Kristaps Porzingis has the skillset to elevate the Dallas Mavericks to a new level in the 2021-22 season. After a disappointing end to the recent playoffs, the 7-footer began to receive criticism for his poor performance down the stretch.
Porzingis heard the critics all summer, but used it as fuel over the past few months in effort to develop and get better. Rather than being down on himself, he used it as motivation in each and every workout.
“It was an easy summer for me. I did a lot of hard work, but it was easy for me to fuel from all of the noise from last season,” said Porzingis at media day.
Porzingis averaged just 13.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game while shooting 26.9% from deep in the postseason. As a maximum contract player and the secondary star of the Mavericks, this was simply unacceptable.
A New Role
With a new coach and revamped front office, Porzingis knows his role could look different this season. At media day, he continued to emphasize that there has been a great amount of communication between him and new coach Jason Kidd since he joined the team.
So what will Porzingis’ role be this season?
“I wanna do what’s best for the team. But I also want to be utilized in a way that can help the team,” said Porzingis.
He would go on to give additional insight into what that might look like more specifically. For starters, it appears he could be used more heavily in post up situations, rather than spending the majority of his time on the perimeter. At 7-foot-3, he’s typically the tallest player on the floor at any given time, meaning Dallas could utilize that advantage in the paint more often this season.
Additionally, Kidd mentioned that Porzingis will play quite a bit of center this season, but will likely start at power forward on opening night.
The Mavericks have struggled on defense the past two seasons, with Porzingis being someone who can turn that around going forward. He recognizes that he has the potential to impact winning in a major way on that end of the floor.
“I wasn’t doing what I was capable of on the defensive end. I want to take that step forward again. I want to show my best basketball in all aspects,” said Porzingis of his defensive ability.
Again, being the tallest player on the floor has its advantages, but Porzingis will need to leverage his height on that end of the floor. He’s been injured off and on the entire time he has been in Dallas, but will enter the 2021-22 season fully healthy for the first time since he was a member of the New York Knicks.
While Porzingis had a rough start to the 2020-21 season, he’s ready to take on the upcoming season with a blank canvas.
“I wasn’t happy after how it ended. But I understood that it’s just part of the journey. You have ups and downs and I didn’t want to feel like the victim. Here we are, another season. It feels right,” said Porzingis as he reflected back on Dallas’ disappointing postseason exit.
With that in mind, it’s a brand new season with a new coaching staff and updated front office. Porzingis has the right mindset heading into the season, as he looks to have a bounce-back year.