As the only two seven-footers to ever even remotely do what they’re renowned for, Durant is now rumored to be incorporating the strengths and virtues of his predecessor into his game, all with the aim of ultimately raising it to the next level.
At no point in his 16-year career has Nowitzki had the speed, agility, or athleticism of Durant, but game recognizes game and, in the face of that reality, the NBA’s top scorer and leading MVP candidate readily admits he still has much to master.
Turns out since late last year, Durant has been working with Adam Harrington, a former Nowitzki teammate with the Dallas Mavericks, learning from him all he can about the Hall of Fame-bound forward’s habits and routines. ESPN reports practice shots with both hands and off both feet, attempted from all angles and distances, are now a part of Durant’s regular routine. In KD’s world, mastering his footwork, maintaining his balance, and keeping his rhythm have become as important as swishing the shots themselves.
“It’s a lot more than just trying to copy the one-legger,” Durant told ESPN of Nowitzki’s most famous shot. “Dirk’s got a lot of moves I’m trying to steal. I don’t know him so well, but I’ve always liked the way he goes about his business. And I’ve learned a lot from him by just studying the techniques.”
It all seems to be working wonders for Durant, who even LeBron James recently pronounced as his overwhelming choice for league MVP. And it all makes for interesting times for the NBA, particularly given if the upcoming playoffs started today Durant’s Thunder would be pitted against Nowitzki’s Mavs in a do-or-die battle.
No matter what, it seems Durant will always have respect for the man whom he at least partly patterns his game after.
“It’s probably a tie between him and Kobe,” Durant told ESPN of his favorite NBA player.