Are y'all ready for KristDirkolypse '15?
Monday evening, Knicks rookie sensation Kristaps Porzingis will do battle with Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki -- a.k.a. the greatest European-born player in NBA history. It will be a clash for the ages: Ivan Drago vs. ...um, German Ivan Drago, I guess.
ESPN Dallas' Tim MacMahon talked to Dirk, who had some fine words to say about young Krispy. You're not going to believe this, but Dirk seems to believe all lanky Euro dudes get compared to one another!
"Every tall European now who comes over and can shoot is going to be compared to me, but he looks like he's for real," Nowitzki said. "I mean, he's just 20 years old. He's got a lot of ways to go, but the upside this kid has is just tremendous."
Nowitzki's excitement about Porzingis' potential doesn't necessarily make the comparison accurate. Nowitzki says Porzingis is "tougher and longer than me." The rookie is also more explosive than the big German ever was. Porzingis is a bonfide rim protector and probably has more putback dunks in his first 21 games than Nowitzki has in 17-plus seasons.
"Oh, for sure," Nowitzki said with a laugh. "And nice ones, too -- on guys. He's sneaky athletic."
Kristaps has been so good thus far that it wouldn't make sense to compare rookie seasons, so let's put him up against Dirk's sophomore campaign, via Basketball-Reference:
They draw their value in fairly different ways. Dirk has never recorded rebounding and shot-blocking percentages even close to what Kristaps has put up so far: his highest single-season total rebound percentage is 14.8, his highest single-season block percentage is 2.9. That has never been his game, which is why he has played almost exclusively at power forward -- a position he almost single-handedly redefined during his Hall of Fame career. Kristaps' game is more that of a true center.
Dirk probably hasn't seen that much of Porzingis, but he instinctively knows that which many of us have been saying for a while now: these two dudes play very different styles of basketball. Kristaps probably won't follow the Dirk path, but he's talented and driven enough to wind up at the same destination: Basketball Valhalla.