About two weeks ago, I predicted that the Dallas Mavericks would not only beat the Los Angeles Clippers but that it’d be a sweep. Fast forward two weeks later, the Clippers are moving onto the second round, and the Mavs are going home. How is this possible, you might ask? Luka Dončić, who was sensational, ended his second trip to the postseason averaging 36 points, eight rebounds, and ten assists, while his co-star Kristaps Porziņģis was missing in action. Luka Dončić carried the Mavs from game one to game seven, while Kristaps couldn’t have been more disappointing.
At 7’3, Kristaps couldn’t have played any smaller. In seven games, Kristaps Porziņģis averaged 13 points, five rebounds, one assist, shot 47% from the floor, 29% from three-point range, and played 33 minutes a game. For perspective, Luka Dončić is 6 whole inches shorter than Kristaps but averaged three more rebounds. In fact, on a per-game basis, Kristaps out rebounded Luka just once the entire series. Not exactly what you want to see from your seven-foot C/PF.
His performance comes as a shock given that last postseason, Kristaps was dominating the Clippers. Before his season-ending injury in game three, he averaged 24 points, nine rebounds, and shot no less than 50% from the field and the three-point line. Maybe the Clippers figured him out, maybe the injuries are starting to take their toll, but one thing’s for certain, the Mavs need another star to pair with Luka.
Who Should the Mavs Target
Among players the Mavs could potentially pair with their young superstar, three names consistently get brought up. Steph Curry, Bradley Beal, and now, following their first-round series loss, Damian Lillard, would all viable options for the Mavs. Given Luka’s age, play-making ability, and trajectory of his career, there’s no reason another star player shouldn’t be interested in teaming up. However, Kristap’s contract could potentially keep this from happening.
The Mavs resigned Kristaps to a five-year max-deal worth $158 million in July of 2019. They paid him to be a second option when it looks as though he’s a third. But if there’s a way for the Mavs to acquire another star, they must do so. They never found a co-star for Dirk Nowitzki, and it would be treasonist to allow that to happen again. The Mavs could always sit around and hope that Kristaps Porziņģis becomes what they want him to be, but with the possibility of Damian Lillard forcing his way out of Portland… should they really settle for what they have?
Whether the Mavs add another star or not, here’s how I see it. Either Kristaps Porziņģis plays like the skilled unicorn that he is, or he’ll find his way out of Dallas in due time.