Why Brandel Chamblee says Brooks Koepka is Dirk Nowitzki

Brooks Koepka

Brooks Koepka hits his tee shot on the 14th hole at TPC Harding Park on Thursday.

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Dirk Nowitzki averaged 25.3 points per game over 15 playoff appearances in his NBA career. He averaged 20.7 points over 21 regular seasons. Nowitzki averaged 10 rebounds in the playoffs, 7.5 in the regular season. Nowitzki averaged 2.5 assists in the playoffs, 2.4 in the regular season. Nowitzki averaged 0.9 blocks in the playoffs, 0.8 in the regular season. Nowitzki, statistically, was a better player when it mattered more. 

Brooks Koepka has won seven tournaments over his seven seasons on the PGA Tour. Four majors. Three regular-season events. 

Koepka is Nowitzki, Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee said.

“He’s a different player than he is in regular Tour events,” Chamblee said Wednesday in advance of this week’s PGA Championship, where Koepka is the two-time defending champion. “You sort of rack your brain to try to come up with another Tour player who was like that. I couldn’t really do it. And I started to look at other sports and really there was one player who stuck out – there was a fella by the name of Dirk Nowitzki. And Dirk Nowitzki was one player in regular-season games and a completely different player (in the playoffs).”

Chamblee compared Koepka’s strokes: gained number during the past six PGA Championships to his number during the regular season. 

Each was better during the PGA Championship, by a difference of 1.43 in 2014, 2.53 in 2015, 1.56 in 2016, 0.89 in 2017, 2.78 in 2018 and 3.26 in 2019. 

“Brooks Koepka has only won five percent of his Tour events,” Chamblee said. “But he’s three times the player in major championships. Now there’s a lot of different ways you can try to break that down. The best stat available, really, is strokes gained because it’s a relative stat and it takes into account the strengths and weaknesses of the field.” 

Chamblee also compared Koepka’s numbers in four other statistical categories – strokes gained: off the tee, strokes gained: approach the green, strokes gained: around the green and strokes gained: putting. Over the six seasons and the 24 total numbers, Koepka was better at the PGA Championship in 21 of them. 

“He’s Dirk Nowitzki,” Chamblee said. “It took me a little while to find that.”    

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Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor