Jeff Caplan's story about Dirk's struggles thus far focuses on something that is obvious if you've watched him play this season.
Jeff talks about how Dirk's performance has mirrored his playoff struggles against the Warriors, and he couldn't be more right. In fact, Dirk has actually been worse than he was in the first round last year. Through six games, Dirk's efficiency rating is a point lower than it was during first round of the playoffs last year. In fact, Dirk's numbers on the whole in his last 12 games (counting the playoffs) are almost as low as they were in his second year in the league when he was still hoisting three pointers en masse and sporting the old blue and green.
Despite how much detractors would like to blame his poor play this season on a five-month hangover from the playoffs, Dirk is traditionally a slow starter--at least through the first six games. In fact, his production through the first six games of each season over his entire career (excluding his rookie year) is 7.3 percent lower than his production for the whole season. Only in 2004 and 2006 has Dirk's production through the first six games exceeded his overall season production.
Given, Dirk has played badly thus far. Shooting 43 percent from the floor looks more like 2000 Dirk than what you've come to expect from 2007 Dirk. But you can expect him to bounce back and start playing like a reigning MVP is supposed to.
Also, it should be noted that Dirk's overall numbers this year put him at 25th in the NBA. It goes to show that Dirk at his worst is still better than almost 95 percent on the other players in the league.
-Scooter Hendon, Hoops Nerd