This 2018-2019 season has been a blast so far for Mavericks fans. We get to watch the greatest Maverick of all time play with the best prospect the Mavs have ever had. With the long time greatness of Dirk Nowitzki and the meteoric rise to stardom of Luka Dončić, it is easy to forget some of the other great players that have worn Dallas across their chest in the 39 years the franchise has been in existence.
This article will look at the top 10 individual seasons by a Dallas Maverick for the entire history of the team. In this rankings, each player can only appear once to prevent it from simply being a year by year recap of Dirk’s prime (which would still be awesome). This also gives us the difficult task of choosing which season of Dirk’s was his greatest.
This article is based entirely on regular season performance and does not take playoff performance or team success into account. This is purely a look at the best statistical seasons every put together by a Dallas Maverick. Without further ado, here are the top 10 seasons by a Dallas Maverick of all time.
10. Luka Dončić, PG/PF, 2018-2019
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He may only be 33 games into his rookie season but I am ready to dub this one of the top individual Maverick seasons of all time. Luka Dončić was incredibly hyped coming out of EuroLeague as the best European prospect ever. To add to the pressure, the Dallas Mavericks traded a first round pick to move up in the draft to select Luka as the heir to the Mavericks franchise while Dirk Nowitzki winds down his career. Fortunately for Dallas Mavericks fans, pressure makes Luka Dončić even better. Already, in his short time in the NBA, Luka has proved to be one of the most clutch players in the entire league with his unstoppable step back jumper. Not only has he revitalized the Mavericks on the court but he has brought a new energy to the franchise off the court. Everyone is buzzing about the Slovenian Sensation, Luka Dončić, the arena is packed every night, and all the fans that went into hiding during the tank years are now back in force.
The reason I am comfortable placing this as one of the best seasons for a Maverick is because Luka is getting better every game. His number are already historic for a teenage rookie, but by the end of the year who knows what his numbers will be or what he will have accomplished.
9. Jamal Mashburn, SF, 1994-95
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Jamal Mashburn joined the Dallas Mavericks in 1993 when they drafted him #4 overall out of Kentucky. Mashburn had a great rookie year averaging nearly 20 ppg, but he really flourished in year two alongside rookie point guard Jason Kidd. Nicknamed Monster Mash, Jamal had some monster games in the ’94-’95 season. As a 6’8″ Small Forward with guard-like skills, Mashburn was a handful for opposing defenses. He was aggressive getting to the hoop and was not afraid to let it fly from deep. He was not the most efficient scorer in the ’94-’95 season but there have not been many Mavericks to average 24 ppg.
Mashburn only spent another season and a half with the Mavericks after this season. After averaging just 10 points in 27 minutes per game over the first 37 games of the ’96-’97 season, he was traded to the Miami Heat for Sasha Danilovic, Martin Muursepp and Kurt Thomas. Mashburn’s years with the Heat were statistically a low point for him until he revitalized his career with the Charlotte Hornets in 2001, eventually becoming an All-Star in his second to last season in 2002-2003 at age 30.
8. Jason Kidd, PG, 1995-96
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The Dallas Mavericks selected Jason Kidd out of Cal with the #2 overall pick in the 1994 draft (the Bucks took Glenn Robinson #1). Kidd was impressive in his first season with the Mavs, earning co rookie of the year honors with Grant Hill.
Of course Jason Kidd was a key contributor the Mavericks Championship season in 2010-2011, but it was his second year, at age 22, where Kidd had his best statistical season as a member of the Mavericks. Even in his second year, as you can see from his top 5 games that season, he was already a triple double threat every night. When he combines those great rebounding and assist numbers with an efficient shooting night, there are few that have ever run the point guard position better than Jason Kidd. He can completely control the tempo of the game offensively and be a terror to opposing guards defensively. What prevented Kidd from being higher on this list were his shooting percentages, which were pretty bad early in his career. Seeing how Kidd shot less than 70% on free throws in his first few years to then transforming into an 87% free shooter in 2011 with the Mavericks gives me hope that current Mavs point guard Dennis Smith Jr can improve his shooting as well.
Kidd’s first stint with the Mavericks did not last very long, less than 2 and a half seasons, before he was traded with Tony Dumas and Loren Meyer to the Phoenix Suns for Sam Cassell, Michael Finley, A.C. Green and a 1998 2nd round draft pick (Greg Buckner was later selected). Jason Kidd and Steve Nash are the #2 and #3 all-time NBA assists leaders, both were on the Mavericks in the early stages of their careers but neither was with the team during their prime. We continually talk about how Dirk Nowitzki never had another great player to play with during his prime, having either of these point guards alongside Dirk for the long run would have certainly changed that narrative.
7. Steve Nash, PG, 2001-02
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The Mavs first acquired Nash through a trade with the Phoenix Suns who drafted him as the 15th pick in the 1996 draft. In June of 1998 Phoenix traded by Nash to the Dallas Mavericks for Pat Garrity, Martin Muursepp, Bubba Wells and a 1999 1st round draft pick (Shawn Marion was later selected 9th overall). After winning that trade and acquiring one of the best point guards of all time for basically a #9 pick, the Mavs blew it by allowing Nash to walk in free agency in 2004. The Dallas Mavericks may not have had Steve Nash for his prime, which included 2 MVPs, but he still had some great years with the franchise.
The ’01-02′ season was Steve Nash’s fourth year with the Dallas Mavericks and his first year being named an NBA All-Star. He played and started all 82 games that season and helped the Mavs to a 57-25 finish and a first round victory over Kevin Garnett, Chauncey Billups and the Minnesota Timberwolves. What set this season apart from the others that Nash had in Dallas was his 45% 3-point shooting throughout the ’01-’02 season, coming ever so close to joining the 50/40/90 club. Mark Cuban is open about the fact that he regrets not holding on to Steve Nash in free-agency in 2004, and I think all Mavs fans will tell you the same.
6. Derek Harper, PG, 1989-1990
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Young Mavs fans know Derek Harper as the TV broadcaster on Fox Sports Southwest but let’s not forget, there is a reason why this man’s jersey is in the rafters. The Mavericks drafted Harper with the 11th pick in the 1983 NBA draft but it took several seasons for him to become the everyday starter for the team, early in his career he played backup for Mavericks great and now Mavs radio broadcaster Brad Davis.
Once he came into his own Derek Harper became everything you would want in a point guard. In the 1989-1990 season, Harper put together an all-around great year that was one of the best ever put forth by a Maverick. Not only did he get it done on the offensive end with his 18 points and 7 assists but he did so efficiently. He was productive driving to the hoop and was a great 3 point shooter, knocking down 37% of his 3 attempts per game. Not only that, Harper was also a force on the defensive end where averaged 2.3 steals per game, good enough for 5 in the NBA that year. The Mavericks went 47-35 that season but were swept in the first round of the playoffs by Clyde Drexler and the Portland Trail Blazers.
5. Jim Jackson, SG, 1994-1995
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Only Dirk Nowitzki and Mark Aguirre have averaged more points per game in a season by a Maverick than the 25.7 Jim Jackson averaged in the ’94-’95 season. Jackson was a scoring machine that season which was his 3rd in the league after being drafted #4 overall by the Mavs in 1992.
It was an exciting time to be a Dallas Mavericks fan. Rookie point guard Jason Kidd was a master with the basketball and you had Jamal Mashurn and Jim Jackson going off on a nightly basis. Mashburn had a 50 point outburst on November 11 and just 5 days later, on November 16, Jim Jackson matched it with his own 50 point performance. The team was finally winning some games after earning only 11 and 13 wins the previous two years. Everything seemed to be turning in the right direction as they finished 36-46, just two spots out of the playoff picture. Kidd was just 21 years old, Mashburn 22, and Jackson 24, it looked like the Mavs had a trio of stars to build around for the next decade. Unfortunately these 3 never flourished in Dallas but were constantly at odds with each other. Although it seemed like there were plenty of shots to go around as Jackson and Mashburn both had the best statistical season of their career’s in ’94-’95, apparently they each wanted the ball more and could not make it work. Eventually the whole situation led to none of the three being on the team by 1997 and Dallas going in a new direction, building around 7-foot German Power Forward, Dirk Nowitzki. For a more detailed account of what happened between Jason, Jackson, and Jamal check out this youtube video that outlines the beef nicely.
4. Rolando Blackman, SG, 1983-1984
Rolando Blackman may not have had the flashy point total of Jim Jackson or assist numbers like Jason Kidd, but Blackman had one of the most efficient scoring seasons of all time. Blackman is literally the only guard in the history of the NBA to score 22 points on 55% shooting from the field. He did not even think about 3 pointers, taking 0.1 per game in ’83-’84, Ro would just get to his spot and take his shot and it would go in. Just look at the efficiency of his top games that season, 37 points on 17 shots, that is just ridiculous!
The Mavericks went 42-40 in the ’83-’84 season and eventually lost in the Western Conference Semifinals to Kareem, Magic, and the Lakers. This video is from the 1986 playoffs, not the 1984 season we are talking about, but you get the idea, Rolando Blackman was good.
Great video here of Rolando Blackman yelling “Confidence” as he strokes game tying free-throws in the 1987 All-Star game.
3. Michael Finley, SF, 1999-2000
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This was Michael Finley’s 4th year in Dallas after being traded from Phoenix as part of the Jason Kidd deal in December of 1996. This was his first year as an All-Star and for good reason, Finley did it all in ’99-’00. The only other players in league history to average Finley’s combination of points, rebounds, and assists per game while shooting 40% from 3 point range are: LeBron James in ’12-’13, Kevin Durant in ’17-’18, and Larry Bird in ’84-’85, ’85-’86, and ’87-’88. Finley was a high flyer who loved to attack the rim and dunk but also had the sweet jump shot to stretch the floor and keep defenders completely off balance.
Finley spent 9 years with the Mavericks, but eventually joined the San Antonio Spurs in 2005. Michael Finley did end up winning a Championship in 2007 and I am happy for him, I just wish it didn’t have to be as a member of the rival San Antonio Spurs.
2. Mark Aguirre, SF, 1983-1984
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In the same season Rolando Blackman put up the 4th best season by a Dallas Maverick, teammate Mark Aguirre had the highest scoring average in the history of the Mavericks franchise. Aguirre was a 6’6″ Small Forward who did most of his scoring damage in the post.
In the 1981 NBA Draft, the Dallas Mavericks had the #1 and the #9 overall pick. With the first pick int he draft they took Mark Aguirre out of DePaul University, passing on the point guard out of Indiana, Isaiah Thomas, who went #2 to Detroit. With the #9 pick the Mavericks selected Rolando Blackman out of Kansas State. These two were a potent combination and had some great years with the Mavericks but they could never get past the Lakers loaded up with Magic and Kareem. Aguirre himself would overcome the Lakers as he was traded to the Detroit Pistons for Adrian Dantley and a 1991 1st round draft pick (LaBradford Smith was later selected). Together, Aguirre and Thomas and the rest of the Pistons were able to overcome the Lakers in the 1989 finals. The pair would go back the next year and win it again in 1990 over the Portland Trail Blazers who actually knocked Rolando Blackman, Derek Harper, and the Mavericks out of the playoffs in the first round that year.
1. Dirk Nowitzki, PF, 2004-2005
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Mark Aguirre gave him a run for his money but of course it is Dirk Nowitzki with the best season ever as a Dallas Maverick. I was expecting Dirk’s best year to be his MVP campaign in 2006-2007 but a closer look at the numbers shows the 2004-2005 season was his best statistically. If we were taking playoffs into account then clearly the 2011 season would trump any other year as he carried the Dallas Mavericks to the promise land that and fulfilled the hopes and dreams of Mavs fans everywhere.
The ’04-’05 season was Dirk’s 2nd highest scoring average (slightly less than the ’05-’06 season), 3rd highest rebound average, 3rd highest assists average, 2nd highest steals average, and highest block average of his career. I went with the higher point, assists, block, and steal numbers rather than going for one of his more efficient scoring seasons. With 1.2 steals per game and 1.5 blocks per game to go with 9.7 rebounds, Dirk was actually a pretty impactful defender in this season. There have only ever been 2 players to average 26 ppg while blocking 1.5 shots per game and making more than 1 three pointer per game: (Joel Embiid is on pace to do it this season)
I could have easily put in the qualifier of 9 rebounds per game and then Dirk would in a class of his own. The NBA has never seen the combination of size, scoring, and long range shooting as we saw from Nowitzki in the ’04-’05 season.
If we were talking most efficient season, that would be his ’07 MVP season where he joined the extremely rare 50% field goal, 40% three pointers, 90% free throw club. At the time he accomplished the 50/40/90 task he was only the second player to ever do so while averaging at least 20 ppg, the other being Larry Bird who did it in 1987 and 1988. Since then, Steph Curry and Kevin Durant are the only others to join the club.
Now watch the video and enjoy the show…