The Dallas Mavericks currently have a record of 5-4. The season’s young, so it’s too early to panic. Luka Doncic began the season in a “slump” for his hefty expectations but came alive once again in the Mavericks’ recent win versus the Houston Rockets. The team has certainly had its ups and downs early, but one thing remains clear – Kristaps Porzingis is crucial.
Kristaps Porzingis is Crucial for the Dallas Mavericks
Porzingis is the Frontcourt’s Offense
The four big men outside of Porzingis are Dwight Powell, Maxi Kleber, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Boban Marjanovic. To put it simply – the four combined barely match the offensive presence Porzingis brings.
Powell is averaging a mere five points per game this season. This comes on 21 minutes on the floor. To his defense, however, a torn Achilles last season has limited his normal athletic bounce. He isn’t the lob threat he used to be, which severely diminishes his game. His minutes tend to be negative for Dallas as well, as he only averages four rebounds per game as a center.
Kleber can often be an “X-Factor”. He’s either hot from three, or a net-negative on offense. He averages close to eight points per game, which is fine off the bench. With that being said, he’s a good bench option but nothing more.
Cauley-Stein is athletic and can be the former bounce threat Powell was. He recently “broke out” versus Houston, and showed the impact he can have. Expect seeing him on the floor with Porzingis quite often in the near future.
Marjanovic is sparingly used. This is always odd, as he typically is quite effective. His size limits his speed, agility, and stamina, however.
Porzingis averaged close to 21 points per game in an injury-riddled season last year. He’s a fantastic shooter and is growing his effectiveness in the paint. His return is necessary on offense to limit Doncic’s hefty workload.
Current Frontcourt Defense and Rebounding Woes
The Mavericks’ defense has actually been quite decent as compared to last season. A large part of this is due to the Josh Richardson trade. He’s a borderline elite perimeter defender and doesn’t back down from any challenge. Dorian Finney-Smith remains a defensive presence, and Doncic has shown clear improvement on that side of the ball as well.
Dallas struggles with rebounding. This, of course, comes with missing Porzingis’ near 10 rebounds per game from last season. Powell is a below-average rebounder for his position, Kleber is mediocre, and Cauley-Stein needs more minutes to prove his rebounding prowess. What this comes down to, however, is Powell’s minutes on the floor due to a lack of strong frontcourt depth.
It’s no surprise to see Doncic as the top rebounder on the team due to playing the most minutes and the fact that he’s a proven strong rebounder. The issue, however, is Kleber being second off the bench and Finney-Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. outrebounding Powell. The Mavericks allow far too many second-chance points and need a solid rebounder like Porzingis.
All in all, Porzingis will affect this team in a great way. He’ll immediately assert himself once again as the second-best scorer/player, and a solid rebounder and shot-blocker.
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