It's not necessarily fair, but we expect our 7-footers to do certain things in the NBA, primarily block shots and get rebounds. But some of our 7-footers over the years are so, so bad at those things. We'll address the rebounders on Thursday; for now, let's talk about George Zidek.
A national champion for Jim Harrick's UCLA Bruins in 1995, Zidek was a late first-round pick that year and lasted three seasons in the league. The Czech-born 7-footer had a successful European career after falling out of the NBA, even winning a Euroleague title with UCLA teammate Tyus Edney. But in the NBA? No, he was not very good. Especially at blocking shots.
In fact, among all players listed at 7-foot or above who played at least 1,000 career minutes, he has the low block rate in history: 0.7 percent. That means he picked up a block on only 0.7 percent of opponents' shots.
Zidek played in 71 contests as a rookie for Charlotte, averaging 12.5 minutes a game for 888 total minutes. He had seven blocks all season long. NBA players had seven or more blocks in a game 20 times last season alone; the Mavericks' 6'10 Bernard James pulled that off in 15 minutes against New Orleans in February. Again, George Zidek, a 7-footer, had seven blocks in 888 minutes as a rookie.
And now, the 10 worst shotblockers in NBA history listed at 7-foot, per basketball-reference.com's block rate data:
1. George Zidek (0.7%)
2. Jason Collier (1.1%)
3. Kevin Duckworth (1.1%)
4. Earl Barron (1.2%)
5. Brad Daugherty (1.2%)
6. Kevin Willis (1.3%)
7. Tom Boerwinkle (1.5%)
8. Bill Cartwright (1.5%)
9. Primoz Brezec (1.6%)
10. Wallace Bryant (1.6%)
The lowest career block rate for a Hall of Fame 7-footer currently goes to Robert Parish, who blocked 3 percent of opponent shots. Dirk Nowitzki will obliterate that record once he's in Springfield, though: his career block rate is currently 1.9 percent. (In fact, Dirk has never hit the 3 percent level in a single season.)
Even then, Dirk is about three times the shotblocker that George Zidek was. Yeesh.