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Analytics Across Ages Pt. 3: Durant vs. Dirk

“When I was 13.  Sorry I’m making Dirk seem a little bit old, but that’s when I started focusing on Dirk, and he became one of my favorite players to ever play this game.”

Kevin Durant, on when he started to emulate Dirk Nowitzki’s signature fadeaway

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Click here to read part 1:

Click here to read part 2:

 

Career Averages Per 100 Possessions in the Regular Season

Points Ass. RB Steals TO TS% PER WS VORP BPM
KD 36.9 5.0 9.5 1.6 4.4 .605 25.0 11.98 4.63 4.8
Dirk 32.5 3.8 11.6 1.2 2.6 .580 23.0 11.04 3.65 3.5

 

Career Averages Per 100 Possessions in the Postseason

Points Ass. RB Steals TO TS% PER WS VORP BPM
KD 35.8 4.6 10.0 1.4 4.2 .575 23.6 N/A N/A 4.8
Dirk 32.8 3.2 12.9 1.2 3.6 .577 23.8 N/A N/A 4.0

 

Dirk Nowitzki: 13 time All Star, MVP in 200, and NBA champion in 2011, a championship won over LeBron James (or, rather, the lack of his presence) and the Miami Heat.  He’s done it all and seen it all.  He set the stage for all stretch power forwards, and is a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer.

Compared to Kevin Durant, himself a 7x All Star with an MVP in his trophy case from the 2014 season, Dirk is almost a generation ahead.  However, the resemblance of their stats are so striking that it’s hard not to compare the two power forwards, both of whom can stretch the floor, and both of whom can put the ball on the floor and drive to the hoop.

In the regular season, Kevin Durant, has the advantage in every single stat except for rebounds (Dirk has a 2.1 advantage over him) and turnovers (Dirk averages 1.8 less).  Even in Box Plus/Minus, Kevin Durant is way ahead of Dirk with 1.3 more BPM.

In the postseason, Durant and Nowitzki’s statline is a little bit more in Dirk’s favor. Even though Durant averages 3 more points, 1.4 more assists, with almost the same exact true shooting percentage and PER as Dirk, Nowitzki has thus far averaged 2.9 rebounds and .6 less turnovers than Durant throughout the course of his career.  BPM wise, Durant still has the advantage in the postseason of around .8

Some may say, “Dirk is well out of his prime; why would you compare him to Kevin Durant, who obviously hasn’t had down years like Dirk?”  Kevin Durant is 27. If he stays in the league for at least another 6-8 years, he’ll add even more trophies and accomplishments to his resume.

Just for kicks and giggles, here’s a game from 5 years ago where Durant and Nowitzki both dropped exactly 40.

Comparing these two stars now, it proves that Kevin Durant is truly a Hall of Fame talent that’s only just in the middle of his prime.

Final Thoughts:

NBA seasons will come and go. New champions will be crowned.  Stars will take bloom in the league. More points will be scored, and more stat books will be filled.

As the common fan learns more about the game of basketball, I hope they can take into light the relationship between understanding the statistical breakdown of the game from the eye test. There is always a use for stats, and that is to back up watching the game itself.

When basketball fans, as they always will, bicker and argue over who is the better player, the idea of metrics through Per 100 Possessions is always a tool available to use to decipher the answer to that question.

Still, stats, metrics, analytics – whatever you call them – tell only half the story; but that half of the story is necessary for any fan of the game who wants to learn and love basketball, and understand it, a little bit more.

By Austin Hutchinson