Kristaps Porzingis Reveals Reason for Failed Mavericks Partnership with Luka Doncic

Luka Doncic Dallas Mavericks

Getty Luka Doncic #77 and Kristaps Porzingis.

As good as Luka Doncic is, not every single NBA player is a good fit alongside him. Unfortunately, the Dallas Mavericks didn’t know that when they traded for him in January 2019. Porzingis was once upon a time a heralded “unicorn” — in a class with Giannis Antetokoumpo, Nikola Jokic, and Joel Embiid — big men who also thrived in open space and brought more than just rim-running and paint protection.

In Dallas however, Porzingis was more boogeyman than unicorn. His fit with Doncic was messy, proving that not everyone could play next to the Slovenian superstar. Porzingis’ fit in Dallas got so clunky, the team traded him to the Washington Wizards for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans back in February.

In a recent interview with Jake Fischer of Yahoo! Sports, Porzingis revealed what went wrong in Dallas, summing it up quite succinctly.

“Luka is a generational talent. You have to put the perfect team around him to try to get the maximum out of him, you know?” Porzingis said. “I just wasn’t the right guy.”

Porzingis and Doncic Were an Awkward Fit with Mavericks

Porzingis is absolutely correct that he wasn’t the right guy to pair with Doncic. When the two were on the floor together last season, the Mavericks posted an ice-cold minus-0.7 point differential. Compare that to Dallas’ general net rating of plus-3.8, and it’s plain to see something about the partnership was just plain off.

In theory, Porzingis could have been used in a way similar to what Dallas is getting out of Christian Wood this season. The only problem? The Mavericks left Porzingis alone in the corner on offense, essentially to keep him warm for a Doncic drive-and-kick.

But not all of that is Dallas’ fault. Unlike Wood, who is a fairly mobile big, Porzingis’ mobility was robbed after injuries to his ACL and knees. Unable to move like he once could, it only made sense to limit the amount of effort Porzingis had to exert on the offensive end. In the end, that mobility is what drew the Mavs to Porzingis in the first place and the lack thereof is what forced him out of town just two years later.

The trade also worked out well enough for Dallas. Spencer Dinwiddie became the team’s second ballhandler after Jalen Brunson departed over the summer, alleviating some (though not enough) pressure on Doncic. And Hardaway, a holdover from the first Porzingis trade, is on a hot streak over the last four games, canning over 51 percent of his 11.8 threes attempted per game.

A Happy Ending for Porzingis in Washington

Fortunately, though, Porzingis has found a second wind in Washington. He’s shooting as well as he did in his first season in Dallas and his points-per-game output is the highest since his pre-ACL injury back in 2017. And to his credit, Porzingis sounds like he wants to stay in the District long-term.

“One hundred percent. One hundred percent. I love the city. I love the organization. People around the organization.”

In Porzingis, the Mavs likely hoped to finally find an All-Star mate with Luka Doncic. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out quite that way. So the quest to find Doncic an elite (and properly fitting) co-star continues. Maybe it’s Zach LaVine? One can hope, right?

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