After a somewhat rocky start to the season, for the past month-plus Kristaps Porzingis reminded the league why he received a max extension this past summer. The month of February was great for the Unicorn as he shot 48 percent on 16 field-goal attempts per game and 40 percent on nine three-point attempts per game. As we kick off March, he’s been remarkable scoring 38 against Minnesota, scoring 34 against New Orleans, and 26 against Memphis.
When the season first began, post-ups were few and far between and rather ineffective. Everyone around the league was curious as to what exactly the duo of Porzingis and Luka Doncic would look like. There were a lot of deep threes and some nice alley-oops, but it was not clear why Porzingis wasn’t taking advantage of smaller defenders in the post.
Rick Carlisle made a statement earlier in the season saying that the Mavericks simply don’t run post up plays and that they just “aren’t a good play to call anymore.” Despite that, after the season-ending injury to Dwight Powell, Porzingis has played center much more and has started working his way inside. In the last 10 games, he’s shooting 65.6 percent on shots less than 5 feet from the basket.
Porzingis said in an interview recently that he feels like he has more room to operate when he plays the five. Later in the interview when discussing his post game, he gave credit to Dallas’ player development coach, God Shammgod for helping him put in the extra work that has led to his impressive performances as of late.
Porzingis’ post game development has clearly boosted his confidence. In his last five games, KP is averaging 30 points, 12 rebounds, and almost four blocks. He’s attacking the rim with speed and finesse, drawing fouls that send him to the line which heat him up. In the last 10 games, Porzingis is shooting 66.7 percent on shots from 15-19 feet. He looks for those “mouse-in-the-house” situations as Mavs legend Derek Harper likes to say. Whether he’s a step outside of the block or out on the elbow, he has the ability to turn around and shoot directly over the top of his defender. When Dallas played Sacramento prior to All Star break, Porzingis caught 6’3 guard Cory Joseph in a mismatch and drained a nice mid-range jumper directly over the top of him. Porzingis may or may not have been seen laughing as he backpedaled to the other end of the floor.
The Unicorn’s confidence boost has translated to the stats as well. So far in March, Porzingis is averaging 33 points while shooting at a 50 percent clip. He’s shooting 11 threes per game as opposed to six in January, December, and November. Porzingis has had 23 double-doubles this year and we’ve only just passed the midpoint of the season. In his second year with the Knicks, he only had 12 all season. The current role Porzingis is in here in Dallas is allowing his game to flourish. He’s having fun playing for a team that wants to win and he’s enjoying being around players and staff that believe in him.
This season is about developing the chemistry between Luka and Porzingis, so while the Mavericks may not get home court advantage come playoff time, they do have one of the best young duo in the league and they’re hopefully here for years to come. Porzingis will continue to get better and Doncic will continue to grow into the MVP-caliber player we all know he can be. As I always say, the future is bright here in Dallas.