Kristaps Porzingis plays his best basketball since joining Mavericks, ‘fun’ along the way

After sinking a mid-range long jumper with one minute left in extra time to increase Dallas Mavericks‘ leads to eight points, Kristaps Porzingis limit another pound performance this season to a previous win Los Angeles Clippers Third night. Porzingis finished the contest with 30 points and seven rebounds, making it his seventh straight game to total 20 points this season, longest period of his career.

If you remove the 12-point performance he put in against New Orleans Pelicans back in early November, where the Mavericks didn’t need many 7-footers in a 16-point win, he’s scored 20 or more in 8 of the 9 games he’s played since returning from a 5-game absence. due to the belt. It’s a welcome sight for the Mavericks, who have been waiting for this kind of consistent production from the Latvian giants since trading for him in January 2019.

While he hasn’t averaged under 20 points in any of his seasons with Dallas, this year he just looks different, especially in the last seven games. Some of that can be attributed to Porzingis having his first holiday in full health since joining the Mavericks, after he rehabilitated from a torn ACL before making his way to Dallas. Then, tear his meniscus in the playoffs down to the Orlando bubble before kicking off last season’s packed schedule.

Against the Clippers, you can see how having a healthy season is having a positive effect on him, especially his mobility and explosiveness. Just look at how nimble he was during this drive to the belt:

He’s also a lot more aggressive on the offensive glass, as he averages nearly three offensive chessboards per game, a career high for him. It leads to errors like this:

… and second chance opportunities like this:

He is taking advantage of more mismatched matches, having been on full display against the Clippers as he shot past the likes of Luka Kennard and Eric Bledsoe on several occasions. Porzingis attributes his early-season success to the fact that gaming this year is more fun than it has been in the past.

“I just feel free to play my game,” Porzingis said after Dallas’ win over the Clippers. “My teammates are trusting me. My coaches are trusting me and I’m out there just having fun. If you’re not having fun it’s hard to play and give your best, but I feel It feels like this year we have that environment. We just play hard for each other and have fun outside.”

It could be a thin stab at former coach Rick Carlisle, who stepped down over the summer in a report-laden season. office drama for the Mavericks. But when you watch Porzingis play this season, he hasn’t pressed many shots on attack, and while his defense isn’t terribly remarkable on the whole, he doesn’t look stiff. Or like he was stuck in the sand as he looked in the past.

There is also continued improvement in his partnership with Luka Doncic, who returned on Tuesday night after a three-game absence with an ankle and knee sprain. Porzingis and Doncic continued to play well against each other against the Clippers, which was starting to culminate before Doncic’s injury.

“Honestly, those were just easy, easy opportunities because of Luka,” Porzingis said. “He just made the game a lot easier for the others. They had to split him, and we just made the next play and that was it.”

It’s not that Doncic and Porzingis didn’t mix well before this season. But between KP’s injuries and his discord when he took the floor, it’s hard to see the full potential of this partnership before. Although they have only played nine games together this season, there have been some notable developments in their ability to find each other in the right positions. Like this absolute coin, Porzingis gives Doncic a cut to vertigo Denver Nuggets‘Defense for a basket is counted as scoring by Aaron Gordon:

Or this pick and roll action between Doncic and Porzingis, which has always proven extremely successful against Mavericks in the past:

It’s a small sample size to work with, but if Porzingis continues to play at this level for Dallas, those commercial rumors Team owner Mark Cuban recently declined will start to disappear. Furthermore, if KP maintains this type of production, then Dallas will likely have a better chance of making it through the first round of this season’s knockouts. Kristaps Porzingis plays his best basketball since joining Mavericks, ‘fun’ along the way


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