As we continue our evaluation of Dirk Nowitzki’s rank among the NBA’s greatest Power Forwards ever, we compare him to the Timberwolves’ Kevin Garnett.
Dirk Nowitzki has led the Dallas Mavericks year after year since 1998, and along the way has amassed great respect across the NBA and sports world. While his status as a Hall of Famer and all-time great isn’t disputed, his exact spot among his peers is up in the air. Here we will compare him to another legendary Power Forward who is still active in the NBA, Kevin Garnett.
Seasons Played 18 21
Playoffs 15 14
All-star Games 13 15
MVP 1 1
Finals MVP 1 0
All-NBA Teams 12 9
All-Defensive Teams 0 12
Rebounds Leader 0 1
Defensive Player of the Year 0 1
Total Points 29,491 26,071
Total Rebounds 10,541 14,662
Total Assists 3,414 5,445
Total Steals 1,128 1,859
Total Blocks 1,180 2,037
FG % 47 47
3-Point % 38 28
FT % 87 79
NBA Titles 1 1
Stats from LandofBasketball.com
The Case for Garnett
Kevin Garnett has had an illustrious career, most of which was spent with the Minnesota Timberwolves, but he had his most successful years with the Boston Celtics where he won an NBA title. Garnett is a jack-of-all-trades player, capable of doing anything that could be asked of a Power Forward. However, his most notable skill in which he cements himself as a Hall of Famer is his tough, physical defense. He won DPOY in 2007-2008 and has been 1st NBA All-Defensive team 9 times.
While he will be remembered by most as a Timberwolf, his most successful time in the NBA was with the Boston Celtics. In 2007 he joined Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, and Paul Pierce in Boston. The following year in 2008 Garnett won his first and only NBA Championship.
While KG does have three more seasons under his belt, he leads Nowitzki in rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. The Big German is obviously the superior scorer, but Garnett’s defense and all around play presents a tough case to be the better overall player.
The Case for Nowitzki
Dallas fans are all too aware of just how much Dirk has done for not only the Mavs organization, but for the game of basketball itself. In 18 seasons Nowitzki has led the Mavericks to the postseason 15 times, all the while being the focus and rock of those teams even in his most recent years.
He is 6th on the all-time scoring list, and very well may be 5th by the time he retires. He is the greatest big-man shooter of all time and helped usher in the era of stretch 4’s. He is also the creator of his signature move, the one-leg-fadeaway. This move may be the toughest to guard in NBA history, second only to Kareem’s sky hook.
Nowitzki is widely known for being a clutch performer, thriving in fourth quarters, playoffs, and any other time when you really needed him to come through. This is evident in his incredible 2011 campaign in which he led an overachieving Dallas team to beat Lebron led Miami Heat and won finals MVP. This is the only Championship in Mavericks history.
The best argument in Dirk’s favor is that he was able to win a championship while still being the sole leader of the team, and staying with his first organization. While it doesn’t necessarily diminish the value of Garnett’s championship, KG had to leave to a more talented team to help carry him to a title, and accordingly he didn’t win finals MVP.
The Dirk vs KG comparison is interesting because they played during a similar time period, and therefore can be evaluated more precisely. They both are most likely the best players to ever represent their organizations and have been a beacon of light to Minnesota and Dallas fans. So, who do you think is the better all-time great?