Dirk Nowitzki is the 6th leading scorer of all time with 31,187 career points. He is a 13x All-Star, 12x All-NBA, the 2006-2007 League MVP, and 2010-2011 Finals MVP while getting his championship ring. Over his 20 yr career in Dallas, he is the franchise leader in games played, minutes, points, free throws, rebounds, blocks, and player efficiency rating amongst a dozen other franchise records. Off the court he is the heart and soul of this team and a pillar of the Dallas community. Dirk is the greatest athlete the metroplex has ever had and you can’t convince me otherwise. I know all this, so please don’t bite my head off for the headline.
What I’m merely pointing out is that Dirk is playing year to year with the intent on retiring before the end of our 2018 first round draft pick’s rookie contract. With that in mind, I thought it would be interesting to look at the ways the potential draft picks are like Dirk, the ways they differ and impact that they can potentially have on Dirk on the court.
In this 3 part series leading up to draft night, I will look at 3 of the players most closely linked to Mavs and their 5th pick. Most would agree that Deandre Ayton is going #1, Luka Doncic and Marvin Bagley III are set to go with the following 2 picks in some order. That would leave Jaren Jackson Jr. (which you can read here), Michael Porter Jr. and Mohammed Bamba as the most likely picks for the Mavs at 5. So let’s look at ways that each of them can contribute in Dirk-esque ways, ways they are nothing like the greatest player the Mavs have ever seen, and ways that they can impact Dirk directly once they get here.
Michael Porter Jr.
6’10”, 215lb SF/PF – Missouri
Porter Jr. (MPJ) was one of the top 2 players to come out of high school with an offensive upside that had folks comparing him to Kevin Durant. It’s a tall order to be compared to one of best scorers in the game, but it should indicate the kind of upside he has. However, upside is most of what you’ll hear about MPJ because two minutes into his college campaign, he suffered a severe back injury that would last almost the entire year. He came back to play the last two games of the season and showed considerable rust and didn’t look like the player he was scouted to be. Fast forward to last week, the Mavs brass watched Porter Jr. work out and were quoted by dallasbasketball.com saying he looked “extremely impressive” and that they believe him to be a “top-three prospect”. If they find him healthy, they could have the next great scoring threat of the NBA on the Mavs for the foreseeable future.
How is he like Dirk?
Since we have less concrete evidence to look at, we have to say his offensive potential. He could be the go-to scorer the Mavs have needed the past few years which is a mantle Dirk has been looking to hand off since the days of Monta Ellis and Chandler Parsons. He is long and lean, like Dirk, which allows him to shoot his shot over defenders with a smooth, high-arching shot which is difficult to defend. He has some defensive instincts, but not a lock down defender and is often a victim of faster guards. This is one of those times being like Dirk isn’t the highest of praises.
How is he different from Dirk?
Pros: MPJ has an athleticism and quickness to him that makes him a very real lob threat in transition, whereas Dirk jumps 2 inches for a dunk and is known for being the trailing 3 in transition. This makes Porter a great partner for his other potential Mavs teammates JJ Barea and Dennis Smith.
Cons: The question mark of MPJ’s health can’t be overstated. Dirk has been a veritable workhorse for the Mavs playing 1,471 games in 20 years which averages to 73.55 games/yr. IF Porter Jr.’s back is a lingering issue, he will not resemble Dirk on this front. Additionally, one large knock MPJ gets regularly is that he is a volume shooter. Dirk is the Mav’s franchise holder for player efficiency, so Porter Jr. would have to improve in this area to be mentioned in the same conversation with Dirk.
Impact on Dirk
If the Mavs draft Michael Porter Jr., he immediately starts for your Dallas Mavericks and plays alongside Dirk who still starts at the 5. The burden of leading scorer, who is currently Harrison Barnes, would be further alleviated by Porter’s ability to put the ball in the basket. With the addition of Porter Jr.’s speed, you could see the Mavs transition Dirk to playing more and more with the second unit as a scoring threat off the bench with his good buddy JJ Barea so the first unit could be the run and gun flow offense Carlisle wants to run.
Porter is a boom or bust prospect that depends greatly on the Mavs staff to evaluate as to whether or not he is worth the gamble. I seem to remember another guy they took a gamble on with the 11th pick about 20 years back that has turned out alright. Only time will tell.