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Will Doncic and Porzingis fire the Dallas Mavericks into the playoffs?

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January 31st 2019 – The Dallas Mavericks traded DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, Dennis Smith Jr, a 2021 1st round pick and 2023 1st round pick for a deal that contained a few nice pieces in Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr and Courtney Lee. The real deal was to capture Kristaps Porzingis (KP).

KP however was recovering from an ACL injury at the time of the trade which meant that he did not play during the 2018/19 season and has not been on an NBA court in 19 months.

This season will see him join forces with another European stud and reigning Rookie Of The Year in Luka Doncic to form one of the youngest duos in a league that has seen many new duos form in the 2019 summer.

With KP being only 24 & Luka turning 21 in early 2020 these two are some of the brightest talents in the league and with KP signing a 5 year max rookie extension in July 2019 which starts at just over $27 million, could rise to $36 million for the fifth year player option. Safe to say that these two are the cornerstones of the Mavs franchise for at least the next 3 years, so this makes me ask the question, how good can these guys be?

Both Luka & KP have been putting in the work to transform their bodies ahead of the 2019/20 season.


Luka has lost a rumoured 20 pounds which in an interview on Aug 30th on the Mavs website he was asked about the impact of losing the weight to which he said “… I’m faster now. So (my defense is) going to get better, for sure.”

According to Mavs director of athletic performance Jeremy Holsopple; KP has added “between 16 & 17 pounds” this offseason. Both the organisation and the fans will be hoping he can stay out of further injury problems which have plagued him since his arrival in the league. In his rookie year he played in 72 games, decreasing to 66 & 48 in the following 2 seasons. Time will tell if this new muscle will aid him in staying healthier for longer.

I’d imagine that due to his injury being of such a serious nature the Mavs management will be looking at load management during the course of the season and maybe a minutes restriction for the start of the season as the last 2 seasons of action he averaged approximately 32 minutes a game.

Providing both players are healthy, what should we be expecting from the duo?


Firstly, Porzingis will take some games to get his full mojo back especially as he is in a new team on top of the injury recovery, however what if he is able to produce similar numbers to the last time he was on court?

In the 2017/18 season he averaged 39.5% from 3 point range, 2.4 blocks per game, 22.7 points per game, this demonstrates how good of a two way player KP could be and with such a good 3 point stroke a prime pick & pop/roll offence could open up the perfect two man game with Luka.

Doncic himself has shown even in preseason the work he’s put in on his shot and he’ll be hoping to improve his percentage from 32.7%, with defenses having to worry about both him & KP on the offensive end it should give him more space. Failing this just shoot further out, see the video for this evidence.

However with the weight loss and the additional speed this should help Luka be able to get easier points at the rim in addition to the extended 3 point shot, also the spacing that KP can provide will leave more driving lanes open especially during any minutes which they are both on the floor and KP is playing center.

Can this duo make the Mavs a playoff contender?

I think this is a very difficult question, the West is so stacked and from looking at the current roster, personally I’d be surprised if they made it, that’s not to say it’s impossible as we have just seen through last season injuries play such a huge part of the NBA however unless they are able to make a trade or 2 for a third major piece I can see them finishing between 10th and 12th in the western conference.

KP & Luka’s numbers compared to duos within the league based on last season’s data, KP’s data is based on the 2017/18 season.

The most interesting number here is the On Court +/-, outside of the Mavs duo the lowest numbers are held by Ben Simmons and LeBron James followed by Anthony Davis (2.2, 2.3 & 3.3 respectively), Simmons being the lowest for any player in this list which made the playoffs. Compared to KP’s & Doncic’s numbers of 0.6 & -3.4, these are by far and away the worst numbers on this list.

However these numbers do not necessarily give us any indication as KP has always been on what continues to be a struggling franchise in the Knicks (sorry Knicks fans) and obviously Luka is only a second year player and therefore fans will hope for progress but also the organisation did not reach the playoffs last season.

This does indicate that the On Court +/- per 100 possessions for star players within the team need to be close to +5 as Ben Simmons you can argue was not a star player on the 76ers due to amount of talent between Embiid, Butler, Harris that Simmons did not need to do as much heavy lifting.

It will be a very interesting season in Dallas to watch these two young players gain a better understanding of each others game and hopefully be able to propel the Mavs further up the incredibly tough western conference standings.

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