Nikola Vucevic described as ‘modern-day Dirk Nowitzki’ by Erik Spoelstra
Though they took down the Orlando Magic on Sunday night, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was so impressed with the performance of the Magic’s All-Star center Nikola Vucevic. So much so that called the versatile big man the modern iteration of NBA legend Dirk Nowitzki.
Per Josh Robbins of The Athletic, Spoelstra shared his observations on Vucevic’s rise over the last couple of years. He’s seen him improve from being a reliable center to a two-time All-Star. Comparing him to Nowitzki, who’s considered one of the finest big men to ever play the game, just speaks volumes of how Spoelstra is enamored with the 30-year-old from Montenegro.
In his postgame comments tonight, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra had high praise for Magic All-Star Nikola Vucevic. "It feels like you're looking at the modern-day Dirk Nowitzki," Spoelstra said.
The video: pic.twitter.com/9SQLcfEECU
— Josh Robbins (@JoshuaBRobbins) March 15, 2021
Spoelstra definitely knows what he’s talking about in his praise of Vucevic. He faced Nowitzki and the Mavericks in the NBA Finals twice with the Heat—in 2006 as an assistant coach and in 2011 as top tactician. This was Nowitzki at his very best. Way before the term “stretch 4” was widely used, the pride of Germany had been the pioneer of big men who have a smooth stroke from literally anywhere. It’s easy to imagine Spoelstra and his staff coming up with defensive schemes on how to contain Nowitzki.
Spoelstra may have had flashbacks of those battles against the former MVP on Sunday against the Magic. While he guided his team to a 102-97 victory, Vucevic finished with 38 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists. He shot 15-of-27 from the field, including 6-of-13 from downtown.
Despite the loss, Nikola Vucevic should be proud of his performance as well as Spoelstra’s praises. Lots of big men have come and gone. But no one has ever been compared to Dirk Nowitzki.