Kevin Durant and Dirk Nowitzki have very different games. But there are enough physical similarities that Durant sees the benefits in learning from a 16-year veteran who’s won a league MVP and a title, and is almost certainly locked up Hall of Fame enshrinement.
Durant has more speed and agility than perhaps Nowitzki ever did, while Dirk is a master at using his size to his scoring advantage.
They’re the only two seven-footers in history with the ability to shoot so proficiently from the outside, which makes Durant’s decision to study Nowitzki not that much of a surprise.
From Marc Stein of ESPN.com:
It hasn’t been discussed much, because Durant doesn’t often reveal much beyond what we can all see out on the floor, but he recently confessed that he’s been swiping liberally all season from the Dirk Nowitzki playbook.
Turns out that, since November, Durant has been working with Adam Harrington as his personal trainer beyond his daily duties with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Which is the same Adam Harrington who briefly played alongside Nowitzki with the Dallas Mavericks more than a decade ago and has been studying the unorthodox coaching techniques hatched by Nowitzki’s longtime mentor and shot doctor from back home, Holger Geschwindner, ever since.
“It’s a lot more than just trying to copy the one-legger,” Durant said, explaining that he’s not merely focused on trying to mimic Nowitzki’s signature shot.
“Dirk’s got a lot of moves I’m trying to steal.”
Durant also says in the piece that Nowitzki and Kobe Bryant are tied for the honor of being his favorite player in the league.
The greatest players in the game of course have an undeniable genetic advantage, but the ones who truly rise to the top also work at it tirelessly. Durant putting in extra sessions with a coach trained by Nowitzki’s famed shot doctor is a great example of that, as he wraps up what most believe will be his first MVP season.