Dallas Mavericks: Kristaps Porzingis’ importance is being felt

Amidst recent struggles, Kristaps Porzingis’ absence is being felt on the Dallas Mavericks

It has been a rough few weeks for Dallas Mavericks fans, and things might not get easier any time soon with no real word on Kristaps Porzingis‘ expected return to the lineup. The glaring hole he leaves on both sides of the court are so extremely obvious.

With Porzingis struggling at times while working his way back from an Achilles injury, his importance to the team wasn’t truly understood. That is – until he wasn’t there.

The Dallas Mavericks are 4-4 in the eight games that Kristaps Porzingis has missed with knee soreness. The Mavericks offense struggles without the space that K.P. provides, and his presence in the defensive paint is sorely missed.

The good news is, it’s not the same knee he injured in New York. The bad news is, it’s not the same knee he injured in New York. It not being the same surgically repaired knee should mean that Kristaps will return to action faster, but issues in both knees could be a bad sign for the 24-year-old Porzingis.

The Mavericks lack of interior defense and rebounding without K.P. are the obvious reasons for the recent slump. The not so obvious reason is Kristaps “gravity” or the attention defensive players pay to him. This is important because Kristaps’ defenders unwillingness to help opens up driving lanes for Luka Doncic.

Luka is shooting a league best 62.4 percent on drives to the basket. With attacking the basket being such an important part of the Luka’s arsenal, Porzingis’ absence is the reason for the struggling Mavericks offense. Luka isn’t the only player hurting with Porzingis out. Mavericks rim roller Dwight Powell has also seen a drop in efficiency. The Dallas Mavericks run what is called “double horns” to start a lot of their offensive possessions.

This is where the two post players set high screens for the guard normally Luka. With one big popping out for the shot and the other attacking the basket with Luka. This action not only puts pressure on the opposing defense. It also highlights Luka’s strengths; His ability to make good decisions, his ability to finish in the paint, and his ability to make passes over defenders to open teammates.

The key to successfully running “double horns” is having a lob threat (Powell) and an outside shooting threat (Porzingis). With Kristaps in the lineup his defender has to stay close, or give up an open three. Thus opening up the lane for Luka and Powell to attack the basket. This action causes the defense to make adjustments. Possibly Luka’s greatest strength is his ability to identify, and exploit those adjustments.

If the defender sticks to the screeners, Luka is left one on one to cook his defender. If the help defender cuts off Luka’s drive he kicks back for the three, or goes over the top with the lob. If a wing defender cheats in then Luka kicks out to one of the Dallas Mavericks great corner three-point shooters.

Kristaps Porzingis hasn’t returned to his all-star form just yet, but his importance to the team has been made clear over the past few games. Despite some saying that Kristaps needs to play more in the paint. The Dallas Mavericks offense has been tough to watch at times without Porzingis in to stretch the floor.

The Dallas Mavericks started this season on a high, and are currently experiencing a low. To quote the late great Nipsey Hussle ” Success or greatness comes with a rollercoaster ride.”.

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