All-Time Optimal Lineup: Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk Nowitzki

Similar to the idea of the All-Time Optimal Lineup around Giannis Antetokounmpo, I will construct the ‘ideal’ lineup around Dirk Nowitzki. Unlike Giannis, Dirk was a star that didn’t rely on athleticism or his playmaking ability, but more so a star that relied on his height and shooting ability. The Mavericks had many different lineups around Dirk Nowitzki, some more successful than others. Since Dirk Nowitzki was a power forward, a point guard, shooting guard, small forward, center, and sixth man will be looked at in depth to build the optimal lineup around Dirk.

Point Guard: Eric Bledsoe w/ Milwaukee Bucks

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Bledsoe is arguably a top three guard defender in the NBA right now. His strength, speed, and quickness make him a nightmare for opposing guards to line up against. Every player in this lineup has the ability to create offense. Furthermore, at point guard, the player doesn’t have to be a great passer. Bring in Bledsoe, who currently plays alongside of Giannis, who is the primary playmaker for the Bucks. Bledsoe can be the primary playmaker, but he can also play off superstar talent. On top of that, he is an elite defender, and can knock down a three if open. Like I said previous, the Point Guard in this lineup has to be able to create offense, but also play off of other superstar talent. Because this lineup around Dirk is going to be primarily athletic 3-and-D players, Eric Bledsoe is the perfect fit manning the Point Guard position.

Shooting Guard: Joe Dumars w/ Detroit Pistons

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If you are looking for one of the most lockdown wings of all time, look no further than Joe Dumars. Dumars was the player who defended Michael Jordan on those Pistons teams in the late 80’s to the early 90’s. Pair his all-time defense with his career 38.2% field goal percentage from behind the arc, Dumars is the perfect 3-and-D wing to pair with Dirk Nowitzki. He can put the ball on the floor and create offense as well, as he averaged 4.5 assists per game. Joe D is the ideal shooting guard to play with Dirk because of his unique skillset that entails elite defense, above average shooting from three, and his playmaking ability.

Small Forward: Alex English w/ Denver Nuggets

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In his ten and a half seasons with the Denver Nuggets, Alex English’s scoring average did not dip below 20 points per game. English will serve as the second scoring option to playing with Dirk. He was one of the most prolific scorers that played in the NBA during the 80’s. Alex English never was an effective shooter, shooting 21% from downtown. Where he was successful was playing as a slasher and in mid range scoring. Dirk and Dumars will stretch the floor for English, making him a perfect fit in this lineup. Picture the English-Nowitzki pick-and-pop too, those two will bring the best out of eachother due to how their play styles will mesh.

Power Forward: Dirk Nowitzki

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Playing the power forward is the man who this lineup is built around, Dirk Nowitzki. Dirk has one ring, a Finals MVP, an MVP, and a 14x All-Star. Nowitzki is certainly one of the all time greats, but he lacks some athleticism. That’s the basis of this lineup, athleticism and defense.

Center: Bam Adebayo w/ Miami Heat

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Obviously Bam is having his best season of his young career this year, and it is pretty clear why he is. Combine his athleticism with his length, he is one of the best defensive big men in the league right now. Because of Bam’s elite defensive skill and athleticism, he fits into the lineup I am trying to build alongside Dirk. Averaging over ten rebounds per game and a block a game, Adebayo will be the defensive anchor to this hypothetical lineup. Add in that Bam can guard Power Forward or Center, so putting him into this lineup allows Nowitzki to focus more on the offensive side of the ball.

The one knock on Adebayo is his size, only 6’9″, he is a tad bit undersized to play the center position. But Dirk standing at 7′ makes up for the height loss at center.

6th Man: Manu Ginóbili w/ San Antonio Spurs


Arguably the best sixth man of all time, Ginóbili fits the mold of the guard I want coming off the bench. The four-time NBA Champ is one of the best scorers coming off the bench in history. Not only is he a proven scorer, but Manu is a very skilled passer as well, averaging about four assists per game.

Ginóbili played with Tim Duncan, a skilled big man throughout his career. Playing with Duncan, running the pick-and-roll with Duncan, is going to be pretty similar to how Ginóbili would play with Nowitzki. He is a playmaker, and that’s what Nowitzki had with Jason Terry coming off the bench in Dallas. Manu would do everything Terry did, I just think he’d do it better.

The ‘Optimal’ Lineup

  • Point Guard: Eric Bledsoe
  • Shooting Guard: Joe Dumars
  • Small Forward: Alex English
  • Power Forward: Dirk Nowitzki
  • Center: Bam Adebayo
  • 6th Man: Manu Ginóbili

Every player in this lineup is a playmaker and can play off of Dirk’s shooting ability. The primary basis of offense would either be pick-and-pop with Nowitzki, or pick-and-roll with Bam Adebayo. English and Nowitzki are the two primary scoring options with Ginóbili coming off of the bench as another scorer. Defensively they make up for Nowitzki’s weakness by adding in Adebayo, Dumars, and Bledsoe. The team would be strong in transition as well as Bledsoe, Dumars, English, and Adebayo will run the floor, and Nowitzki fits perfectly as a trailer.

Who would you have in a lineup around Dirk Nowitzki? Comment and Discuss on twitter with @craines38 and @oth_basketball on who you think I missed!

Who should I build a lineup around next? It can be anyone who has played in the NBA throughout history! Let me know on Twitter as well!

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