By Jahmal Corner
DALLAS (Reuters) – Luka Doncic, the Dallas Mavericks’ brilliant young standout, was surrounded by reporters and in the middle of postgame comments when it was announced that team mate Kristaps Porzingis was also available for questions.
Suddenly, the flock that hovered around Doncic was split between the two players.
For the giant Porzingis is on the kind of tear that is turning the Mavericks’ one-man showcase into a considerable double act, one that is swiftly improving the team’s prospects as a future NBA challenger.
The Mavericks have always been more than the Doncic show, but following an erratic start to the season, Latvian Porzingis, one of the NBA’s tallest players, is beginning to remind the world that he is a worthy co-star.
“I always try to stay confident in my ability. I’ve never really doubted myself on the court, but when things are not clicking you start to tense up a little bit,” Porzingis told Reuters following the Mavericks’ 121-96 win over Memphis on Friday.
“It took me time to figure some things out. I feel really comfortable out there now, it feels in the rhythm of the game. I know where my jump shots are going to come from and when I can be aggressive. It feels more simple and natural.”
The numbers confirm the good vibes Porzingis is feeling. Heading into Sunday’s game against Indiana, he is averaging 32.7 points, 12 rebounds and 4.7 blocks over three games this month.Things really began to turn for him in February. Dallas shifted the big man from power forward to center, after an injury to Dwight Powell, and Porzingis went from spot up shooting to a more diverse role in the offense.
His field goal attempts and efficiency shot up, as did his stock as a consistent standout for potential contenders.
“I think he’s playing at a high level, he’s finding his spots in the offense where he can pick and choose to be aggressive,” said Dallas guard Courtney Lee who played with Porzingis during his peak days with the New York Knicks.”When he was in New York, compared to this last month, I think his numbers are better here.”
The slow start for Porzingis should have been expected this year given all the factors against him.
He was coming off an 18-month layoff following an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in 2018 that shelved him for a year and a half and he was debuting for his new Dallas team following his trade from the Knicks while sidelined last year.
“It was a lot of things — coming off the injury, new system, coach, teammates, new city, new everything. It was definitely not easy,” Porzingis said.
“But right now, what we’re doing and how I’m playing, it’s been great. It gives me more hunger and motivation to get better and to keep this up.”
Dallas (39-25) is in the thick of the Western Conference race, ranking first in NBA offensive rating and unofficially near the top when assessing the league’s most promising young tandems.”I’m 24, I have so much room to grow as a player, physically, mentally, and skill wise,” Porzingis said. “I feel like I have so much more room to grow.”
From a man who stands 7 foot 3 inches tall and whose stature improves by the match, that can only spell big news for the Mavericks.
(Reporting by Jahmal Corner in Dallas; Editing by Ian Chadband)