The definition of an elite player is murky at best. Do championships defined elite? Do points per game, defensive presence? What does elite mean? The best definition is probably some variation of "the type of player who can change a game." Dirk Nowitzki has been that type of player throughout his career. But how much longer can he be elite?
According to Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas, Nowitzki has his team's owner in his corner. Mark Cuban thinks Nowitzki can be elite for another three year.
"What we're seeing now with Dirk is what we can expect to see next year and the year after, if he stays healthy," Cuban said. "And the year after that."
Not surprisingly, Nowtizki did not immediately agree with Cuban. He simply said he wasn't sure about that estimate. And coming off his first significant injury - knee surgery that caused him to miss much of the first part of the season - how could Nowitzki be certain of his status going forward?
This year, the Mavericks will likely miss the playoffs for the first time in 12 seasons. But that's not because Nowitzki hasn't been playing well. He is averaging 16.4 points and 6.9 rebounds per game this year. That's a significant drop-off from his career numbers. Nowitzki has averaged 22.7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game in his career.