Via. Sportsday Dallas News
The NBA is awash in power duos. Yet months before AD-LeBron, KD-Kyrie, or Kawhi-PG (to name a few!) teamed up this summer, the Mavericks made their moves during the season before the February trading deadline. It has been all too easy to forget about Dallas’ young nucleus of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis.
Here’s a quick recap if the excitement of this offseason fogged your memory: On January 31st of this year, the Mavericks sent DeAndre Jordan, bouncy youngster Dennis Smith Jr. and a selection of picks to New York for the Latvian “unicorn” Kristaps Porzingis. Courtney Lee, Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. were included to match salaries, meaning the Mavericks endured the raw end of the deal with some hefty contracts for marginal NBA or role players.
This was and continues to be an extremely interesting trade. The sort that makes the likes of us at Off The Glass get all analytical and excited for articles to write and debates to dive into!
Porzingis was blossoming in the NBA until an ACL tear sidelined him for half of the 2017-18 season and all of 2018-19. Until he went down in only his third year, he had the Knicks in the playoff race, averaging 26 points per game while barely scratching the surface of his potential. He was like a cross between Kevin Durant and Dirk Nowitzki
Luka Doncic, meanwhile, was one of the biggest question marks in the 2018 NBA draft. Was he a future superstar and all-timer, or was he yet another European experiment bound to go wrong. Thus far, it appears the former has proven true.
The Mavericks weren’t great last season, but Doncic was super exciting to watch. He was also among the league leaders in all-star votes for much of the year, and by the time the spring was the runaway rookie of the year.
Luka Doncic Rookie Season Highlights
So combine the two and what do we get?
Two European prodigies. One big, one small. Both shooters. One ball-handling playmaker and one shot-blocking stretch big. Both tough as nails, ballers of the highest orders.
In my view, this might be one of the rare NBA occasions where hyperbole pans out. It’s not a stretch to say the Mavericks have two youngsters who could BOTH end up being the league’s best player.
I’ll do you one better: Dallas could become a multi-championship juggernaut. The day may come when we say that one or both of these two are the best European players ever with four or five championships to prove it.
Then again, the day may come when they sorely underachieving, were robbed by injuries, or had to part ways for fiscal or personality reasons. After all, this is the NBA.
Porzingis has already proven he can be a diva, as evidenced at times during his brief stint in New York. Let’s see if that side manifests itself during the 5-year contract extension he just inked with Dallas.
Questions over Doncic - so far - are all about his game. What sort of defender is he? What’s his true position? He’s athletic, but is he athletic enough? What’s his ceiling? It can be concerning when young players are polished; when you’re this talented, how much motivation is there to improve?
The Mavericks will be a fringe playoff team this year, in the same vein as the Sacramento Kings last season. Good for a 41-41 record maybe. This year is about Porzingis’ health and these trying to make these two joined at the hip.
Still, in a League where we’re talking about all other things and numerous other two-star teams, the Mavericks are one for the future.