With all the accolades and nightly triple-doubles that Luka Doncic has accumulated, he is just a 21-year old star entering his third year in the league. Many people predict Luka to come up with an MVP-caliber year this season, but that will be dependent on the level of success that the Mavericks will achieve.
Dallas will again be a playoff team this year. Even with Kristaps Porzingis sitting out until February, I don’t see them lurking below the .500 in the win-loss column. Luka’s brilliance will get through some close games, and the return of Porzingis should help them overcome serious contenders in the West.
But how good can they be? That’s when their health will enter the picture, especially come playoff time.
Can Porzingis stay healthy in the playoffs?
The Mavericks weren’t able to land a third star this offseason. They got a good two-way player in Josh Richardson, and the return of Dwight Powell will help fill in for Porzingis’ presence in the frontcourt. But neither one of those guys can move the needle, so they will heavily rely on their two stars to make shots for them down the stretch.
Even with the herculean workload that he will be carrying each game, Luka is more of a finesse player. That means he won’t be that inclined to injuries, as opposed to the tendencies of explosive athletes who rely on their athleticism.
Porzingis, for his part, was mostly healthy in his first two years with the Knicks. But ever since he suffered that ACL injury in 2018, the 7-foot-3 Latvian center has sustained consecutive minor injuries that hindered his progress. He will be out for at least a month this season as he is still recovering from a torn meniscus in his right knee.
In a squad with just two stars and not a whole lot of depth, Doncic and Porzingis will be hard-pressed to stay away from injuries. Porzingis might be seeing a bit of a restriction in his minutes when he gets back, but Luka’s situation is a different story. The Mavs can’t afford to manage his load as they are chasing a playoff spot in this stacked Western Conference.
Mavs will be good, but not good enough
Luka will be exceptional this season. His feel for the game is already one of the best that we have seen in league history. But aside from Luka and Porzingis, the Mavs don’t have the luxury of having proven shot-creators coming off the bench.
The addition of Josh Richardson will be tremendous on both ends of the floor. Richardson could be the team’s secondary playmaker, and his work on the defensive end will be valuable for Dallas. Tim Hardaway Jr and Trey Burke can put up the buckets, but they are volume shooters. Jalen Brunson is a good young point guard who has been a steady hand for the Mavericks, especially in terms of his playmaking.
Still, there’s not much firepower in this squad to beat the more elite teams in the playoffs. I just don’t see them pulling off an upset and winning in a seven-game series against the likes of the Lakers, Clippers, or Nuggets.