This is going to be a huge year for the Dallas Mavericks, for a couple of big reasons. According to many experts, this is the year Luka Dončić completely breaks through and wins his first of many MVP awards. But more importantly, it’s finally time for the Mavs to find out if they can count on Kristaps Porziņģis to be the Robin to Luka’s Batman.
Over the last two seasons, Porziņģis and the Mavs have flamed out in the first round of the playoffs against the Los Angeles Clippers. Many believe that had Porziņģis not gotten injured in the Orlando bubble in 2020, the Mavs would have upset the Clippers instead of falling in six games.
That has been one of the biggest knocks on Porziņģis, affectionately known as the unicorn. Even with the cool nickname given to him early in his career with the New York Knicks, for as well as he played, Porziņģis could not seem to stay on the court. In his first three years in the league, Porziņģis played in 186 of a possible 246 games. Kristaps isn’t a bad player; he just hadn’t lived up to the nickname bestowed upon him since his rookie year when he played in 72 games. That’s the most in his career to this point.
When Porziņģis joined the Mavs in 2019, everyone figured this would be a match made in heaven for the two European stars. Oh, how wrong the pundits were about this pairing. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve played well together when Porziņģis is on the floor, but they haven’t nearly reached the heights of success most people were expecting.
Aside from not being healthy enough to play most of the time since being traded to Dallas, Porziņģis seems to be having a hard time adjusting to playing Dončić. It really sounds like Porziņģis is having a tough time playing second fiddle to Dončić. Since early on with the Knicks, it looked like Porziņģis would be the next big star in New York City.
But that never panned out, and now year three in Dallas for Porziņģis is going to be make-or-break for several reasons. First and foremost, he’s got to show his team and the league that he can stay healthy for most of the season, especially down the stretch and into the playoffs. As good as Dončić is, he still needs a wingman that can score 20 points per game consistently in the west to take a little pressure off his shoulders. It’s time for Kristaps to get over the fact that he’ll always come second to Luka. It’s been reported that Porziņģis doesn’t like Dončić’s style of play. If true, that’s just something KP must find a way to work around.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has downplayed the beef between his two stars, referring to their clashing styles as “dustups” and nothing more. Cuban can call it whatever he wants. It’s a do-or-die season, for this Mavs team must find a way to get out of the first round of the playoffs. Porziņģis needs to show that he can play alongside Dončić without pouting whenever he doesn’t get the ball for an open shot. If Kristaps can’t swallow his pride and figure out a way to make this partnership work, he’ll find himself playing in the land of the lost. He’ll end up somewhere like Minnesota or Orlando if he isn’t careful.