NBA’s Best European Big Man: Pau Gasol Or Dirk Nowitzki

Plenty of big men in basketball make their journey from the European leagues to the NBA.  In history, only several have reached All-Star and even superstar recognition in the NBA.  Out of these players, the NBA has had the pleasure of having Pau Gasol and Dirk Nowitzki for the past decade.

Both big men are in their early 30s and still in their prime.  Their level of productivity on the court both in the NBA and internationally has elevated their basketball status to icons worldwide.  It goes without saying that they are the best European players to have ever played the game at the power forward/center position.

But which player can be recognized as the best European big man?  Here are a few facts that might make that decision somewhat easier.

Dirk Nowitzki entered the league in 1998 and has played for the Dallas Mavericks ever since.  Pau Gasol, who is two years younger, entered the league at the same age in 2000 and has since then split his time with the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Lakers.

As rookies, Gasol had a much easier time adjusting to the NBA level of play.  As a more traditional power forward, Gasol was able to dominate the paint in his rookie year, taking home Rookie of the Year honors.  On the other hand, Nowitzki had a difficult rookie season, but quickly blossomed into a lethal scorer during his sophomore campaign.

After solidifying their level of play, both men took over their respective teams as the best player.  Starting with his third year, Nowitzki has led his team to 10 straight 50 or more win seasons and playoff appearances.  Also in his third year, Pau Gasol held his own by leading the Memphis Grizzlies to three straight playoff appearances and one 50-win season.

As Dirk Nowitzki gained more experience on the NBA court, and Dallas started building a solid team around him, the success of the Mavericks started climbing....

About the Author