Dirk Nowitzki had some high praise for Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis following their game Monday night.Despite not playing in the Dallas Mavericks’ game against the New York Knicks because of an Achilles injury, Dirk Nowitzki couldn’t help but notice the potential in Kristaps Porzingis.
The Zinger recorded his first double-double of the year against Dallas with a 24-point, 11-rebound performance in the Knicks’ victory. One of his field goals paid homage to the seven-foot German, and Porzingis nailed a one-footed bank shot late in the fourth.
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Yes, Dirk was watching.
“He was staring me down. That was cold-blooded,” said Nowitzki to ESPN’s Ian Begley.
“He’s not only a 7-footer but he is like 7-4 out there with an 8-5 wingspan,” Nowitzki continued. “He’s got an incredible touch. He can move. He can dribble. He can put it on the floor more now. He is going to be a great player in this league for a long, long time.”
That is some high praise from the greatest European player in the NBA’s history.
While Porzingis doesn’t have an 8-5 wingspan (7-6, but who’s counting?), Dirk’s hyperbole reiterates his point.
It’s nearly impossible for anyone to contest the Zinger’s shots and it’s evidenced by his 48.2 clip from the field. Of course, he isn’t just a one-trick unicorn.
Porzingis’ ability to space the floor is what makes him such an unguardable big, and his marksmanship from three-point land is what makes him similar to Dirk. He’s nailing nearly 40 percent of his triples (39.6) this year, and his high release makes it all possible.
“I am a huge fan of his game. Obviously the sky is the limit for him,” said Nowitzki.
As Porzingis matures, his game will broaden. He’ll get stronger as he ages, and he’ll become more of a threat in the post.
His mid-range game will improve, too — if it takes awhile, he’s already nimble enough to take bigs off the dribble from the perimeter and get to the rack.
There are unreasonable expectations for European bigs upon coming into the league; they’re either the next Nowitzki or Darko Milicic, there’s no in between.
For Dirk to come out and say what he said, his comments can’t get overlooked, especially since Porzingis is off to a red-hot start.