Luka is still under his rookie deal, while the Mavericks secured Porzingis to a five-year, $158-million max contract.
These should be the three major storylines for Dallas heading into the 2019-20 season:
1. Luka Doncic’s Improvement
Doncic had one of the best debut campaigns in NBA history. He became just the second player after Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson to average at least 21 PPG, 7 RPG, and 6 APG in his rookie season.
The Slovenian Sensation showcased a game that was mature beyond his teenage years. It was clear that he was ready for prime time.
With that said, many are experiencing Doncic to take a major leap in Year 2 and establish himself as a legitimate star. As good as he already is, he is far from a finished product. There are still aspects of his game that need improvement.
A lot of this hinges on whether he shows up next season in top physical condition. The 2019 Rookie of the Year reportedly shed a few pounds over the summer, which should improve his defense.
Doncic is already an amazing offensive talent, but his defense is still a work in progress. Doncic had a negative net rating (-3.1) last season due to his defensive flaws.
More often than not, the 6-foot-7 guard gets beaten off the dribble by much quicker guards. Being lighter on his feet should address his lack of lateral quickness.
Likewise, his leaner frame should help him get to the basket more. Doncic’s efficiency wasn’t too good. He shot just 42.7 percent from the field and 32.7 percent from three. His true shooting percentage (54.4 percent) ranked just 100th in the league.
Rookies usually struggle from the field in their first go-round. With a year of NBA basketball under his belt, many are expecting Doncic to be more efficient in his sophomore campaign.
One of the main reasons why he wasn’t too efficient in his rookie season was that he often settled for long-range threes; around 43 percent of his shots came from downtown.
While his signature stepback threes have been fun to watch, being in better shape should help him get past his defenders on the perimeter.
Doncic is a special talent. The next step for him is to become a more complete player and efficient scorer for the Mavericks.
2. Kristaps’ Porzingis’ Health and Return to All-Star Form
The Porzingis max contract comes with some hazard signs.
Porzingis is coming off a lengthy layoff due to a torn left ACL. Prior to that, he hadn’t been consistently healthy either. He appeared in just 48 contests in 2017-18 before going down with the ACL injury.
It doesn’t help that Porzingis is 7-foot-3 as well. The health records of guys his size aren’t that good.
However, nobody of KP’s size has been as mobile and athletic as he is.
Porzingis is just 24 and hasn’t even sniffed his prime. He has tantalizing upside on both ends of the floor due to his unique mix of size, skill, athleticism, and versatility.
Offensively, Porzingis has the tools to become a matchup nightmare. At 7-foot-3, the Latvian forward can simply shoot over anybody. Likewise, he can stroke it from nearly anywhere on the floor. He also has a deceptively quick first step for a guy his size and can sometimes take his man off the dribble.
On the other side of the ball, his long frame allows him swat away shots with ease. In his first three years in the league, bulkier big men abused him down on the block because of his lanky frame. However, it seems like he’s ready to bang bodies down low as he appears to have added some muscle over the summer.
3. Luka and KP’s Chemistry
Dallas’ success as a team still hinges on whether Doncic and Porzingis can not only co-exist, but actually flourish playing alongside each other.
Seems familiar? Dallas already had this nearly two decades ago when they had Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash. The Mavericks franchise skyrocketed with those two leading the team.
In 2019, the Luka-KP pairing looks good on paper, but we’ll find out how good they’ll actually be when they take the floor together this season. The infrastructure for a potential championship run in the future will be built around Doncic and Porzingis.
Dallas has already secured these two for the long haul. Establishing good chemistry in Year 1 should be a major first step.