After injury-riddled ’16-17 season, Dirk Nowitzki has moved up his offseason training schedule

DALLAS — Playing in the fewest games since his rookie season with the Dallas Mavericks after suffering a right Achilles strain early in the 2016-17 campaign, 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki hasn’t wasted time getting back to work this summer.

This season, Nowitzki played in just 54 games and averaged 14.2 points to go along with 6.5 rebounds in 26.4 minutes per outing. He also connected on 43.7 percent from the field and 37.8 percent from three-point range after being forced to sit 25 of the first 30 games of the season due to the Achilles injury. With Nowitzki sidelined, the Mavericks began the grueling 82-game schedule with just a 4-17 record before missing out on the playoffs following a 33-49 season. And although he’s taken a little down time to go on vacation with his family, Nowitzki says he’s already gotten back in the gym to prepare for a bounce-back season.

“I’m just enjoying time with family,” Nowitzki said last week while making an appearance at Mavs Basketball Academy’s hoop camp. “I actually got back from vacation last Monday. I took the kids to the beach, and I had a great time. I got to rest, and other than that I’ve been working out a little bit in the mornings. I go in, do some stuff, light lifting, light conditioning, and I started shooting already a little earlier this year. Other than that, I’m just spending time with the family.”

Concluding his injury-riddled year with 21 points and eight rebounds in 27 minutes during the Mavericks’ second-to-last game on April 11, Nowitzki showed that he still has plenty left in the tank entering the offseason. He’ll now try to pick up where he left off at by using the lengthy summer to his advantage before heading into a 20th season.

Already the NBA’s top foreign-born scorer of all-time, Nowitzki became just the sixth player in league history to reach the 30,000-point plateau for his career this season. In the process, Nowitzki joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387), Karl Malone (36,928), Kobe Bryant (33,643), Michael Jordan (32,292) and Wilt Chamberlain (31,419) in the NBA’s most exclusive club. He also became just the third player in league history to score 30,000 points with one franchise, joining Malone and Bryant on that list. But with the start of the regular season expected to be moved up prior to the beginning of the ’17-18 campaign, Nowitzki admittedly will have work to do this summer in order to be ready when he and his teammates resume play.

“Well, last year, I didn’t do ball stuff for a while. You know, I did my lifts, I did my runs, but this year I started a lot earlier again with shooting and stuff moving around on the court. I started that actually this week when I got back and just some light shooting and light jogging up and down — some movement stuff,” Nowitzki explained. “Just keeping the body used to moving on the court, I guess. That’s what I learned from last summer. Running on the treadmill and all the lifts didn’t quite get me ready for the grind of the season. … Just always keeping active and try to do a little more shooting again than last summer.

“As we know, they moved the season up this year almost a week, so they cut a week away from (training) camp. So, it’s almost like you have to go into camp ready to go. You can’t ease into it like we did the last five or six years. You almost have to get (started) from jump and be ready to go, ’cause three weeks is short and it’s going to fly. And obviously, I want to be ready for Game 1.”

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