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Porziņģis: The Unicorn

When Kristaps Porziņģis was drafted to the New York Knicks in 2015, he was confident in his game. He was the first option, he understood the magnitude of his role, and the pressure of playing in the fickle city of New York; he relished the challenge and stepped up to the plate. No matter what adversity he faced while playing for the Knicks his confidence never seemed to waiver. He lived up to the hype until his injury in February of 2018, and the unfortunate clash of chemistry he had with then coach Phil Jackson.

The Transition

Porziņģis was traded to the Dallas Mavericks in January of 2019, by then Luca Dončić had already made his mark with Dallas solidifying his role as the first option. Porziņģis respectfully took a step back which was admirable, but when opportunities have presented themselves to take over games, when both he and Dončić’are on the floor, he seems hesitant to take the initiative, not quite as aggressive as he was in New York. Almost as though he’s afraid he might step on Dončić’ shoes. Sure, most plays are designed with Dončić’ in mind as coach Carlisle has stated in the past, but Porziņģis needs to learn how to insert himself when the need arises whether Dončić is in the game or not.

Porziņģis is a true leader, but he still fits well playing alongside Dončić. He has established himself with Dallas and has built the necessary rapport with his teammates, I think he can be assertive when necessary without feeling like he is disrespecting any one player.

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PPG New York vs Dallas

In the three seasons Porziņģis played with the NY Knicks he averaged 18 ppg, since joining the Dallas Mavericks his regular season average is 16 ppg with Dončić’ on the floor and 27.2 ppg without.

Although Porziņģis did not play his first game with Dallas until October due to an ACL injury he incurred during his time with the NY Knicks, you can clearly see the difference in his performance when he’s not holding back, and focusing on trying not to upstage Dončić. You don’t see Klay Thompson pulling back when Steph Curry is on the floor, if anything they fuel each other. Porziņģis is such an all-around complete player why would you want to contain a weapon like that in your arsenal and not use it?

The Road to Recovery and His Future with Dallas

Porziņģis ended the 2019-2020 season with yet another injury suffering a lateral meniscus tear on his right knee, depending on the grade he may need surgery. Injuries have plagued a large portion of his career thus far, the woes big men are all to familiar with, cutting careers short for some of the most talented bigs such as Yao Ming and Greg Oden.

Obviously Porziņģis’ health plays a key role in his future success, but what about his future with Dallas? Porziņģis re-signed a 5-year $158 million contract with the Mavericks last year nixing any discussion on becoming an unrestricted free agent any time soon. The Mavericks know what they got. Both he and Dončić were able to get Dallas back to the playoffs after a 3-year drought with help from Tim Hardaway Jr.. Porziņģis needs to take a page from Russell Westbrooks playbook and turn on beast mode, stop tip toeing around Dončić when playing alongside him so they can become that deadly one two punch they were destined to be.

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