The success or failure of the Dallas Mavericks will likely come down to how Kristaps Porzingis performs in 2019-20.
Perhaps no team has a wider disparity between possible floor and possible ceiling than the Dallas Mavericks. Slatted to finish somewhere between 6th and 11th in the West, the 2019-20 Dallas Mavericks have a fairly significant boom/bust potential. And that success (or failure) is largely linked to one man: Kristaps Porzingis.
Kristaps Porzingis, or “KP”, is the difference between sinking and swimming this season. The former All-Star may be one of the most talented players in the league, but he’s coming off a major injury (Achilles) and a significant hiatus (roughly two years rehabbing). There’s no question he’s the true X-factor for the Dallas Mavericks this season.
KP wasn’t just once an All-Star, but he was on track as a legit MVP candidate once upon a time. The 7’3” big man can score from anywhere on the floor. Blessed with tremendous movement for a man of his size, KP is a true “unicorn” on the basketball court.
On the Dallas Mavericks, KP looks to fit perfectly within Rick Carlisle’s system. Playing primarily at the four on offense, KP will stretch defenses on one end of the court and protect the rim on the other end.
While his girth and physicality leave something to be desired, his defense goes largely underrated. The reality is, he’s both willing and able to be a defensive presence. And according to FiveThirtyEight’s DRAYMOND rankings (which assess defensive execution), Kristaps is ranked third in the NBA for qualified players since the 2013-14 season. Third out of everybody in the NBA since 2013!
Obviously there are holes in this particular rating and no one is seriously calling KP the third best defender in the NBA, but the point is made. KP is extremely effective in limiting his opponents’ scoring. Kinda the point of defense, right?
All indications are the Dallas Mavericks plan to ease KP into this, before exposing him to the full-time rigors of the NBA season. So, how much KP plays on the given night remain to be seen. But if KP can make a significant impact and get up to full speed by New Years, this Mavericks team is going to surprise some people.
More from Dallas Mavericks
- The Dallas Mavericks accomplished a lot on Draft Day
- Mavericks pairing Luka Doncic and Draymond Green a technical (foul) disaster
- Can the Mavericks steal Deandre Ayton from cap-strapped Suns?
- Dallas Mavericks: Top-5 options for the Mavs to explore in the NBA Draft
- Dallas Mavericks can’t keep pick No. 10 in the NBA Draft
The Mavs have built their roster with an extremely flexible lineup. They have two young wings in Justin Jackson and Dorian Finney-Smith who can play regular and small ball. They have a 6’6” PG in Luka Doncic (who can score and distribute from anywhere). And they have dynamic bigs in Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell who can complement and replace KP in the lineup.
In other words, the Mavs have built the perfect environment for KP to succeed. And if he succeeds, so do the Mavs.
With that X-factor status, also comes the potential for failure. If KP can’t bounce back from his injury, he could be a major liability on the court since much of his game is based on his abnormal athleticism (although he’ll always be a shooter so the floor can’t get too low).
We know Luka Doncic and the returning crew are going to produce. We suspect that given their career age, potential, and individual career archs, the returning Mavs will even improve. But Kristaps Porzingis is the Wild Card. He has the potential to make these Dallas Mavericks sink or swim. He’s the X-factor.
- Published on 10/04/2019 at 11:01 AM
- Last updated at 10/05/2019 at 08:09 AM