Kristaps Porzingis’ health will surely be the biggest factor in the Dallas Mavericks’ pursuit of elite status this season.
The Mavericks’ ability to become an elite contender in the West lies on Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. (Photo by Glenn James/NBAE)
The Mavericks weren’t able to pursue a third star like they wanted to, but they sure made some under-the-radar moves that should fill out the team’s needs. They are still below the top-tier teams in the West, which should be composed of the Lakers, Clippers, and the Nuggets. But with another MVP-caliber season from main star Luka Doncic, it’s not impossible for Dallas to break through and come up with a homecourt advantage at least in the first round of the playoffs.
As the 2020-21 season begins in a few days, let’s take a quick look at the top storylines surrounding the Mavericks’ upcoming campaign.
Kristaps Porzingis will be entering his second year with the Mavericks. (Photo via Bleacher Report)
Can Porzingis stay healthy this time around?
Porzingis’ ability to stay healthy (or inability) should dictate the level of success that the Mavericks can attain. In Game 1 of the team’s first-round series match-up against the Clippers last playoffs, Porzingis only played 19 minutes before he got ejected. Then he put up 23 and 34 points in Games 2 and 3, establishing himself as an unstoppable force on offense.
But the 7-foot-3 center sustained an injury that forced him to sit out the rest of the series. This has been a recurring theme of Porzingis’ journey in the NBA as injuries have been hindering him from helping his team win. His ability to be score from the inside and from the outside makes him a perfect partner for Luka’s incredible playmaking, but that won’t be possible to see if Porzingis again fails to stay healthy next season.
Josh Richardson is teaming up with Luka in the Mavs’ backcourt. (Photo by Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports)
How would the Mavericks’ new additions fare?
There won’t be a third star in Dallas just yet, but the team did a tremendous job filling out the holes in the roster. The Josh Richardson acquisition is one of the most underrated moves this offseason, and he gives the Mavericks a capable defender and a good secondary playmaker. James Johnson doesn’t only provide toughness and grit. He is no slouch on defense, and he rarely makes the wrong decisions on offense.
The Mavericks are obviously a more complete squad next season. Dwight Powell is also returning to bolster the frontcourt, and Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke and Dorian Finney-Smith will again see significant minutes in the rotation.
Luka Doncic attempting a jumper over Jrue Holiday of Milwaukee. (Photo via SB Nation)
All eyes on Luka’s third season
Luka is the favorite to win the MVP plum this season, and he’s only 21 years of age. It’s almost unfathomable how much room for improvement he still has, considering that he is coming off an All-NBA First Team season in which he averaged eye-popping numbers of 28.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists per contest.
Just like in the case of Porzingis, Doncic’s health is of utmost value for Dallas. I don’t see the Mavs coaching staff putting him in a load management scenario as the team just doesn’t have enough firepower to fill in for his absence. So Dallas fans will have their fingers crossed for an injury-free year from Luka.