Commentary

Who's more valuable, LeBron or Dirk?

Both players have dominated the postseason, but who is more indispensable?

Updated: May 31, 2011, 12:27 PM ET
By Kevin Pelton | Basketball Prospectus
LeBron James and Dirk NowitzkiGetty ImagesWhich team needs its star more, the Heat or the Mavericks?

The MVP of the playoffs has obviously been Dirk Nowitzki … unless it's been LeBron James. The two stars have led their respective teams to the NBA Finals with impressive postseason performances. That begs a question as the NBA Finals get set to tip off: Which player is more important to his team?

Overall Performance

Nowitzki's case is built around the fact that he has been the league's best scorer in the playoffs. Most go-to players see their efficiency decline as defenses load up against them, but Nowitzki has actually improved his true shooting percentage from .612 to .640 while playing a larger role in the Dallas Mavericks' offense. No one else can come close to touching Nowitzki's combination of ability to create shots and knock them down during the postseason. The league's other leaders in usage rate, James included, have been far less efficient than Nowitzki.