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NBA Player Comparison: Kevin Garnett Vs Dirk Nowitzki

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Kevin Garnett Vs Dirk Nowitzki
Kevin Garnett Vs Dirk Nowitzki

When someone thinks of the Power Forward position in the NBA, some of the distinct qualities that come to mind are tough defense, rebounding and post play.

The Power Forwards of old made their money by being proficient in those facets of the game. But ever since the turn of the century, the European style of play has taken over the game. Finesse is preferred to power and post play has almost disappeared from the league as a whole. Big men are now more comfortable with the mid-range game or even perimeter shooting. Gone are the days of trying to make your man back down and finishing strong under the basket.

Two of the greatest Power Forwards of the last two decades are pitted against each other in this article. Both were the Most Valuable Player of the league at one point and both have been NBA Champions. Both are multiple time All-stars. Both are pioneers of the position they play.

Who is the better basketball player?

Kevin Garnett

NBA Finals Game 6: Los Angeles Lakers v Boston Celtics
Kevin Garnett at the 2008 NBA Finals Game 6: Los Angeles Lakers v Boston Celtics

Best season averages: 24.2 PPG, 13.9 RPG, 5 APG, 1.3 SPG, 2.0 BPG

Career averages: 17.9 PPG, 10 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.3 SPG, 1.5 BPG

Kevin Garnett, the former 5th overall pick from the 1995 draft, is a former MVP for the Minnesota Timberwolves and champion with the Boston Celtics. He was drafted straight out of high school and came to the league with a lot of hype and hoopla around him as he was the first player to be drafted out of high school in two decades.

At Minnesota, Garnett became one of the best players in the league, dragging an average Timberwolves team to 8 straight playoff appearances and one Western Conference Final appearance in 2003-04. He won the Most Valuable Player award that year, displaying unimaginable feats of ferocity on both ends of the court. He established himself and the Timberwolves as a threat in the Western Conference.


In 2007, Garnett was surprisingly traded to the Celtics in a deal that shook the league. Him, along with fellow All-Stars Paul Pierce and the recently acquired Ray Allen, formed the first superteam in the NBA. 'The Big 3', as they were called, ruled the eastern conference for a span of 5 years, reaching two NBA finals in the process and winning one of them (both against perennial rivals the Los Angeles Lakers).

In his time with the Celtics, Garnett cemented his place as an all-time great, winning Defensive Player of the Year honors and being the leader of 'The Big 3'. His 20-year career petered out with stints with the Brooklyn Nets and eventually, Garnett retired on the team that drafted him back in 1995. He left the game as the Minnesota Timberwolves' greatest player of all time.

Kevin Garnett's style of play was, for the lack of a better word, intense. One of the best trash-talkers of all time, he would say or do anything on the court to rattle his opponents. Offensively, he was a serviceable big man, with a strong post game, but it was on defense where he won games for his team.

Strong enough to hold down the paint and agile enough to move his feet quickly at the perimeter, Garnett was a nightmare for any match-up. He harassed opponent players with his ability to break through screens and challenge or even block shots. He was a stalwart on defense and one of the greatest of his generation.

Dirk Nowitzki

Phoenix Suns v Dallas Mavericks
German Excellence: Dirk Nowitzki changed the game with his style of play.

Best season averages: 24.5 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 3.4 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.8 BPG

Career averages: 21.2 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 2.6 APG, 0.9 SPG, 0.8 BPG

Dirk Nowitzki will go down in history as the NBA's greatest international player ever. He was drafted 9th in the 1998 NBA draft by the Milwaukee Bucks and was traded to the Dallas Mavericks on draft night.

After two rather forgettable seasons with the Mavericks, Nowitzki exploded into an offensive juggernaut and lead his team to 12 consecutive playoff appearances, collecting a championship and MVP honors along the way. He introduced a style of play that has influenced and changed the way basketball is played today.

Dirk Nowitzki has spent his whole career with the Mavericks. He has been the face of the franchise for more than two decades. He made the Mavericks one of the premier teams in the western conference. Nowitzki's non-athletic body and floppy blonde hair, along with his sweet shooting stroke, made him draw comparisons to Boston Celtics' great Larry Bird. The only difference is that Nowitzki stands at 7 feet tall.

He introduced a European style of play that centered around the mid-range and the 3-point game. He was un-guardable in the post, since he had the ability to take his defender out to the perimeter, where no one was comfortable defending him. His excellent shooting abilities made him a threat to guards and big men alike.

Though not known for his defensive abilities, he still managed to be a serviceable rim protector. Although, he made up for his defensive short-comings by having one of the most dangerous offensive games in the NBA. Nowitzki's patented step-back one-legged jumpshot put some serious fear into defenders and coaches alike. This shot enabled him to be a mismatch almost anywhere on the court. Due to his large size, he could post up smaller defenders and shoot over big men. It was this unmatched offensive game that helped Nowitzki win the MVP award in 2007.

In 2017, Nowitzki scored his 30,000th point in a game against the Los Angeles Lakers. This placed him 6th on the NBA's All-Time Highest Scorers list, a feat that will never be broken by a Dallas Mavericks' player anytime soon.

Dirk took the Mavericks to two NBA finals, winning one of them (both against the Miami Heat). He was also awarded the Most Valuable Player of the Finals in 2011, where he beat the newly formed Miami Heat superteam, that included all-time greats in LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and perennial all-star big man, Chris Bosh. It was during this finals' series, where Dirk was recognized as one of the greatest players of all time.

Still going strong at 40 years old, Nowitzki will enter his 21st season as a Dallas Mavericks player when the 2018-19 season ensues. Having broken almost all the records as a Maverick, Dirk is undoubtedly the greatest Maverick of all time and will go down as the greatest international player to ever play in the NBA.

Two of the greatest players of their generation. Let us know in the comments who do you think is the better player?