Basketball, Hall of Fame, Sports

Dirk Nowitzki Changed Basketball

As you may know, the other day Dirk Nowitzki became the only player in NBA history to reach 25,000 points, 10,000 boards, 1,000 blocks and 1,000 made 3-pointers. As others have noted, there have been good-shooting bigs before, but since the 3-point line was introduced, there has never been a player to combine size, scoring, counting stat “defense” and outside shooting like Dirk. Given this milestone, I wanted to see who else possibly compared. So, I did a little digging.

Players with the points, boards blocks but not the 3s:

There is literally only one other player in NBA history to reach 25,000 points, 10,000 boards, 1,000 blocks and 100 made 3s, and that’s Kevin Garnett. Dirk has hit 10 times as many 3-pointers as Garnett throughout their careers.


Players with the points, boards, 3s but not the blocks:

There are 0 players to have made it to 25,000 points, 10,000 boards and 1,000 made threes who have also managed to record at least 100 blocks. Zero. 0.

If we reduce the block requirement to zero, Dirk remains the only player in NBA history to record 25,000 points, 10,000 boards and 1,000 made 3s. The only one.


Players with the points, blocks and made 3s but not the boards

As you may have guessed by this point, no other player in history has managed to score 25,000 points while tallying 1,000 blocks and 1,000 made 3s.

  • Paul Pierce has managed the points and the 3s, but he has under 7,300 rebounds and 720 blocks as of March 26, 2015.
  • Kobe has managed the points and 3s as well, but only has 6800 rebounds and 627 blocks.

Kobe is a 2, as we all know, and Pierce is a swingman who has played only a very little 4 in his career – primarily for the Nets now that small-ball has become a thing.


Players with the boards, blocks and 3s but not the points

This group would obviously make the least sense, since blocked shots and 3-points have historically been mutually exclusive skill-sets. Dirk is the only player in history to manage both 10,000 boards and 1,000 3s, regardless of points scored or blocks made.

If we reduce the requirement to 5,000 boards and 1,000 3s, we get 14 players: Dirk, LeBron, Kobe, Pierce, Gary Payton, Ray Allen, Kidd, Vince, Rasheed Wallace, T-Mac, Rashard Lewis, Clifford Robinson, Antawn Jamison and Antoine Walker.

If we leave the boards qualification at 10,000 and drop the 3s to 500, we get 3 players: Dirk, Barkley and Shawn Marion.

All this is to say that, in today’s game, we are used to the concept of a “stretch 4”, i.e. a power forward who can shoot. But before Dirk, nobody really was a stretch 4. I mean Clifford Robinson really is the only antecedent – to hit the qualifiers – and Dirk is a significantly better shooter. Sheed, Walker, Lewis and Jamison all came into the league around the same time as Dirk – Sheed three years earlier, Walker one, Jamison and Lewis the same year as Dirk – and only Lewis has shot better from beyond the arc than Dirk. Dirk has shot better than all of them overall, and he’s taken 3,000 more shots than the next guy in that group.

He basically doesn’t have a comparable, and the game has changed where teams now want guys like Dirk, who can both shoot from anywhere and rebound – and block, at least a little – though Ibaka is likely the only player who really qualifies as a shot-blocker in the current crop of stretch 4s.

It remains to be seen if anyone will be able to hit all four of these milestones going forward. I would put money on it, just because of the sheer number of stretch 4s in the league, but it’s not going to happen soon. If you halve all the qualifying categories, there are only six players in the league who have accomplished 12,500 points, 5,000 boards, 500 blocks and 500 3s and all but one of them, LeBron, are in the final stages of their career. (He has the best chance of anyone but he is 3,500 rebounds away from joining Dirk’s club, and as he gets older, he will have fewer and fewer boards per game.)

Anyway, just wanted to say, as a Mavs fan, I have always been a big Dirk supporter but I never fully realized how utterly unique he was until this week. But I think coaches and GMs see the value in players like this – and players like this are now much more common – and so I won’t be surprised is this becomes more common in ensuing years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.