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Will Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis lead Dallas back to playoffs?

Luka Doncic

There’s a lot of change happening to the Dallas Mavericks at the moment. Kristaps Porzingis is finally healthy, Dirk Nowitzki is immortalized on the court, and Luka Doncic is looking to build on his incredible rookie season. Things are looking up in the Big D, and their return to playoff basketball is a question of “when” rather than “if”.

However, there’s a question looming above the heads of many Dallas fans? Could they possibly return to the playoffs in their first year without Dirk?

To be honest, everything hinges on the shoulders of Doncic and Porzingis. If they perform to the standards that are expected out of them, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t get the invite to the playoffs.

One of the reasons why they could possibly book a playoff ticket is their preseason performance. The duo showed Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers that they can ball with the best of them.

Kristaps looked especially dangerous on the floor, looking like the Unicorn that many New York Knicks fans once fell in love with. The Latvian big man finished with 18 points, 13 rebounds, and an assist in only 23 minutes of play.

Luka also looked effective on offense, finishing with a similar stat line of 15 points, 13 boards, and three dishes in 25 minutes of action. He even traded fierce barbs with Clippers rookie Terance Mann that certainly livened up the happy Vancouver crowd.

Of course, all preseason games don’t matter, and the stats should be taken with a grain of salt. After all, Paul George didn’t play a minute and Kawhi Leonard was holding back with his play. Everyone knows that nobody takes the preseason seriously (with a special exception to Patrick Beverley).

The real barometer for the Mavericks’ current condition will be their first ten games of the season. They have some interesting matchups coming up that will test their chemistry. The four most important matches during this period are their games against the Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets, and Boston Celtics. If the Mavericks manage to win at least two of these four games, then everyone knows that their talent is for real.

Another important factor for the Mavericks’ success is Kristaps Porzingis. Everyone knows that he’s a terrific player, but he’s yet to play a full season of basketball. He’s prone to injuries on his legs and knees since he’s standing at 7’3″, and Rick Carlisle will most likely control his minutes as he gets used to the speed and intensity of NBA basketball once again. If he gets an average of 25 points, nine rebounds, and 2.5 blocks on 45%/40%/80% shooting splits, then he’s well on his way.

If there’s one thing Mavs Nation can expect, it’s Doncic’s meteoric growth. He already finished the season on a great note, and he’s only bound to get better as he works on his body and becomes a lot craftier with experience. It’s not bad to expect All-Star numbers from the Wonder Boy. If everything goes well, he should average at least 25 points, eight rebounds, and six assists with 48%/40%/85% shooting percentages.

It would be nice to see the Mavericks manage to make the eighth seed and pull off a 2019 Clippers on the West’s top seed. However, it will only put a lot of pressure on the two stars. They’re still to play an entire season together, and chemistry isn’t something that can be immediately sorted out by a training camp or a player-initiated dinner in South Florida.

It’s more likely that the team will barely miss out on playoff basketball and finish tenth in the West. That result shouldn’t break the hearts of Mavs fans, though. It’s still Year One of Dallas’ Euro Duo. They have a long time of success ahead of them. What’s important for Dallas right now is to win slowly but surely.