Bleacher Report profiles Dirk Nowitzki and the generation of 4s who emulate him

Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Abrams wrote a feature on Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki, taking a very interesting angle: Many fans understand his influence on the power forward position, but how many 4s in the league have taken something from the Big German’s game?

Perhaps most impressively of all, Minnesota’s sensational second-year big man Karl-Anthony Towns intensely studied Dirk’s tape over the All-Star break, looking for anything that could help him develop his outside shot. The thing that stood out more than anything else, in addition to his readiness to shoot, is Nowitzki’s grip on the ball.

“He’s always prepared,” Towns says. “He always takes his one-two step. He’s always generating a lot of power. Like Klay Thompson always takes a hop step, he’s always one-two stepping into the shot, and he’s always driving a lot of force, and he always generates a lot of power, always has his legs under him, and he always holds the ball differently than a lot of people. He spreads his hands out a lot.”

Spurs big man LaMarcus Aldridge, meanwhile, has modeled his game after Nowitzki as he’s grown older.

“Early in my career, I was more trying to be Tim [Duncan], Rasheed [Wallace] and KG [Kevin Garnett],” Aldridge says. “Later in my career, watching Dirk take his game to the next level and watching how he kind of fine-tuned it over time and made it better, that’s when I started to borrow some things, like the one-legged shot and just being OK with taking jump shots.

“Before he went to the Finals and really started to dominate by taking jump shots, it was kind of frowned on for a big to do that. But he kind of showed if you really worked on it and mastered it, you could be dominant by taking jump shots. … As I became less athletic and had to play smarter and use my skill level, I’ve taken even more from Dirk, to last longer and still be at a high level.”

Click here to read the full article. It’s always interesting to see a national take on Nowitzki’s impact and legacy, but it’s even cooler to hear directly from the players at the top of their position today. Dirk changed the NBA, and there’s now an entire generation of players who are who they are because of him.

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