The most recent 7-foot-plus prospect from overseas to invite comparisons to hoops legend and Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki is New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis. But the 7-foot Finland import for Arizona Wildcats, Lauri Markkanen, may have a game even more like Nowitzki’s. (Note: Nowitzki just became only the sixth player in NBA history to score 30,000 points.) And unlike with Porzingis (and Nowitzki before him) Americans are getting a good pre-NBA look at Markkanen in the college ranks.
If Wildcats fans have their way, it’ll be a long look as Arizona has designs on being the Wildcats team left standing at the end of March Madness — instead of the Villanova Wildcats or the Kentucky Wildcats. The Nowitzki comparison is easy to make: it’s based on the pure shooting touch both men bring to the game — the shared height is almost incidental. (Though as any coach will confide: you can’t teach height.) Markkanen averaged 15.6 ppg for Arizona, shooting almost 50% from the floor while collecting seven boards a game. (The rebounding has improved all season — look for him to be a board-beast in the tournament.) Markkanen is Nowitzki-like deadly from 3-point range, too, at 43%.