Dirk Nowitzki's performance in the 2011 NBA playoffs has been nothing short of remarkable. However, before we delve into unbridled praise, it's both informative and fun to recognize some areas in which his widely celebrated playoff performance isn't very close to historical records.
In terms of overall per-minute efficiency (as measured by the player efficiency rating, which incorporates both offensive and defensive metrics), dating back to 1976, Nowitzki's performance so far in the 2011 postseason puts him in the top 50 of players who played at least eight games in a given playoffs and averaged at least 25 minutes a game. That result puts him in the company of many all-time greats, but he's far from No. 1, a distinction held by LeBron James (2009). In fact, Dirk's PER in this year's playoffs is lower than it was in his 2009 postseason, although not by much.
Nor has Nowitzki been the best playoff scorer we've ever seen. Depending on your cutoff for minimum games played during a single postseason, that honor belongs to Jerry West in 1965 (40.6 points/game), Elgin Baylor in 1962 (38.6), or one of the various vintages of Michael Jordan.
Still, Nowitzki has been extremely efficient on the offensive end, while shouldering a disproportionately large share of the Mavericks' offensive burden. And by those metrics, he's absolutely crushing it.