Every year, there are one or more "next Dirk Nowitzkis" in the NBA Draft. This is because we are completely uncreative and can only compare tall European shooters to other tall European shooters, and because we can't think of any other good tall European shooters but Nowitzki, although there are plenty. (Who is the next Zarko Cabarkapa?!) Given that Dirk Nowitzki is now an NBA champion and an NBA Finals MVP, the comparisons will reach fever pitch.
But there's only one Dirk Nowitzki, so there can only be one next Dirk Nowitzki. That is a rule I just made up, right now. Let's find the real next Dirk Nowitzki using only prospects from the 2011 NBA Draft!
Bertans is from Latvia, which is not Germany, so there is one strike, buddy. Latvia is in Europe and Bertans is blond, so we are back on track. Davis Bertans as the "next Dirk Nowitzki" is looking good. Now, the most important question after the questions we just asked: can Bertans shoot? He can! I think we may have a ...
Oh, there's another contender? Oh. Hello Mr. Mirotic, a 6'10 Montenegran who starred for Real Madrid this season as a 20-year-old power forward. Pleased to meet you. Are you the next Dirk Nowitzki? You averaged a point for every two minutes in ACB play, shot 43 percent on three-pointers and shot up draft boards? Bully for you! You may indeed be the next ...
Another contender! This Lithuanian, a 7-footer who plays for former Next Dirk Nowitzki Andrea Bargnani's old team Benetton Treviso, actually draws a fair number of Spencer Hawes comparisons, mostly for me, because I do not wish my favorite team to re-draft Spencer Hawes a year after trading him away. But cleanliness to next to godliness, and Dirk Nowitzki is next to cleanliness, and Spencer Hawes is a nautical mile from Dirk Nowitzki, then Donatas Motiejunas could very well be next to godliness, if by next to you mean "pretty far away from."
I don't know how to put this, Jon Leuer, but you were born in Minnesota. You are not eligible to be the next Dirk Nowitzki. Oh, you're a great candidate for Next Dirk Nowitzki, but unfortunately, under current rules, you aren't eligible. I'm sorry. Better luck with your run for Next Jason Smith.
(Speaking of whom ...)
No, Jason Smith is not draft-eligible, on account of having been drafted years ago. But if pro basketball bible Bleacher Report says Jason Smith could be the next Dirk Nowitzki, by golly I'm not ignoring that!
Maybe this is a fool's errand; maybe the next Dirk Nowitzki is already in the NBA and we're wasting our time scouring Europe and the University of Wisconsin for the next Dirk Nowitzki. Heck, maybe Dirk Nowitzki is the next Dirk Nowitzki. Maybe there is only one Dirk Nowitzki. Maybe there are none. Maybe we will never know.