It's going to be a bittersweet season for the Dallas Mavericks, as they'll likely wave goodbye to Dirk Nowitzki, who has been the undisputed leader of the Mavs and one of the most productive and popular players in the NBA for nearly the entirety of his lengthy career.

But at the same time they welcome in potential franchise point guard Dennis Smith Jr., the first worthy candidate to replace Dirk as the face of the Mavericks. While giving Nowitzki the admiration and respect he deserves as he rides off into the sunset, it's essential for the Mavericks to groom Smith to take over as the leader next season.

The old man

Nowitzki restructured his contract in the offseason and signed a two-year deal with a team option for next season, but he has stated in the past that that the 2017-18 season, his 20th in the league, would be his last. But here's the thing, Dirk's actually still pretty darn good.

In 54 games last season, Nowitzki averaged 14.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and shot 38 percent from 3-point range -- not bad for a 38-year-old. Now 39, Dirk may not be as dynamic as he was during his unreal title run in 2011, but that shooting stroke isn't going anywhere. He shot 39 percent on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers last year, right in line with his averages over the previous three seasons. And you know he's always good for at least one of his patented fadeaways every game.