During his 16-year career, Dallas Mavericks superstar Dirk Nowitzki has shared the court with a number of special players. While free agency never yielded the singular star that Cuban wanted to pair with Nowitzki, he has enjoyed playing alongside a number of talented teammates. Let’s take a look at five of the best players that Nowitzki has played with during his remarkable career.
Michael Finley was the clearly the Mavericks’ best player when Dirk Nowitzki joined the team as a rookie during the 1998-99 season. Finley was an athletic shooting guard who excelled at driving to the basket in order to create his shot.
Finley was a two-time All Star who provided a young Nowitzki with a tremendous example of how an NBA star should conduct himself on and off the court. Once Nowitzki became a full-time starter in year two of his career, the Mavericks began to find success leaning heavily on the combination of Nowitzki and Finley.
The duo turned Mavericks’ franchise around, averaging 53 wins a year from the 1999-00 season through the 2004-05 season. Finley allowed Nowitzki to grow into the superstar he became with no jealously or animosity along the way. Finley was instrumental in turning around the Mavericks franchise, and he was the first great player that Nowitzki shared the court with.
4) Steve Nash
Steve Nash joined the Mavericks via trade prior to the beginning of Nowitzki’s 1998-99 rookie season. Nash and Nowitzki both struggled during their first year in Dallas. Nash struggled with injuries during his first two seasons in Dallas, but by year three he was consistently displaying the savvy and skills that would exemplify his stellar career.
From his third season (2000-01) to his final season in Dallas (2003-04) Nash averaged 16 points and eight assists per game. Nash and Nowitzki blossomed into NBA stars and they developed a chemistry that was evident when they shared time on the court. The Mavericks became one of the best offensive teams in the NBA, leading the league in scoring three consecutive seasons during Nash’s tenure in Dallas.
It looked like Nash and Nowitzki would spend their careers carving up opposing defenses together, but it was not to be. Nash joined the Phoenix Suns via free agency in 2004 in a decision Mark Cuban would surely later regret.
Nash went on to win back-to-back NBA MVP awards during his first two seasons in Phoenix. Nash may have had his best years in Phoenix, but watching him develop into an All-Star alongside Nowitzki was a memorable experience for Mavericks fans.
3) Josh Howard
Josh Howard the No. 29 pick in the 2003 NBA draft and he began to pay immediate dividends for the Mavericks. Howard was a versatile small forward who averaged 8.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game during his 2003-04 rookie season. It was clear early on that Dallas had found something in the Wake Forest product.
Howard played a total of seven seasons with the Mavericks, and while he was at his best he was one of the most effective small forwards in the NBA. From the 2006-07 season to the 2008-09 season, Howard averaged 18.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Howard made the NBA All-Star team during the 2006-07 season.
Howard proved to be an effective No. 2 scoring option for Dallas and the duo of Howard and Nowitzki came within two games of winning the NBA championship in 2006. Knee injuries eventually took a toll on Howard’s effectiveness, but he provided Nowitzki with a formidable teammate during his tenure in Dallas.
2) Jason Kidd
Jason Kidd was acquired in a blockbuster trade prior to the 2008 trade deadline. Kidd may not have moved as quickly as he did during his first tenure in Dallas, but he was still an elite passer and apt floor general.
Kidd was acquired to lead the Mavericks offense and provide Nowitzki with better opportunities to score. It is no coincidence that Nowitzki enjoyed his best year shooting while playing alongside Kidd. Nowitzki shot a career-best 51.7 percent from the field during the 2010-11 season.
Like Jason Terry, what Kidd will be remembered for in Dallas are his contributions to the Mavericks 2011 championship team. Despite playing against guards that were younger and faster, Kidd found numerous ways to impact the game in the Mavericks’ favor.
1) Jason Terry
To soften the blow of losing Steve Nash, the Mavericks traded for Atlanta Hawks guard Jason Terry. Terry was more of a shooting guard than a point guard and it took time for the Mavericks and Terry to cement his role on his new team.
Once Terry became comfortable in Dallas, he quickly became a highly effective shooting guard for the Mavericks. From the 2005-06 season to the 2011-12 season Terry averaged 17 points and four assists for the Mavericks.
Terry was a lethal closer on the court with Nowitzki. Anytime the Mavericks needed a clutch shot it was Nowitzki or Terry that would get the ball late. Terry’s most impressive feat came in Game 5 of the 2011 NBA Finals against the Miami Heat. Terry scored 21 points on 8-for-12 shooting and sparked a run that erased a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
Terry hit two crucial three-pointers in the final two minutes to ensure the Mavericks would leave the game victorious. Dallas would clinch their first NBA championship in Game 6 in Miami three days later. Terry transformed himself into one of the NBA’s best sixth men as his career progressed. Terry won the Sixth Man of the Year award for his efforts during the 2008-09 season.