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News » McHale schools Dirk Hall of Famer tutors Nowitzki on taking advantage of matchups


McHale schools Dirk Hall of Famer tutors Nowitzki on taking advantage of matchups


McHale schools Dirk Hall of Famer tutors Nowitzki on taking advantage of matchups To see Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin McHale talking is like looking at a history of power forwards in the NBA.

Yes, according to the definition, they play - played, in McHale's case - the same position. But did two people ever go about the same job so differently?

McHale was maybe the greatest low-post scorer in the game during the '80s when he and Larry Bird and the Celtics were winning three titles.

Nowitzki? Well, let's just say he's a member of the group of power forwards who have taken the position farther from the basket.

And yet, Nowitzki has the ability to do some of the same things McHale accomplished in his Hall of Fame career. That's not just a random opinion, it's McHale's. He's been visiting the first week of Mavericks training camp, stressing a strong attitude. But that doesn't mean the fundamentals of low-post play haven't been taught, too.

"He's talented enough that the defensive matchup should dictate where he gets the ball," McHale said of Nowitzki. "If they go big, he gets on the perimeter a little more. If they go small, he gets a little tighter to the basket. You start playing smaller guys closer to the basket, height takes over. And this guy is long."

This is not a grand revelation. But when McHale is the one giving the advice, people tend to listen.

As Rick Carlisle said: "He's an excellent teacher. Hey, if I wanted my 51/2-year old daughter to have piano lessons, I'd go to Fort Worth and knock on Van Cliburn's door if I could get him. This is kind of the same thing."

The sort of beautiful music Carlisle hopes Nowitzki makes this season should be helped by the fact that he's got some extra instruments in the band.

With Shawn Marion on board, the goal of the Mavericks' offense - aside from running whenever possible - is to put defenders in compromising positions. When Josh Howard is healthy, that will give the Mavericks two top-flight cutters on the floor to take pressure off of Nowitzki.

"Yeah, it's going to be a little different," Nowitzki said. "I'm going to adjust to whoever's out there. With Damp [Erick Dampier], I'll be out on the perimeter more. With [Drew] Gooden and [Kris] Humphries, I'll probably be more in the post a little bit."

When he has the ball up top, Nowitzki said that will open things up for some layups, "especially in the fourth quarter when baskets are tougher to come by."

McHale has been stressing low-post fundamentals. But he said the Mavericks are a veteran team with designs on a deep playoff run, so the mental side of the game is critical.

"He talked about the old days and what their mind-set was," Nowitzki said. "I'm trying to pick his brain while he's here. To me, he's probably the greatest low-post player the league has ever seen. He had every move in the book. It's good to have him and hopefully he can bring us to the next level."

McHale knows Nowitzki is not the same kind of power forward he was. Nobody is these days.

"He plays more of the new hybrid power forward, which are a little bit different," McHale said. "He's on the perimeter, but he's got the skills to go inside. He's long and shoots it well. I think that's where the league is.

"For how the game is being played and what he does, he's just tremendous. We talked a little about getting into the post a little more and you don't have to do it all the time. But if you add that to your game that always help you."

Nowitzki, guarded by smaller players often the last few seasons, is looking forward to implementing some of McHale's expertise.

Saturday: After his eye-catching performance at the Fan Jam on Friday night, Shawn Marion has quickly served notice that he's still got the "kitchen-sink" game, where he does a little bit of everything. "And he does it in his sleep," team president Donnie Nelson said Saturday.

Spotlight on Matt Carroll: The 6-6 shooter knocked down several 3-point shots in the Fan Jam and was not hesitant in the slightest to let it go from long range. That's important, Jason Terry said. "I told him he's our John Paxson, our Steve Kerr," Terry said. "He's that guy that if the main guys are double-teamed, we kick it to him and we know it's good. He has to continue to stay aggressive and the main thing for him is to stay confident."

Next up: The Mavericks are off today. They open the preseason Monday night against Orlando at American Airlines Center.

Eddie Sefko

Day in camp

Saturday:After his eye-catching performance at the Fan Jam on Friday night, Shawn Marion has quickly served notice that he's still got the "kitchen-sink" game, where he does a little bit of everything. "And he does it in his sleep," team president Donnie Nelson said Saturday.

Spotlight on Matt Carroll: The 6-6 shooter knocked down several 3-point shots in the Fan Jam and was not hesitant in the slightest to let it go from long range. That's important, Jason Terry said. "I told him he's our John Paxson, our Steve Kerr," Terry said. "He's that guy that if the main guys are double-teamed, we kick it to him and we know it's good. He has to continue to stay aggressive and the main thing for him is to stay confident."

Next up: The Mavericks are off today. They open the preseason Monday night against Orlando at American Airlines Center.

Eddie Sefko


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: October 6, 2009

 

 
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