While the Mavs have started off the year better than I and many others anticipated, currently tied for third in the West at 11-5, I’m a little concerned by what I’m seeing from Kristaps Porzingis.
Dallas’ lanky Latvian is coming off of an ACL tear that caused him to miss the entirety of last season, so I certainly am considering that in evaluating him. Any player out of the game for such a significant amount of time is going to be shaking off some rust and working kinks out of his game.
That being said, there are some aspects of his play that have been lacking. Primarily his post play and strength.
His first few years in New York, one of the knocks on Kristaps was his lack of strength, but as a young player it was expected that he’d put on strength. While he has put on some, it has been clear this season and especially against Houston today, that he still requires major work in this department.
Porzingis was routinely unable to move PJ Tucker and Clint Capela who were assigned to him most of the game.
On offense, Porzingis simply lacks the strength and aggression to have any real affect inside 12 feet. He often has no real plan when he posts up and often will face up instead. If he does decided to attempt a shot from the post, it’s usually a pretty weak and ineffective turnaround jumper. He has no real semblance of a hook or fade from the post and that makes him relatively ineffective in the paint.
You might think to yourself, “Why does it matter what he does inside? That boy can SHOOT!” and you know what, you’re damn right he can shoot. He’s hitting 36.8% from deep on the highest volume of his career (6.2 3pt attempts per game)
And that’s great, he might be the best shooter we’ve ever seen of someone his size. But, right now that’s what he is. An insanely tall guy who can’t exert his size on the offensive end, and at times he struggles to on the defensive end.
While Porzingis is a phenomenal weak side shot blocker and can hold his own on the perimeter extremely well, he routinely struggles to box out and can get backed down easily by a smart post player.
Clint Capela gathered 10 offensive boards and made many easy putbacks and layups in the paint. Capela was bodying Porzingis in the paint regularly on both sides. So even though Porzingis is rebounding at the best rate of his young career this season, there is a lot of room for improvement on his positioning and strength.
Look, this is not meant as any kind of dig at Porzingis. I think at times we get too lost in what a player can’t do instead of focusing on all the things they can’t. In Porzingis’ case, I just see so much potential and want to see that come to fruition. He has a skill set that only a handful of guys in the league EVER can match.
He has the ability to be a top 15 or 20 player in the NBA if he can develop and maintains his health. His growth is the difference between Dallas being a playoff contender, and a champion.
I’m excited to see how he develops throughout his career and how the Mavs handle the rest of this year.
Leave any thoughts, opinions, or questions down below!