What to make of Kristaps Porzingis through his first seven games with the Mavs
The Dallas Mavericks are off to a great start to the 2019-20 season. They have posted a 5-2 record and Luka Dončić has looked every bit of the part of an MVP candidate. Plus their bench unit produced elite production as well.
What appears to be the next step for the Mavs will be to receive closer to All-Star production from Kristaps Porziņģis. He has averaged 19 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks and while that’s great on paper, his production has slowed since a hot initial few games.
The first three games of the season for Porziņģis featured an impressive average of 26.3 points on 40.9% shooting from three-point range and 2.7 blocks per game. He even managed to record 32 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists against the Portland Trail Blazers during that stretch.
A flat performance against the Denver Nuggets that ended with a struggling 10 points (28.6% FG, 12.5% 3P, 100% FT) carried over into struggles during the month of November. He has been held below 20 points scoring in each of his three performances so far this month and is coming off a display against the Orlando Magic with just 10 points (28.6% FG, 20% 3P, 50% FT).
After a disappointing performance against the Magic, Porziņģis shared with the media that he is ‘frustrated’ with his poor recent play and that he’s ‘just not there yet.’
“Yeah, my stamina and cardio is getting better. I just want to play well. I just want to play well, win games and show what I know I’m capable of,” Porziņģis said, via Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth-Star Telegram. “Right now, I’m just, I’m not there yet. I’m not there yet, and it’s really frustrating. But the only thing I can do is look forward now. This game is past us, I’m happy that we were able to get the win with me playing as awful as I did. On to the next one. I want to figure this thing out.
Once I get back to where I want to get back, it will feel even better going through this (personal struggles) right now. I just want to figure this out as soon as possible, but I have to give myself time and not make it simple for myself.”
The Mavs have found success at times with involving Porziņģis within their half-court offense in the pick-and-pop and as a cutter. However, he has genuinely struggled to convert as a catch-and-shoot threat in spot-up situations. That’s the main area that will need to improve considering how Dončić can create opportunities either directly or through generating ball movement.
A key factor in Porziņģis' offensive struggles has been his inability to find success on catch-and-shoot spot-up jumpers.
He is shooting 5-of-18 (27.8%) on these particular attempts to start the season. It's difficult to envision him not finding a rhythm if he keeps shooting. pic.twitter.com/lnlyfCLc98
— Dallas Mavs Coverage (@MavsCoverage) November 7, 2019
The Mavs haven’t used much as a roll man and that could be partly due to the fact that he’s still adjusting to being effective through contact. However, when they have featured him in areas such as coming off screens or posting up, his execution has been poor.
Coming off screens hasn't resulted in success for Porziņģis either. He is producing just 0.579 points per possession (12th) in off-screen plays through 7 games.
The catch-and-shoot attempts haven't been falling and he has come up empty at times when putting it on the floor. pic.twitter.com/68HA1uXWSa
— Dallas Mavs Coverage (@MavsCoverage) November 8, 2019
The future for the Mavs and Porziņģis is bright, it will just take time for a player that was sidelined for over a year and a half to establish a rhythm.