays 4 more years and gets 40 more win shares. He could end up 6th all-time in Win Shares! Behind the 2 greatest players of all-time (Jordan and Wilt) and three guys who played into their 40s.

That said, is Dirk more of a Rafael Palmeiro or Eddie Murray type who really wasn't that super awesome, but who was productive over a long, long period of time? Well, he has been 1st team all-NBA 4 times, second team 4 times, 3rd team once, and he has one coming this year (either first or second team).

One way of judging the dominance and long-term greatness of a player is to judge their MVP voting performance. So, here goes:

1. Michael Jordan* 8.138
2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar* 6.203
3. Larry Bird* 5.693
4. Magic Johnson* 5.129
5. Bill Russell* 4.827
6. Shaquille O'Neal 4.380
7. Karl Malone* 4.296
8. Wilt Chamberlain* 4.269
9. Tim Duncan 4.205
10. Kobe Bryant 3.763
11. LeBron James 3.502
12. David Robinson* 3.123
13. Moses Malone* 2.873
14. Kevin Garnett 2.752
15. Bob Pettit* 2.628
16. Hakeem Olajuwon* 2.611
17. Oscar Robertson* 2.479
18. Charles Barkley* 2.438
19. Steve Nash 2.423
20. Jerry West* 2.090
21. Dirk Nowitzki 1.801
22. Elgin Baylor* 1.659
23. Allen Iverson 1.567

Using this criterion, it appears that Dirk, with 4 more good years where he finished top 5 in the MVP, could pick up about 1 MVP share and reach 13th or 14th all-time.

He would be slightly better or slightly worse than KG and Moses. Better than Barkley, worse than Karl Malone.

Now, let's be clear here, Dirk has always been a very mediocre defender, a middling rebounder, and a just-average passer. His primary skill set is shooting and creating his own shot.

His career numbers of around 22-9-3 certainly do not match up with the all-time greats, and he has ZERO titles (including a horrendous loss in the finals to Miami).

So -- I guess time for a new poll question.

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