There are a myriad of factors that made the trade for Kristapis Porzingis obvious and paramount to the clubs success moving forward. The Mavericks roster is incomplete, the Draft Lottery is in a few weeks but let’s take a look at what we can expect from arguably the teams most important mid-season addition.
Career averages of 18 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks per game for a fourth-year player drafted 4th overall is legitimate production, however, being chosen by arguably the leagues most dysfunctional and high profile club cant be easy.
Kristaps was without question surrounded by abnormal circumstances in New York but proving to be an All-Star was enough to warrant significant consideration from most teams around the league. Projecting future success for a single player is never an exact science. To this point, KP’s career deserves the attention and growing expectations many Mavs fans have expressed. Here are some keys we can focus on to determine when he reaches that next level.
Prior to the devastating knee injury that ended his 2017-18 season (48 games), the Latvian native was averaging 25 points per game and the bonafide leader of the New York Knicks. Offensive production has never been a true concern of his game. To begin that season Porzingis scored 30 points in each of his first eleven games. The scorching hot start was eventually curtailed but the early production was undeniable.
After a not so cordial exit from New York, the transition to Dallas had to be a welcomed move. Expecting Porzingis to improve his scoring numbers is anticipated to a degree since he spent all of 2018-19 rehabbing his knee. A huge part of that improvement will be the budding relationship with Luka Doncic. The camaraderie the two share is obvious and palpable. In the coming seasons, MFFL’s should receive a healthy dose of pick & roll/ pop basketball as both excel at this option. This familiar play is a key component to their games. Below reference how KP reads the misapplication of the defensive coverage to a wide open three-point basket. Courtney Lee’s baseline drive forces a commitment from Dwight Howard creating a clear opportunity to score.
Theoretically, Luka Doncic would be orchestrating such a play instead of the aforementioned veteran. Doncic finished this season 10th overall in points scored (562) as the ball handler in pick and roll plays. Entangling the squads two best players in a read and react play such as this bodes well for the Mavericks offense. This illustrates the potential potency the club could exploit next season.
KP’s ability to manipulate the post and mid-post area is elite. In an injury plagued 2017-18, he ranked 8th in the league in total post-up baskets (263). Teams throughout the league are searching for ways to create simpler baskets and the Mavericks have added another method.
The club has acquired another player that can produce quality baskets in soon to be bigger moments. The peaks and valleys of an NBA season can create inconsistency however a player with Kristaps offensive arsenal should halt any significant portion of a drought.
In his last full season with the Knicks (2016-17) Porzingis finished first in defensive wins shares. This proved he is capable of affecting the game on both ends. A slender yet aggressive frame allows him the agility to keep up with some perimeter players while contesting and blocking shots. Notice in each of his seasons an upward trend in both points and blocks driving this point home.
Statistically, it’s difficult to argue with KP’s production however there are areas in which improvement will be mandatory. Like most young players there is a learning curve mostly felt on the defensive end of the floor. Early in 2017, Porzingis’ defensive struggles were well documented as the Knicks continued to underwhelm us all.
Speculation would suggest a complete overhaul of his defensive acumen is warranted but the mistakes can be rectified as they are largely about defensive posturing. Defensive positioning is a science that grows with experience. When next season begins I’m certain we will see a more savvy Kristaps on that end.
Ultimately Kristaps Porzingis production will come down to the team’s ability to obtain a prolific contributor that will highlight the strengths of the fourth year big man. He is the prototypical stretch power forward that has been forced to play center due to the changing landscape of the NBA. The Mavs need to locate a rebounding big man that can alleviate some of the paint protection pressure he has previously struggled with. Predicting any off-season moves is a futile exercise however ensuring the newest Maverick isn’t beat up halfway through the season must be on Cuban and companies mind. With that said here are my projections for next season:
Comfortable Projection: -19 PPG, +7 REBS, -3 AST, +1 BPG, 42% FG, 37% 3FG
Wild Projection: +23 PPG, -10 REBS, +4 AST, -2.5 BPG, 47% FG, 40% 3FG
Championship expectations this season would be misguided without the addition of significant help, but to say spirits are high is an understatement.
The Mavericks have desired the addition of a player the caliber of Kristapis Porzingis for several years. They must utilize his incorporation in a major way if they plan on joining the playoff fun next year.
Stats: www.NBA.com, www.basketball-reference.com YouTube: The Knicks Wall Photo: www.Mavs.com