NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — On the night that Kristaps Porzingis was selected fourth overall by the Knicks in the 2015 NBA draft, comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki began.
Those comparisons only heated up when Porzingis took the floor and began exceeding all expectations.READ MORE: New York AG: Trump Organization Misled Banks And Tax Officials
Putting Porzingis in the same class as Nowitzki is obviously premature. The former is a 20-year-old rookie, and the latter is a 13-time All-Star, MVP and future Hall of Famer.
But both players are athletic, 7-foot Europeans who can shoot. Might Porzingis be the next Nowitzki?READ MORE: Gas Eyed As Cause Of House Explosion That Killed 1 Woman, Injured 8 Others In The Bronx
“It’s more than fair,” Nowitzki said in regard to comparisons to Porzingis, according to ESPN.com. “He’s probably way ahead of the curve. When I was 20, I was scared to death out there … He’s almost averaging a double-double, so he’s way better than I was at 20. So the comparison’s probably unfair to me.”
Nowitzki and Porzingis squared off for the first time on Monday night in the Mavericks’ 104-97 win over the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Both players lived up to the billing. Nowitzki scored 25 points and brought down six rebounds, while Porzingis dropped 28 and recorded two rebounds, an assist, a steal and two blocks.
“He’s for real,” Nowitzki said, according to the website. “We’ve said it before. He’s tougher than you think. He’s long. He’s athletic. He can put the ball on the floor … The sky’s the limit for this kid, not only because he’s good but also because I heard he lives and breathes basketball. He stays in the gym, he works hard and doesn’t let all this hype here get to his head. You’ve (got) to root for him.”MORE NEWS: NYPD Officer Released From Hospital After Being Shot In The Bronx
In the first 22 games of his career, Porzingis is averaging 14.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in 28.0 minutes per game.