Now in his 17th NBA season, Dirk Nowitzki knows a thing or two about being an All-Star - he's been named one 12 times after all.
The Mavericks power forward, who has moved into the seventh slot on the NBA career scoring list, is on the bubble this season in terms of making the All-Star team in a stacked Western Conference. One of the players he is competing with for votes is Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins. But Nowitzki, who scored 15 points and grabbed 4 rebounds on Tuesday against the Kings in Sacramento, says Cousins deserves to make his first All-Star Game appearance this season.
"Of course, but in the West you just never know. It's so deep in every position, so there is always a few guys that deserve it and don't make it, but he definitely deserves it," Nowitzki told Sactown Royalty. "He's one of the best centers in the league. He's strong, he's tough, he can score in there. But he can also step out now and he can shoot from 16, 17 feet. I mean, it felt like he didn't miss today from that range. So yeah, he's one of the best offensive players we've got in the league."
Cousins certainly didn't miss much against the Mavericks, shooting 52 percent from the field and getting one assist away from a triple double (32 points, 16 rebounds and 9 assists to go along with 2 steals and 1 block) before fouling out in the last minute of regulation. The Mavericks went on to defeat the Kings, who were also without the services of Rudy Gay due to a left knee lateral joint capsule sprain, 108-104 in overtime. On the season, Cousins is fifth in scoring (24.2 points per game), third in rebounds (12.4 per game) and has 22 double-doubles (tied with Anthony Davis for second most).
As of Jan. 8, Cousins was 8th in All-Star votes for the frontcourt of the Western Conference with 209,742 votes, and Nowitzki was 9th with 186,017 votes. There is a possibility that four of the following frontcourt players will be reserve spots: Tim Duncan (4th, 374,814 votes), Kevin Durant (5th, 330,297 votes), LaMarcus Aldridge (6th, 315,405), Dwight Howard (7th, 211,531 votes), Nowitzki and Cousins. (Pretty safe to say Durant and Aldridge are in.)
Mavericks point guard Rajon Rondo, a four-time NBA All-Star, is a big supporter of Cousins making the All-Star team.
"I don't know what the definition of All-Star is if he doesn't make it. I mean he should be if not the first guy selected by the coaches if he doesn't get in by the fans," Rondo told Sactown Royalty. "They've [the Kings] got the best young player in the game, DeMarcus, he's a beast and he hasn't even reached his potential yet ... he's going to be dominating this game for a long time to come ... He hasn't had any attitude issues this year and he's maturing as a player. He has a lot of pressure on his shoulders, but I think he's handled it as best as possible."
The love for Cousins didn't stop with Nowitzki and Rondo. It sounds like the Mavericks coaches are in his corner too.
Just a hunch, but from what I heard in visitors locker room, Mavs coaches likely to vote for DeMarcus Cousins for All-Star team. Big fans ..— Ailene Voisin (@ailene_voisin) January 14, 2015
As for Cousins himself, after feeling snubbed last season, he seems to be approaching it casually this time around.
"It is what it is. If I make it, I make it, if I don't, I don't," Cousins recently said. "It's out of my hands, honestly. All I can do is control what I can control. If I'm not an All-Star, I'm not an All-Star."
Voting for the All-Star Game ends on Jan. 19 and the lineups will be announced live on TNT on Jan. 22 during TNT NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m. (ET).
Fans can vote here.