Dallas Mavericks: Kristaps Porzingis is a top defender by new metric

Dallas Mavericks Kristaps Porzingis (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images)
Dallas Mavericks Kristaps Porzingis (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images) /

Dallas Mavericks forward Kristaps Porzingis ranks as one of the NBA’s best defenders by FiveThirtyEight’s new statistic called DRAYMOND.

Dallas Mavericks fans are patiently awaiting the return of Kristaps Porzingis. The team traded for him in January but quickly announced that Porzingis would not play as he recovered from a torn ACL. Mavs supporters want to see him on the court wearing Dallas across his chest.

They should not worry, though. The front office locked up Zinger to a five-year max contract this offseason. Porzingis has a player option in 2023, but the Mavericks secure at least four seasons with the former All-Star.

Fans are expecting him to be a building block in Dallas. KP has not played since February 2018, but he was nearly unstoppable before his injury.

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Here is his highlight video from the 2017-2018 season to give supporters a glimpse of his on-court chops.

Top defender too

NBA followers remember Porzingis averaging 22.7 points per game and him shooting 39.5 percent on his 3-pointers. They forget that KP is also an outstanding defender. It goes beyond the 2.4 blocks a night as well. He was 39th in the NBA in real plus-minus during the 2017-2018 season.

New metric says KP is better

FiveThirtyEight created a new statistic called DRAYMOND. It uses opponents’ shooting data and other stats in an attempt to improve the way a player’s defense is evaluated. Fans know that is always difficult. There is also no perfect measure that encompasses it.

Since the 2013-2014 season, Kristaps Porzingis rates as the third best defender in the NBA by DRAYMOND. He is behind only Draymond Green and Joel Embiid. Porzingis also lands as the most underrated defender in FiveThirtyEight’s article.

That should not come as a massive surprise. The Knicks rated 16th in the NBA in defensive rating while Porzingis was healthy in the 2017-2018 season. After his injury the team was 29th. Unicorn is a difference maker on both ends of the floor.

It will be interesting to see if the injury impacts KP’s defense next season. The Mavericks will be cautious with one of their stars. Fans should anticipate that the team will manage his workload during the 2019-2020 season. Porzingis has set a tall bar to reach too. Keep an eye on these metrics as the year progresses.

Next. How Kristaps Porzingis can be an All-Star in 2020

Kristaps Porzingis and the Dallas Mavericks will be one of the NBA’s most exciting teams next season. Return to The Smoking Cuban for all the latest analysis, news, and opinions on the squad.