Doncic and Porzingis Have The Potential To Become A Spectacular Duo

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Updated: February 6, 2019
Doncic and porzinges pic

After the blockbuster 7 team trade that went down recently, sending Kristaps Porzingis to the Mavs in exchange for some expiring contracts, a pick, and a bag of ready salted chips, fans are eager to see the new dynamic partnership of Luka and the Unicorn on the court together. Here I’ll just break down how I think a Mavs team might work with these two guys and their other pieces.

So first off let’s just have a look at the current Mavs roster from top to bottom.

Point guards: JJ Barea, Jalen Brunson, Trey Burke.

Shooting Guards: Luka Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr, Devin Harris.

Small Forwards: Harrison Barnes, Courtney Lee, Dorian Finney-Smith.

Power Forwards: Kristaps Porzingis, Dirk Nowitzki, Maxi Kleber, Kostas Antetokounmpo.

Centers: Dwight Powell, Salah Mejri.

So the first five names there in bold is a potential starting line-up. Otherwise, they could go with a smaller line-up which could look like Barea, Hardaway, Doncic, Barnes, Porzingis. This line-up has the potential to be absolutely deadly on offense. JJ Barea has long been one of the most underrated point guards in the league. His unselfish play will allow Luka Doncic to be the primary ball handler and facilitator, where he can look for Barnes and Hardaway to knock down corner 3s off the Doncic-Porzingis pick and roll plays.

The pick and roll offensive action is the most exciting prospect for the new euro partnership to exploit. Specifically, the pick and pop where Porzingis can pop to the 3 point line. He is one of the best at this and often creates a lot of space to knock down a 3 when his defender focuses too much on the ball handler. In the 48 games he played last season, Kristaps was firing at a 39.5% clip from downtown. That is elite level shooting for someone with his height and length. So pick and pop scenarios involving Porzingis are dangerous because of Porzingis range and sometimes you can expect him to roll to the basket too, where he can catch lobs or use the play to establish good post position, in which he is very adept at finishing from post-up situations. So defences are going to need to pay a lot of attention to Kristaps which will free up even more room for Luka to operate in. Luka can either drive thru the lane and score with his variety of floaters and crafty around the rim finishes or he can use his top tier vision to find teammates in the corners when the weak side defenders helps off too much. This is exactly the sort of shots you’d love if your name is Tim Hardaway Jr, Harrison Barnes or Courtney Lee. If Porzingis gets the pocket pass off the short roll, then he is a very able passer of the ball too, and as the defense inevitably collapses on him, he can kick it out to those shooters with ease.

The most interesting play that I think Rick Carlisle should think about running is the ‘Spain pick and roll’. It is basically a regular pick and roll, but another player screens the screeners man and then pops out to the 3 point line. It has only been around for a couple of years in the NBA although teams are using it increasingly to create confusion and take advantage of all the switching on defense. So as for the Mavs, I would have Luka handling the ball, Porzingis setting the first screen and then Tim Hardaway Jr or Harrison Barnes setting the second screen and then popping out. I’d also have a shooter in each corner. This would create havoc for the defense as they would be sticking tight to the shooter obviously and not likely switch and the shooter’s screen would give Porzingis a step on his defender, which would leave Doncic’s defender with the impossible decision of whether to go with Porzingis and sag off Luka, or go with Luka and leave Porzingis to roll and let the weak side defender help which then could easily give up a corner 3. That would be a horrific play to defend. The other option, of course, would be to have Barea or Brunson run the point and have Doncic be the second screener just to mix things up and to ensure that the corners are filled with good shooters.

Lastly, a quick word about how this team would work defensively. Porzingis has gotten a lot better at protecting the paint, and hopefully, as he gains more weight he’ll be even more of a physical presence in there to deter opponents from driving in. In a line-up where he is the PF, I think Rick Carlisle would be wise to play a lot of zone (which he does anyway), to hide Porzingis as his slow foot speed will probably mean he gets beat a lot of the time by quicker players on the perimeter. Losing Jordan will certainly hurt them defensively but I think that by playing Porzingis at the center position as much as possible, he should be able to contribute positively on the defensive end. Luka and JJ Barea are both average defenders too, and along with Hardaway Jr as well, which means they may struggle to defend the perimeter.

This offseason it is imperative that the Mavs sign some guys who can defend the perimeter. They don’t have a load of cap space so it’ll need to be some people they can get for cheap or via trade. Some potential players who I think could help them are: Kent Bazemore (via trade), Marcus Morris (FA), Luc Mbah a Moute (FA), Patrick Beverley (FA), Avery Bradley (via trade), Justice Winslow (via trade), Danny Green (FA).

All the above guys would help improve their perimeter defense significantly and plenty of those guys would also give them a couple more reliable shooting options for Luka to kick out to on offense. Justice Winslow is the pick of the bunch though. I don’t think Miami would be willing to part with him for nothing, but if the Mavs could put together a tasty offer then the Heat may just bite.

With just a couple of additions and a few years of development from the 2 stars, I think Dallas could be next in line for a huge NBA dynasty that could see them potentially compete to win at least one or two championships in the near future.

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