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Mavs Mailbag: Giannis, Porzingis, and the Wizard Rick Carlisle

The Mavericks have a few days off, we take a breath and ask the tough questions.

New Orleans Pelicans v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks have been on a tear of late, winning 10 of their last 12 with two separate five-game win streaks. With a few days off before their Mexico City matchup with the Detroit Pistons, we can decompress and reflect with another edition of Mavs Mailbag!

@lukepurs: What do you think about the “KP should play inside more” talk we heard on TNT the other night?

I did not catch TNT’s discussion of whether Kristaps Porzingis should play inside more, so I can’t speak to that directly. What I will say is that if Rick Carlisle believes that the best version of the Mavericks longterm success on the offensive end involves Porzingis in the post, then finding touches for him now is important.

The early success the Mavericks have had is exciting, but no one should lose sight that this is still a process to contention and that everything should be built with a year or two from now in mind. Because if we’re only talking about this season’s success, Porzingis is not shooting well in the post (an awful 26 percent between 3-10 feet). But as Carlisle said weeks ago, everything Porzingis is able to produce this season is gravy. Building him up and giving him reps is more important for the long term.

@callme_Jason: There’s been some cynicism surrounding KP’s performance thus far. Am I being too easy on him thinking I would rather he start off passive and grow into an offensive threat than him coming in and demanding touches? The past few games, Rick appears to be calling more plays for him.

Like I said above, in so many words, everyone needs to cool it with the Porzingis stress. With the injury history he’s had, and the amount of time he had off, what he’s been able to do so far is solid. There should only be concern if by next season he’s having the same offensive issues.

Even when a player is healthy, learning a new system and their place in it is difficult. What Porzingis has shown is a willingness to be patient and be openly supportive of the process. There should also be trust in Carlisle that he understands the longterm approach to building Porzingis’ game back, and finding his spots to make him the focus. But everyone, including the fans and fellow media, need to be patient.

@Christo75028704: I know it’s now cliche at this point, but with Luka morphing into a viable MVP Candidate, and the overall success of the club, doesn’t that give us a better than fair shot at Giannis in 21? Is there a better fit if he doesn’t stay in Milwaukee? Philly, clippers, Boston, maybe?

Luka Doncic being a legitimate MVP candidate early in his second season should make any free agent want to play in Dallas. The fact that the Mavericks look like they’re a step or two ahead of their rebuild should put every player on notice.

But let’s hold off on the Giannis Antetokounmpo talk, only for fear of heartbreak. The NBA is wild, and so much can happen between now and his free agency. If he does opt to look elsewhere? Sure the Mavericks should swing (like they always do). I’m not entirely sure what the fit is like for Giannis next to Doncic and Porzingis. If I’m being honest I’d like the to add a player that’s a knockdown shooter from deep.

Other spots where Giannis fits? Golden State next to Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, the Clippers like you mentioned above, and perhaps a few others.

@g_bert320: Think Rick Carlisle should be on the list for Coach of the Year?

Yes Rick should be on the Coach of the Year shortlist a quarter of the way through the season. And if the Mavericks end up top five in the West then send the award to Dallas. What he’s doing with all the pieces surrounding Luka Doncic is a fantastic reminder to all his detractors that Carlisle is still a tactical wizard.

Other coaches who should be in the top five at the quarter mark: Frank Vogel, Brad Stevens, Monty Williams and Erik Spoelstra.

@rutuj_k_: How do you replace what Delon brings to the table, considering his injury keeps him out for some time?

In a roundabout way I said Delon Wright is the Mavericks’ Non-Luka MVP in a recent roundtable, and I’m sticking with it. The good and the bad about the way the Mavericks built this roster is that Carlisle has a giant stable of players at his disposal on any given night. He’s started to solidify rotations, but still has the flexibility to ride hot hands.

What Wright provides is unique to him, which is why he’s their second best player, and will require Carlisle to collage his production together. Offensively Jalen Brunson should be able to carry some of that load, with his penetration ability and finishing in traffic. The defensive end is the bigger concern — putting more pressure on Dorian Finney-Smith to be the only true perimeter defender, and asking Tim Hardaway Jr. and Seth Curry to play above their ability on that end.

@michaelthewei: Are there any concerns with the viability of the bench’s dominance translating to the playoff environment as rotations shorten and teams are able to scout each other more thoroughly?

It’s wild that we can talk about this reality so early in the season, but here we are. The minutes will shorten, but I expect much of their standard 10-man rotation to still see time. The scouting report will be less focused on shutting down the bench and directly focused on shutting down Doncic’s playmaking, thus putting more pressure on Porzingis, Hardaway, and a few others.

The Mavericks having success in the playoff will be matchup based, and will rely on Carlisle flexing his adjustment muscles which all made us fall in love with him in the first place. I expect the playoffs to have a 2014 feel, where they take a team like the eventual-champion San Antonio Spurs to game seven. But if they get hot like they have early this season, they could be a problem.