It started sometime in the second quarter of the Mavericks-Spurs game Thursday night. Chris Webber of the TNT telecast began droning on, spouting platitudes about how Kristaps Porzingis needs to post up and demand the ball when Luka Doncic is not in the game and even when he is. He incorrectly rambled for nearly six minutes of game action about what he said Porzingis should be doing on the floor offensively.
The halftime TNT studio show with NBA legends Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, and Kenny Smith continued the theme, demanding more from Porzingis, with one of them suggesting he should be a 25 point, 12 rebound a game player. (There is only one player in the league averaging these numbers in 2019-20: Giannis Antetokounmpo). Again, the talk centered around post-ups and a style of basketball which isn’t played anymore.
Afterwards, Seth Partnow of the Athletic said it best:
The Mavs have the most efficienct offense in the league by a full point and a half. The discussion should start with they’re doing a lot more right than wrong, including most especially how they are utilizing their best players.— Anchorage Man (@SethPartnow) December 27, 2019
After the game, Rick Carlisle addressed the issue head on and really went to work on the notion of post-ups in general, saying “The post-up just isn’t a good play anymore... It’s a low value situation. Our numbers are very substantial that when [Porzingis] spaces the floor beyond the three point line, we’re a historically good offensive team.”
He continued, “Let’s get off that stuff that KP needs to go in the post. He doesn’t... Look, he’s used to doing it because they ran the triangle for two or three years when he was there. Who is running the triangle now? Has anyone been seen running the triangle offense? The triple post? If you do, raise your hand, because I want to see who you are. Because I haven’t seen it. Because that offense is extinct.”
Dallas is playing at a historical level, and they’re doing it with some players not even playing up to their personal career standards. It begs the question: do people understand what Dallas is doing to win? Sure, it’s led by Luka Doncic, but where does his space in the lane come from? Porzingis’ perceived gravity keeps his man close by, allowing room for Doncic to probe, then decide where to pass or shoot.
Rick Carlisle's stirring defense of Porzingis should stave off any doubts: KP is playing the role designed to best benefit both him and the team. As Carlisle noted, “the thing I like about his game now, is his reads have gotten better... [Porizingis] is throwing some really good lob passes to [Dwight] Powell. I mean, you’ve got a 7’3” guy throwing to a 6’10” guy on a lob? That’s pretty f****** cool if you ask me.”
Maybe when the Mavericks ride into the playoffs as a three seed, these experts covering the league might take the time to understand how they got there.