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Friday, October 15th, 2010 at 8:00 am  |  123 responses

Top 50: Dirk Nowitzki, no. 9

The definitive ranking of the NBA’s best players.

by Doobie Okon

Mark Cuban has many things. Money, fame, the Mavericks, money, ‘Entourage’ appearances, IceRocket, money, amongst many others. Money. But, in all truth, Cuban’s greatest asset hails from Wurzburg, Germany. dɪʁk ˈweʁnɐ noˈvitski…or Dirk Werner Nowitzki.

There seems to be much confusion on this Top 50 list regarding who the best power forward is in the NBA today. Is Tim Duncan still one of the best? Sure. Is Tim Duncan the greatest power forward of all time? You can’t argue with the numbers, awards, consistency, defense and the four rings…so it’s quite possible. But is he the best today? Anyone who watches sports and knows about the decline of players with age knows that he is not.

Some of you might say Pau Gasol. An integral part of the last two Lakers’ championships and one of the most skilled big meDirk Nowitzkin in the game. The best? I’ll say this in Spanish: No.

And then there’s Chris Bosh. He’s not the best PF either, and I could go into detail, but I honestly don’t feel like talking about the Heat anymore.

At a ripe, young age of only 32, Dirk Nowitzki holds the honor going into his 13th season as an NBA pro.

Let me paint a picture for you.

You’re about 6-6. You’re an extremely talented basketball player on both sides of the ball…hell, let’s say you’re one of the best in the world. While warming up for one of your games, you notice the other team has a 7-foot, lanky, European-looking fellow with some wavy blonde hair. Looks kind of soft.

So, after the tip, you take it right to him and score rather easily ’cause, hey, you’re one of the best in the world and his defense, as you guessed, is of no match. “This guy’s a chump…should be a cakewalk,” you think.

Next possession: “What’s going on? Why is the tall, gangly fella bringing the ball up the court?” Well since your own big men are settled in the post, you’re left to guard this German giant on the key. He spots up and swishes a gorgeous three-ball in your eye. “Huh?”

On his next offensive possession, you think you have him covered, guarding him tightly.

He nails another trey as his elbow comes down on your head. Remember? He’s 7-foot. You’re 6-6. You’re tall. He’s really tall.

“OK, OK. Nice Sam Perkins impression. I get it,” you say to yourself. So the next time down, you completely expect Euro-boy to jack up another long ball, but then he pulls a sly pump-fake, dashes around your ass, spins around your power forward and finishes with an easy lay-up. Foul. (He probably makes the foul shot, given that he’s a 7-footer who shoots around 90 percent from the stripe.)

Get the picture yet?

Dirk Nowitzki is one of the most unique, unprecedented players to ever step foot in the League. He has been lighting up the scoreboard for his entire career, always posing such a huge threat to defenses with his interior skills to go along with his incredible shooting range.

And while ‘Irk Nowitzki’ is an accurate diss, his numbers on the boards aren’t terrible. He has 8.5 rebounds for his career and has posted over 9 five times, but is still a defensive liability.

But while you can’t overstate the importance of defense, Dirk’s major flaw will never overshadow all the positive he brings to the game. He’s absolutely lethal shooting from anywhere on the court, but can also drive the lane and finish with authority or finesse.

Nowitzki’s shooting percentages are off the chart for a man of his size, especially since he recorded a career high 42.1 percent from beyond the arc last season. From anyway you look at it, there may never be another player like him. Unprecedented.

And soft he may be, but Dirkus is a durable big guy, which is a rare commodity these days. Since becoming an every-day starter for Dallas in his second year, the most games he’s missed in a season was six in ’01-02. Sorry Portland.

Most importantly though, Dirk always continues to make the Mavericks better. Dallas has amazingly won at least 50 games the last 10 years in a row…and Dirk Nowitzki is always the centerpiece no matter who Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson bring in. Dirk is the reason that American Airlines Center is always packed and bumpin’, not Mark Cuban.

But because of the Mavericks’ regular season success, a huge blemish remains on Dirk’s ever-growing legacy because of his team’s playoff failures. While posting some fantastic playoff numbers for his career (25.6 points and 10.9 boards…way better than his regular season numbers), he has failed to capture a championship and has only led the Mavs to the Finals once. Many think Dirk is to blame for Dallas not closing out the 2-0 lead over Miami, but Dwyane Wade won that series…Nowitzki didn’t lose it.

Championships are everything in sports though, I’d be lying if I said otherwise. Allen Iverson may be the greatest little men to ever play the game, but his career is slightly tarnished because of his lack of rings. It doesn’t seem right, but that’s just how it is. And until Dirk leads the Mavs to that coveted trophy, he will never be mentioned in the same breath as Tim Duncan for best power forward ever, when all is said and done.

Whether it’s fair or unfair.

Because this West German guy is a marvel. I’ve thought so since the day he came in the League…and year in, year out, he continues to be a top-10 player by anybody’s standards. Watch and cherish the skills…that of Mark Cuban’s greatest asset.

SLAMonline TOP 50 PLAYERS OVERALL RANK POSITION RANK
Player Team Position 2010 2009 2010 2009
Ray Allen Celtics SG 50 36 10 9
Gilbert Arenas Wizards SG 49 34 9 8
Lamar Odom Lakers PF 48 33 14 10
John Wall Wizards PG 47 NR 13 NR
OJ Mayo Grizzlies SG 46 46 8 12
Al Horford Hawks C 45 NR 6 NR
Jason Kidd Mavs PG 44 45 12 10
Joakim Noah Bulls C 43 NR 5 NR
LaMarcus Aldridge Blazers PF 42 39 13 12
David West Hornets PF 41 31 12 8
Monta Ellis Warriors SG 40 NR 7 NR
Andrew Bogut Bucks C 39 NR 4 NR
Yao Ming Rockets C 38 NR 3 NR
Brandon Jennings Bucks PG 37 NR 11 NR
Zach Randolph Grizzlies PF 36 NR 11 NR
Stephen Curry Warriors PG 35 NR 10 NR
David Lee Warriors PF 34 NR 10 NR
Brook Lopez Nets C 33 NR 2 NR
Gerald Wallace Bobcats SF 32 NR 7 NR
Manu Ginobili Spurs SG 31 29 6 7
Tony Parker Spurs PG 30 15 9 3
Kevin Garnett Celtics PF 29 13 9 3
Rudy Gay Grizzlies SF 28 44 6 9
Josh Smith Hawks PF 27 40 8 13
Andre Iguodala 76ers SG 26 26 5 6
Al Jefferson Jazz PF 25 23 7 7
Russell Westbrook Thunder PG 24 NR 8 NR
Chauncey Billups Nuggets PG 23 19 7 5
Tyreke Evans Kings PG 22 NR 6 NR
Danny Granger Pacers SF 21 21 5 5
Carlos Boozer Bulls PF 20 32 6 9
Paul Pierce Celtics SF 19 17 4 4
Joe Johnson Hawks SG 18 20 4 4
Rajon Rondo Celtics PG 17 27 5 8
Amar’e Stoudemire Knicks PF 16 16 5 6
Steve Nash Suns PG 15 22 4 6
Tim Duncan Spurs PF 14 6 4 1
Chris Bosh Heat PF 13 13 3 4
Derrick Rose Bulls PG 12 18 3 4
Brandon Roy Blazers SG 11 10 3 3
Pau Gasol Lakers PF 10 14 2 5
Dirk Nowiztki Mavs PF 9 9 1 2

Notes
• Rankings are based solely on projected ’10-11 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Jeremy Bauman, Maurice Bobb, Erildas Budraitis, Sean Ceglinsky, Ben Collins, Bryan Crawford, Sandy Dover, Adam Figman, Manny Maduakolam, Eddie Maisonet, Ryne Nelson, Doobie Okon, Ben Osborne, Charles Peach, Branden Peters, Quinn Peterson, David Schnur, Todd Spehr, Kyle Stack, Adam Sweeney, Dennis Tarwood, Tracy Weissenberg, Lang Whitaker, Eric Woodyard, and Nima Zarrabi.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.

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  • http://andrewwoods86@hotmail.com br1ll

    i have to disagree. when your a complete liability at your position and cant be considered the best. its two sides to every coin. unless ur Joker so are you joking?

  • http://www.fiba.com Darksaber

    *in Denzel’s Training Day voice*: MY MAN!

  • JTaylor21

    Dirk has being a Top-5 playoff performer the past 10 years and is WAY better than Gasol even without a ring.

  • tom

    I don´t think his D is that bad, he has improved over the years.

  • slimshady

    good stuff SLAM!

  • http://www.fiba.com Darksaber

    @ Doobie: very, very nice article. I’ll even forgive the “soft” tag you couldn’t resist putting in there (what, was Khalid holding a desert eagle to your head? Ha.)

  • JoeMaMa

    Dirk…I just don’t think he’s a power forward. Doesn’t play the wing like a 3, and he’s definitely not a 5. He’s the kind of player that creates his own position…which helps illustrate just how good he is. One of the best shooters in the game…in the past 20 years.

  • http://www.slamonline.com James the Balla

    My top ten is looking good : D
    1. Kobe
    2. Wade
    3. Bron
    4. Durant
    5. Paul
    6. Deron
    7. Dwight
    8. Carmelo
    9. Dirk
    10.Gasol

  • niemand

    @JoeMaMa

    IMO, he’s no four, no three, no nothing, he’s just Dirk.

  • niemand

    @JoeMaMa

    IMO, he’s not a three or a four or wathever position, he’s just Dirk Nowitzki.

    And that’s one of the best players in the NBA.

  • http://www.slamonline.com James the Balla

    *raise hand*

  • http://www.twitter.com/HurstySYD Hursty

    Doobie, this was really solid. Good post. Good ranking.

  • http://www.slamonline.com James the Balla

    I have always liked Dirk. He is a beast when he catches fire and his shot is my favourite shot in the NBA except for Ray, and on my list he would be tied with Durant and Melo.

  • mubwar

    Bargnani does all of those as well with less average at 17 points and 6.5 rebounds…watch some raptors games Doobie Okon and u will see Dirk isn’t unique at all…

  • http://www.slamonline.com James the Balla

    Mubwar… are you drunk?

  • http://slamonline.com MVPballer

    Haha how can you compare Bargnani to Dirk? Bargnani shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same breath as Nowitzki.

  • http://www.fiba.ch Darksaber

    Bwahahaha, okay James the B’s response made me laugh out loud for real…

  • http://andrewwoods86@hotmail.com andrew woods

    dirk cant be considered the best at his position if he is a liablity on the the defensive end. it just cant happen. of course his offensive skill set is beyond approach but basketball is about more than offensive.

  • http://www.slamonline.com James the Balla

    Barg got mentioned in a Dirk sentence for roughly 9 months, and than everyone realized what the he11 they were talking about, and it was never mentioned again. It’s like saying Kobe isn’t a unique talent because Joey Graham basically does the same thing just less numbers. Or Warrick is the same as Bron. The day I run an NBA team and the only 7 footer on my team is my 4th leading rebounder, that will be the day I trade for a Gerald Wallace type player and have him play center, with less complaints!

  • smooth

    @james the baller why do you have wade in the top two and for dirk i think he should be rank better in my opion this should be melo spot

  • smooth

    bargnani is garbage compare to dirk

  • http://www.slamonline.com James the Balla

    @Smooth… Melo will be a beast there year I think. He will have a better season than Dirk. If Melo is a beast, he will have a lot more contracts and options come his way if he doesn’t get traded and leaves as a FA. And I have Wade above Bron because Bron is not the leader on the team… not yet anyways. It may happen after the season, a few months down the road or three games into the season. But as of right now it’s Wade’s team, I think Wade will have the same kind of numbers as Bron. To each their own, I took a shot to see if SLAM thinks the same thing.

  • http://www.dimemag.com Royal

    Good spot…Dirk’s a beast

  • The Philosopher

    Hello, James.

  • The Philosopher

    If Dirk had THE/Kobe’s killer instinct, he could get 100 points.
    He would be the one…

  • t-sizzle

    Good article. Dirk at number 9 seems good, but he’s the number 1 pf. League sure is going small, all the good players are pgs and sgs and sfs..

  • Morgan

    I love proof-reading things before I post them on an internet site.

  • Armando

    To those complaining about Dirk’s low post game, and lack of offensive rebounds: A basket is a basket right? And Dirk scores at a high percentage, so how you score should be irrelevant. Obviously you’re not that likely to grab many offensive boards when your offensive game is mostly mid-long range, but you can’t have it all right, it’s not like the Mavs have been a failure because of Dirk’s offense. Decent defensive rebound rate, a killer when it matters (playoffs). Yes, the best four in the game today (however untraditional).

  • Furious

    Again, it calls me Morgan. The Morgan comment is mine actually.

  • Dagger

    Have to say, I think Dirk’s a little low. He’s clutch, he plays with pain and his D isn’t as bas as this article suggests.

  • Dagger

    *bad

  • http://slamonline.com Kap

    It’s funny that when guys argue he is better than Pau they can only name one thing that he does better and that’s score and then they bring up the Memphis days. What about what Gasol did to Dirk in the World Championships?

  • http://slamonline.com Kap

    Dirk and Pau had a PER last year that was almost identical and Pau was better in every category except for scoring and usage rate.

  • KH10

    Everyone is always ripping on guys defense, off topic but I’d be interested to hear you guys (and girls) rank the top 5 defenders in the league. Dirk isn’t great but he’s no liability either.

  • http://yahoo.com eboyhater

    hey james the balla are we still trying to ban the annoying jtayler of slamonline?

  • http://itsahardwoodlife.blogspot.com omphalos

    Okay see right there at the start of the article is why he’s not the best power forward; he plays like a guard/SF even if he is forced to defend them. I’ll still take Gasol if I want a guy in the paint.

  • Zeiramsy

    @Kap
    Well do you remember what Dirk did to Pau in the Euros 2005? Saying Pau is better because of his national success is a bad argument. First of all Dirk dominated Paul in head-to-head match-ups and secondly Spains team is so much better than Germany that you can´t compare success. Spain has 4.5 (Rubio is .5) NBA-Players while Germany has one.

  • doobie

    First of all I wasn’t calling dirk soft, I was just saying that’s how u might look at him in a game at first if u had no idea who he was.
    Secondly, he is a defensive liability, there’s no way around it. He’s a good rebounder but he hasn’t been the greatest low post defender…he’s not the worst by any stretch of the imagination but cmon at this point its no secret what dirks flaw is on the court

  • GDav-6

    @Kap +1 even though I’m not a fan of Pau I think he’s better than Dirk.

    My only doubt is… who’s the 6-6 guard in the story? LOL

  • http://www.kb24.com The Seed

    Dirk and Pau are not in the same sentence, anywhere period. Dirk doesn’t get the credit he deserves, if he wins that ring as the man in (NBA REF GATE FINALS), Slam would have him top 5, If Pau stayed in Memphis he would be 32. Its funny how being on a bigger stage, makes you seem better. Also in my writeup on the Pau no. 10 comment on that article, he was a better player in Memphis and any true Laker fan understands we are getting the better shooting Pau, but not the overall better player. Pau has played good not great in a Lakers uniform and Dirk is way better than Pau, Pau post moves are being overrated, like I stated in other post. Dirk is higher on my list and Pau is way lower. Dirk is a great player, never to me has he had a great number 2 guy to help him out (Nash/Finley don’t count-ex.Dissappear in Playoffs) Dirk should have left Dallas and created his own legacy somewhere else, but loyalty is going to never get him a ring. BOOK IT!!

  • doobie

    Its you GDav-6. Its you.

  • http://www.slamonline.com James the Balla

    @eboyhater, I wish.

  • http://slamonline.com Kap

    @Seed
    Do you remember those games Kobe missed last year where Gasol avg. 21 pts 19 rebs 6 assists against the Spurs and Jazz and the Lakers won? Nuff said…BOOK IT!!

  • The D Train

    I don’t profess to understand the metrics games, but I found this article entertaining in regards to Dirk’s supposed lack of defense. I have often wondered if it was a function of his being slow, white and European. I remember him getting it handed to him early in his career, but as he got older, I don’t remember him getting completely lit up, even against the likes of Duncan, KG and Webber in the playoffs. I’m not saying he didn’t, but I do not remember it. The funny thing about this list is that I don’t think anyone would argue with most of the guys on it. And although it makes my head spin, this seems to be the important part of the equation: “What dMULT now attempts is to measure is the points created per possession used allowed by a player’s box score counterparts versus their usual production. So a dMULT of .869, which is what Thabo Sefolosha currently sports, means that his counterparts have been 13.1 percent less productive when going against Thabo. A dMULT of 1.105 would mean that opponents have been 10.5 percent more productive. And so on.”….http://www.basketballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=918

  • http://www.kb24.com The Seed

    @Kap
    Also during those games Shannon Brown had career highs in scoring and rebounds, wow, man he steped up, that surely makes him worth it. Gasol has played good, but not great since being a Laker. Alot of players play when stars are out and get points. Gasol needs to play on the board better each game and please I watch all the Laker games and he still disappears alot, but people who don’t watch him on a nightly basis are arguing with me. Cool, watch the games when the Lakers are not on TV during the weeks to see his overall game and impact. Too many times he passes out of the post, instead of going out his man and truly has a hard time now creating shots for himself unless he goes to a jumpshot or semi hook shot. Pau is being overrated, but who cares he played better in Memphis and Dirk and Bosh and AL would be on my team before him. BOOK IT!!

  • http://www.slamonline.com James the Balla

    So to anyone here, if you were starting a team, a franchise, or you were going to trade for an all star player and start to re-build, you would take Gasol over Dirk?

  • http://www.slamonline.com James the Balla

    I would take Dirk 100 percent of the time. If I could switch Pau and Dirk right now on the Lakers, I would.

  • http://slamonline.com Kap

    I watch all the Lakers games with league pass but he disappeared sometimes because when he passed the ball out to reestablish position he would not get it back and they did not play through him like they should have because the guards would get jumpshot happy.

  • http://www.slamonline.com James the Balla

    I don’t agree with Seed. But I don’t agree with you either Kap. Just because Pau averaged ridiculous numbers for a couple games while Kobe was out, doesn’t mean he is amazing, but I know you were just trying to give Seed an example. Pau plays phenomenal for the Lakers, and plays great when Kobe is absent from games where he isn’t playing good, or isn’t playing at all due to injuries. But he is no number 1 option, and he isn’t vocal enough to be a true leader (yes Eboy, guys can be leaders without being vocal, I know lol). Pau is the 2nd best number two in the league, but he is not better than Dirk. And I cringe when Pau shoots, even though he has an okay jump shot, it is still terribly ugly and it is a hard shot to judge if it’s going in or not.

  • basketblogger

    once upon a time when pau gasol was on memphis http://www.nba.com/playoffs2006/series_dalmem.html

  • Jer Dawg

    If Dirk went to Lakers, Kobe would make Dirk tougher immediately. Yeah, it would be unorthodox to have a 7 footer out on perimeter, but It would work because the triangle offense will work. And weren’t people having the similar criticism of Pau when he was in Memphis? KB made Pau tougher and KB would make Dirk tougher. Bottom line. Euros aren’t as stubborn as the other athletes. By nature, they are unselfish and play team first basketball. Kwame Brown? Can’t play period. Smush Parker? Stuborn and selfish. Chris Mihm? Can’t play However, if he was there with Dirk it could work. It would be like Will Purdue or Bill Wenington with MJ and Bulls back in the day.

  • bambe

    Just remember where the mavs were before they drafted Dirk. Only one team can win the chamionship. Dirk has been a blessing for our team!!

  • http://www.kb24.com The Seed

    @James the Baller
    You don’t agree with me, but stated the same thing I said. Pau is no number one option and has played ok/good with the Lakers and all he really does is shoot jumpers which I hate and do the semi hook. LOL
    and I stated Pau is not even in Dirks time zone. I still would take an athetlic Bosh and stronger post player demanding double teams in Al Jefferson over Pau, who everyone loves now since he is a Laker. Don’t agree to disagree son. BOOK IT!!

  • http://www.slamonline.com James the Balla

    I think the jump shot is the last thing I want him doing, but he does so much more than shoot jump shots and semi hooks! And I don’t agree with taking Bosh or Al over him. Pau has way to much finesse, he fits in to perfect for the Lakers system. I think Bosh may end up being better than Pau, but on the Lakers I would take Pau over Bosh because of the system.

  • http://www.kb24.com The Seed

    I thought you watched the Lakers play man. Am I the only true Laker fan up here. Bosh and AL would kill in the Lakers offense. Bosh could do more than just post up, because he can shoot. Al would demand double teams more regulary and not pass out when a player runs at him like Pau does. If you think Pau is better for the Lakers than Al and Bosh, really where have you been for the past months man. Also don’t forget Bynum a poor man center was killing with the Lakers before Pau got there. So if you think Bosh and AL can’t do better in the triangle offense you just must be a Pau fan. I like him but he can improve his post play and shooting/rebounding to me. BOOK IT!!

  • onlyclipsfanonslam

    We were on this subject yesterday… Pau is a much better player. People keep on brining up the past. This is about today, the now, the upcoming season. My argument remains: Game 7 4th quarter. The Celtics were double and triple teaming him, and he still was the most important player in that game not Kobe, not Artest.

  • http://www.slamonline.com James the Balla

    I would rather have Al instead of Bynum, MAYBE. But Pau’s passing is what helps him with the Lakers. Plus his basketball IQ is off the charts.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    D-Train
    I disagree on the defense thing. You don’t see cats like Oberto, or Gortat or even Big Z getting called soft and they all fit the slow, white European model, right?
    Nah, Dirk has improved on defense, but he’s still below average in head to head matchups. He’s decent as a team defender.
    I’m most impressed with how he improves on the glass in the playoffs, he really gets quite a few boards. But, on defense, he basically is finding a way to avoid fouls and get back to offense. Lol.
    Gasol is a better defender, but it’s not like Gasol is great shakes on defense. When he’s forced to guard players on his own level offensively, he gets done in pretty bad.
    I’m telling y’all, go watch that Finals again. When KG decided to take it at Gasol, there was nothing he could do. And let’s not even discuss what Amare was doing.

  • http://twitter.com/soulonice6 Kenny

    GREAT write-up, brother. As a Dallas native, and a Dirk Apologist, I wholeheartedly dig it.

  • The D Train

    @clipsfan: “Pau is a much better player.” Today…the now…the upcoming season. Dirk is better today. He was better yesterday. And he will be better tomorrow. You say “people keep bringing up the past” then you proceed to bring up the past as your proving-point. Seems kind of hypocritical, no? If you wanted to say “Pau is slightly better,” I would only think you half-crazy. But to say he’s “much better” means you refuse to account for so many factors. Dirk has historically been better. Dirk has proven to be a better leading man. Dirk does not get to play 2nd fiddle to the best, or second best, player in the league. Dirk doesn’t get to play for the best coach in the league. Dirk does not get to play with the same quality/size of teammates as Pau. Dirk averages more points AND rebounds per game in the playoffs for his career than does Kung-Pau. So taking a 12 minute sampling while ignoring the past decade makes your argument completely flawed. The simple fact is that you have to try to boil it down to a few scant minutes because, based on their respective body’s of work, there is zero basis to say that Pau Gasol is, or has ever been, better than Dirk Nowitzki.

  • bashmo

    Allenp i couldnt agree more..gasol is kind of an overrated defender…and dirk while being a bit of soft defender, is an offensive nuke, theres really no way to guard him, he can post up, he can drive, he can shoot, even from three lol, so yes, dirk is a beast and he is definitely the best PF in the game right now.

    Next up is Carmelo or Dwight, one of the two, followed by CP3 or Deron Williams

  • http://www.slamonline.com/online/category/blogs/san-dova-speak-easy/ San Dova

    Nice stuff, Doobie. Nice stuff.

  • The D Train

    @Allen: How do you quantify “below average in head to head matchups?” And I am not being snarky here, I am seriously asking you. As mentioned, I don’t know much about the metrics game. The link that I posted seems to indicate that for last season, Dirk’s opps were approx 18% less effective when he was guarding them. Obviously one can get into trouble with these metrics if you use it as your bottom-line, but if we use it as general guide, I think it can at least point us in the right direction. I would never say that Dirk is an excellent defender, but I wonder if he might be better than we think. As I said previously, I just don’t see a lot of games where Dirk scores 30 and his opponent scores 30. He seems to be a net gain…in fact I think that 82games.com has a stat showing him and Pau are at 9.4 and 9.3 for net difference in pts for/pts allowed.

    Regarding the “soft” definition. You make a good point about Gortat and Co. I would then counter by saying that one could factor in Dirk’s propensity for shooting jumpers (especially the feathery fade-aways) in addition to the slow, white, European outdated model. If anyone has watched Dirk play I just cannot see how anyone can say that dude is soft. He never misses games. He bumps his game up in the more physical playoffs. So I find it curious that he is deemed to be even remotely soft.

  • http://www.twitter.com/TheDiesel Anton

    8. Melo
    7. Dwight
    6. CP3
    5. Kobe
    4. Durant
    3. Wade
    2. LeBro
    1. Twitter

  • http://www.slamonline.com J

    I’d take Big Al over Bynum too. 70 games a year is better than 60. Lol. But seriously Al is a monster. He’s better than what Bynum could ever be. But Big Al over Pau in a triangle? I think I’ll have Pau because of better passing which is essential to the triangle. I can’t overlook that. Having Al paired with Bynum is somehow redundant. Both plays on the same area though Al is way better player. Pau can stretch the floor a little bit more than Big Al.

  • The D Train

    @Allen: 2 quick things: KG was destroying Pau in those Finals. You have a great point there. A lot of the Greatness of Pau talk would be much quieter, I believe, if KG would have been healthy enough in those games. I have a feeling it would have been a replay of 2 years ago. Separately, how the hell do you get your posts to space out on this site? I cannot format my rambling rants to anything that is remotely coherent because there is no spaces or paragraph breaks. I apologize to everyone for that.

  • http://www.slamonline.com J

    this feels a little low for dirk. in my opinion he’ probably top 5. btw i hate this dude. he’s got one of kobe’s mvps

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    I would question who Dirk guards D-Train. Is he being asked to guard bums, or is he guarding players with serious offensive talent.
    In my experience, Dirk has the luxury of guarding bums with Chandler and Diop handling the really tough matchups. It’s not a stats based thing, more just watching him play.
    When I watch Dirk I don’t see him really locking people up. I see him avoiding fouls, getting rebounds and killing on offense. But, I also don’t see many teams with enough quality big men to force Dirk to defend.
    I think he’s soft because of his mentality. It’s not that he’s not clutch, he can be amazingly clutch. But there is a certain feeling that the moment overwhelms him at times, and I still have the feeling that physical play can bother and frustrate him. When refs let contact go, it definitely hurts him game more. But, when refs call the game more closely, Dirk has a myriad of ways to initiate and create contact while still being able to get up quality shots.
    I appreciate Dirk’s game even if it is unorthodox. But, I do think that sometimes, he shrinks, and physical play seems to cause that shrinkage.
    In contrast, someone like KG isn’t bothered by physical play, but he still shrinks during big moments at times. Not always, but sometimes.
    I wish I could express “soft” in degrees. Dirk isn’t Andrea soft, but he still has a little softness about him. Nowhere near as much as before though.
    You know?

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    I just press enter. And it adds the paragraph breaks automatically.
    See.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    ^ more people that don’t care about defense. Bynum with a scoring offensive threat on his team >>>>>>>> Al Jefferson. Bynum is 3 inches taller, a lot longer, and way way better at defense.

  • Rainman

    Pau was called the best PF in his column and spot at the top 50…

    Slam needs 2 make up its damn mind lol.

    although i’d agree with Dirk over Pau anyday…

  • onlyclipsfanonslam

    @D-Train I was talking about playoffs series and performances from the Memphis days. Pau is a much better player now.what is the last thing you remember about last season. Oh yeah that’s right Pau dominating KG in game 6 and 7. People keep on saying KG probably wasn’t 100%. Well, Pau probably wasn’t either, but Pau just made KG look bad.

    I said it yesterday, most of you guys wouldn’t think twice about degrading Magic Johnson’s value because he played with Cap. Magic was second Banana most of his career, and for that majority of his rings, to Kareem

  • The D Train

    @Allen: I wonder if a lot of the defensive abilities of guys, especially those that don’t have a ton of steals and blocks, is judged on the “I know it when I see it” method. That actually makes sense because defensive ability/contributions are so hard to quantify. Jordan was a great defender in terms of steals, but I think every player from that day would rather have had to try to score on MJ than Michael Cooper. So my point is that Dirk doesn’t look the part (in other words we do not see him ultra-aggressive like KG on D), and is not a great defender, but if he’s even average, or slightly above, I think that a lot of us would be shocked because that is not the picture that is painted of Dirk. Sort of like if one tries to point out flaws in Kobe’s clutch-time shooting. There is a perception of Kobe as ultra-clutch, when the reality is that he is probably somewhere closer to above-average (based on clutch shooting percentages, at least). If someone says Dirk is a poor defender, not too many eye-brows are raised, but the reality might be that he’s actually closer to average.

  • The D Train

    @clips fan: Magic to Cap as Pau to Kobe is a bad comparison at this point. Magic was the man on the latter title teams. Pau is not the man on the Lakers as long as Kobe is Kobe. If Kobe starts rocking the goggles and lumbering up the court as a Muresan’esque pace, then Pau will have his chance to really shine.

  • http://kb24.com Bigi

    8. Melo
    7. Deron
    6. Dwight
    5. CP3
    4. Wade
    3. Lebron
    2. Kobe
    1. KD
    Is what the SLAM list will look like.

  • http://sdjfklf.com Jukai

    Gasol gets abused on switches by “guards of equal talent?”
    What player made you see that, Allen? Cough cough…

  • http://www.slamonline.com J

    Hey that’s not me at 1:10..

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Oops, should have written “Dampier” not Chandler. My bad.

  • The D Train

    RE: Dirk’s perceived softness. I think he did irreversible damage to how he is perceived by Dallas losing in the Finals, then following that up with the S-Jax / GS domination the next year. Watching that dude take down SA in a game 7 in SA, and winning those 2 games at the start of the 2006 Finals had him on the precipice of greatness. We all know how that turned out. I’ve seen Dirk go toe-to-toe with the best PF’s of his generation in the playoffs, and more than hold his own. I’ve seen him play at least 76 games every year since he became a starter. So while I will agree with you that if the refs let the game get physical, Dirk gets in trouble, I cannot say that he’s soft.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Jukai, I don’t know what you mean.
    I was saying that when Gasol goes up against cats like Amare, Bosh or KG, I’m not impressed with his defense. Sure he looks great dominating Jeff Green and Boozer because they are freaking midgets. He did pretty good, but not great against Dwight Howard. But, you can’t just leave Gasol on an island against his man, which is what I think you have to be able to do to a certain degree with a “good” defender.
    Garnett can guard Pau straight up. Gasol can’t do the same.
    And I don’t know what Game 7 y’all watched, but I saw Garnett giving Gasol work, but Doc consistetly running isos and screen rolls for Pierce who got swallowed up by Ron Artest and the team lost it’s rhythm.
    If the Celts had kept riding Garnett I think they could have won that game. Gasol didn’t want anything to do with Garnett or Sheed.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    THe Lakers were Magic Johnsons team the day after he jumped center and clinched the title without Kareem. Everyone who has some semblance of history in basketball knows that.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    DTrain
    I just want to say you make a great argument and you almost swayed me. Just so you know.

  • http://www.slamonline.com J

    If they can force Pau to be a better defender then I’m sure they can do that to Big Al too if he was a Laker. And its not that Al is a bad defender. He’s a very tough player. But then again I’m not pairing Al with Bynum on a TRIANGLE. I’m taking Al over Bynum in terms of talent or who I’m going to build to.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Al is not a very good defender at all, he’s to slow against PF’s and to small against Centers. And he isn’t athletic enough to be a dominant help defender either. What Bynum does for LA is hide most of Pau’s defensive weaknesses. If Al was there instead him and Pau would both get abused. Lamar Odom is a better defensive 4 then both of those guys. (Pau is more of a 5 on defense IMO)

  • The D Train

    @Allen: Thank you, sir. It is hard to have a quality debate on these boards without someone resorting to name-calling or hyperbole. I appreciate the solid back-and-forth.

  • arjae828

    hmmm dirk or Pau?! that’s a toss up. But damn if Pau wasn’t the real MVP of the finals.

  • http://slamonline.com Kap

    LO is not a better defender than Bynum. LO is 6’10 and Bynum is 7’1 with ridiculous long arms. He alters shots just by lifting his arms.

  • JTaylor21

    AllenP is on point. If the celts had kept on feeding the ball to KG and Sheed in the post they COULD have won that game but instead they were forcing it to PP who was being shutdown by Artest throughout the whole game. Two things killed the celts, PP and change in refereeing style.

  • http://slamonline.com Kap

    Pau Gasol damn sure did not show up when the Lakers were in Boston…so he damn sure wasn’t the MVP. Yes, I have been swayed. I would definitely take Dirk because Gasol. ARJAE828 crazy statement reminded me how bad Gasol played in Boston.

  • http://idunkonthem.blogspot.com/ albie1kenobi

    just an observation: the top 2 pf in this ranking are foreign players, and neither of them have a power game. power forward is such a misnomer nowadays in NBA.

  • http://slamonline.com Kap

    That is so true. Everyone that’s 6’9 or above now wants to be like LBJ and Durant. I guess that’s just how the game has evolved. You gotta blame the GMs for that because they keep signing big guys who are perimeter based.

  • http://scott.r.carter10@gmail.com Scott Carter

    Number 8 should be Deron Williams.

  • http://thephotoriot.com davidR

    agree with d-train regarding dirk. call him soft all you want for dallas collapsing in the finals, dwest slapping him, and the sjax shutting him down, but dude is rugged. i also can’t call someone who holds his own against the best PFs, beat SA in their home on a game 7, and consistently play 75+ games a season even with injuries, soft.
    i guess because he’s not a rough player, he is automatically soft.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Kap who said LO is a better defender then Bynum? Where did you get that from?

  • vtrobot

    It’s good that it sparks discussion, but the list gets pretty subjective through these next couple numbers. How is CP3 one number higher or lower than Dwight? You can’t really compare those two. I would take Dirk on a team before ‘Melo. I would take Dirk before Pau too.

  • Benjy

    8. Deron Williams.
    7. Melo
    6. Dwight
    5. Chris Paul
    4. Kevin Durant
    3. Dwyane Wade
    2. Kobe
    1. LeBron
    Personally, I think Kobe’s better, but you can’t argue with the back to back MVP and the fact that Kobe, like Duncan, is a year older. I still think Kobe’s got plenty left to go this year tho. The year after that, after the Heat settle, I could potentially see a Heat-Thunder rivalry setting itself up.

  • JH

    Need 4 more people for a competitive H2H Yahoo League drafting this Sunday. Feel free to join…but be active.

    League ID#: 12722
    League Name: Justice League
    Password: password
    Draft Type: Live Standard Draft
    Draft Time: Sun Oct 17 8:00pm MDT [ Add to My Calendar ]
    Max Teams: 12
    Scoring Type: Head-to-Head

  • jsoto213

    carmelo is better than durant!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://slamonline.com Brad Long

    I’ll take Pau any day.

  • http://www.danchamb.com.br Lz – Cphfinest3

    Dirk is better than Carmelo, just saying. Look at their respective playoffs performances, it is Dirk by a mile. Then again Pau is probably better/more valuable end-to-end than Dirk. Both Pau and Dirk should be above Melo imo.

  • Logdoinlog

    Why is it in all of these top 10′s people keep putting CP3 above Deron? Deron is the same player, just bigger, stronger, and a wayyy better defender.

  • http://www.stonesthrow.com Michael NZ

    Dirk and Pau ranked below Melo is a travesty. Thats some SLAM bias right there.

  • logues

    teen wolf

  • The Philosopher

    Kap:
    You are doing your thing.
    You have just explained why Magic Johnson is the Greatest Player In NBA History.
    SLAM Brethren:
    Please study Brother Kap’s
    2:49p.m. comment.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    Comparing PFs to have never won a finals trophy – Dirk. Sir Charles. Karl Malone…. who wins?

  • JTaylor21

    ^KMalone all the way.

  • Elvis Freshly

    I got one thing to say… KD is NOT ahead of carmelo. I’m not hating KD is one of my favorite players and can score at will but I’d take Melo over him any day.

  • AdrianC513

    So Ron Artest didnt make the Top 50???

  • starky larky

    8. Dwight Howard
    7. Deron Williams
    6. Carmelo Anthony
    5. Chris Paul
    4. Kobe Bryant
    3. Dwyane Wade
    2. LeBron James
    1. Kevin Durant

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Number 8 should be Carmelo Anthony. Deron Williams should be ranked higher than him.

  • feez22

    Great placement for dirk. 9th is good for him. he is obviously still the best PF in the game hands down even with the “soft” label. btw for people trying to bring him down to pau’s level due to his PER get this: Chris Bosh has a PER of 25 good for 4TH in the LEAGUE yet he is ranked at 13 so PER obviously has nothing to do with this. take that out and you will realise dirk is the BEST european player in this league HANDS DOWN and on top of that is the best PF in the game. say what u want about him. fact is as a PF he rebounds better than amare whom is also seen as a PF to most people, shoots better than any PF, scores better than any PF, plays better than any PF at the moment in the playoffs (his team while having depth has nobody outside of him that can demand a double team… sad isn’t it?), is more clutch than any PF in the game today and most importantly as the man leads his team of largely past prime players/ cusp rotation players/caron butler (ya caron can be an all star but in the west now? i dont think so) to the playoffs with reasonable seeding every yr. So yes i agree with this placement. and to laker fans with your gasol BS i pose this question: If gasol were the “man” would he be this overblown? oh wait… that answer was already answered in memphis…..

  • http://www.stonesthrow.com Michael NZ

    @Teddy-the-Bear: word, good sir.

  • tavoris

    Dirk is one of the 4 of 5 best shooters EVER-not just in the last 20 years.

  • http://thekobebeef.wordpress.com LDR4

    Dirk’s defense is not that bad anymore. I don’t know why people think it is 2005 when they talk about him. He forces a ton of deflections around the paint. They might not be scored as blocks but they are the next best thing. And seriously…Pau? Rating a player based on his PER is as useless as actually reading anything that John Hollinger writes. No thanks. Pau’s good but not that good. He also plays on the block a lot more because he plays center more than he does power forward. Their defensive ratings were only 3 points apart last season. Over the course of their careers, Dirk has posted a better defensive rating average. Dirk is the best foreign player in the league. He will probably go down as the best foreign player to ever play in the NBA.

  • tavoris

    LDR-he already is IMHO

  • Big E

    Being bigger and slapping, hacking and grabbing in Jerry Sloan’s system does NOT make one a better defender.

  • http://boombasketball.com/ Dave von BOOM

    DIRK FOR BUNDESKANZLER !!!

  • Pingback: SLAM ONLINE | » Top 50: Chris Paul, no. 7

  • ab40

    Wow I didn’t know AI was men and not just a man. He’s more than one person you tell me? btw dirk is underrated. like most I hated him for being soft and not killing everybody in the post but this is cool too this is his thing. btw the german team is sponsored by a company from my country so I’m good HA

  • http://hoopistani.blogspot.com hoopistani

    Pau > Dirk

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  • Brian D.

    Dirk is TOUGH. He just doesn’t have to show it like Pierce/Garnett/Wade always do. I’ve watched Dirk forever and people saying he doesn’t like physical play know NOTHING. Every physical game (refs don’t call fouls) DAL plays, Dirk ALWAYS puts up 30+ points because he can finish with contact/grabbing (watch games for once people!).
    Dirk being “soft” is stupid…He and Kobe are 1/2 in points the last 10-12 years for a reason – their body language, games (inside/out, clutch) and toughness/clutch ability are VERY similar. Dirk’s playoff #’s, clutchness, and career back all this up. Nothing backs up some of the comments I’m reading.

  • the Truth

    hey Slam where does Dirk rank now? :p

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