NBA Season Restart 2019-20

Mavericks clinch first playoff spot without Dirk since 1990

Due to Memphis’ Sunday loss to San Antonio, Dallas is back in the playoffs for the first time since 2016. Back then, Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki was still leading the team in scoring, and the franchise’s lone championship banner was just five years old.

Returning to the postseason without Nowitzki will seem even stranger. The Mavericks haven’t done that since 1990, their final appearance before a 10-year drought that ended in Nowitzki’s third season (2000-01)

That 30-year gap between Dirk-less playoff teams in Dallas spans an incredible margin of NBA history. Back then, the Mavericks were led by All-Star guard Rolando Blackman and franchise icon Derek Harper. They were swept in the first round by a Finals-bound Portland team headlined by Clyde Drexler. Thirty years later, Harper and Drexler are highly regarded local television analysts (Harper for Dallas, Drexler for the Houston Rockets).

That year’s Blazers team also boasted Croatian rookie Drazen Petrovic, who would eventually become the NBA’s first European player to make an All-NBA team (1992-93). Fast forward to today, when the Mavericks are led by Slovenian-born All-Star and likely All-NBA honoree Luka Doncic.

Mavs In Playoffs Without Dirk

1990 2020
Win % .573 .588
Scoring leader Rolando Blackman (19.4) Luka Doncic (28.7)
Rebounds leader Ron Tarpley (13.1) Kristaps Porzingis (9.6)
Assists leader Derek Harper (7.4) Luka Doncic (8.7)
Offensive rating 107.2 (18th) 116.8 (1st)
Defensive rating 107.2 (9th) 110.9 (17th)
Playoff outcome 3-0 L vs. POR, 1st round ???