The Dallas Mavericks have a roster that is talented enough to be one of the best teams in the entire NBA. However, they’ve had quite a few injuries early in the season that have somewhat held them back.
Kristaps Porzingis, who’s had a history of sitting out games due to injury, has missed five consecutive games with a lower back issue.
To make things worse, Maxi Kleber is now slated to miss the next 7-10 days, as first announced by Jason Kidd on Tuesday before a game against the Miami Heat. What was originally a back strain suffered on Sunday is now an oblique strain for Kleber, who’s a key player for the Mavs.
Dallas does have quite a few bigs in the rotation who will now play more minutes, but they’re different types of players that lack the versatility Porzingis and Kleber provide.
On Tuesday night, the Mavs fell to 4-3 on the season after a loss to the Heat. The lack of forward depth was felt, as the Heat won the battle on both the boards and points in the paint.
How does the absence of these two forwards affect the Mavericks?
Missing the Unicorn
Porzingis is one of the most unique players in the NBA. Standing at 7-foot-3, he’s nearly always the tallest player on the court, but has the ability to stretch the floor and knock down deep 3s.
With that size, he brings versatility on both ends of the floor. Porzingis is able to play both power forward and center. While he’s not longer the defender he once was, he’s still disruptive around the rim.
The Mavericks have been solid without him over the past five games in most aspects, but have struggled on the boards. They were a top-five rebounding team with him in the lineup, but are a bottom five team without him to this point.
Kidd is hopeful that Porzingis will be available on Wednesday against the San Antonio Spurs, but nothing is official. After a walkthrough yesterday, Porzingis rested against Miami on Tuesday.
The Mavs will never reach their ceiling this season without a healthy Porzingis.
Kleber Makes it Worse
After getting hurt over the weekend, Kleber will be yet another player the Mavericks are without. Including Tuesday’s game against the Heat, this 7-10 day window of recover means he will miss anywhere between four and six games at minimum.
While he’s not the star-level player Porzingis is, he’s a key role player.
Kleber is a rare 3-and-D big, serving the role of being one of the best defenders and 3-point shooter on the roster. In fact, he’s the best 3-point shooter on the team to this point in the season (47.8% on 3.8 attempts) and also is second on the team with 1.2 blocks per contest. Kleber has already notched a game this season with six blocks, showing just how impactful he is.
Overall, the 29-year-old is averaging 7.2 points and 5.3 rebounds in just 18.8 minutes per game. An efficient contributor, he’ll truly be missed.
Hopefully for the Mavericks, Porzingis is truly able to come back soon to help in the absence of Kleber over the next week or so. That would make the loss feel much less detrimental if they’re able to get at least some depth back.