Dallas Mavericks: Earl Monroe questions Kristaps Porzingis’ role
By Tyler Watts
The Dallas Mavericks are currently seventh in the Western Conference and facing the play-in tournament. They were expecting to be competing for homecourt in the first round of the playoffs, but injuries and COVID issues forced the Mavs to get off to a slow start. Kristaps Porzingis missed the first nine games of the season as he recovered from meniscus surgery. The Mavericks played through as many as five players being out in the health and safety protocols in January too.
Dallas has gone from 8-13 to 30-25. They have been up and down in April, but the team has shown plenty of promise. The Mavs have proven they can compete with any team when healthy. That has not stopped fans from questioning the relationship between the Mavs two stars. Reporters have asked Porzingis about his relationship with Luka Doncic, and he has not shot down the rumors.
Could KP’s issue be with his role in Dallas? Hall of Famer Earl Monroe questioned if the Mavericks are using the Unicorn correctly. Let us take a closer at his tweet and what it could mean going forward.
Earl Monroe questions Kristaps Porzingis’ role with the Dallas Mavericks
As the Mavs faced the New York Knicks on Friday night, the Hall of Fame point guard tweeted out the following.
Save for his All-Star season, Porzingis is producing the best numbers of his career. He averages 20.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks in 31.3 minutes per game this year. KP is shooting a career-high 47.9 percent from the field and 84.7 percent on his free throws. Coach Rick Carlisle and the Mavericks have helped him improve his efficiency and turn the Unicorn into one of the most dangerous stretch fives in the league.
The Mavericks even shifted the minute’s patterns when Porzingis suggested he preferred to play longer stretches. The Unicorn now plays the majority of the first and third quarters before returning to finish both halves. To start the season, Luka was playing that pattern with KP doing shorter stretches to keep one of the Mavericks stars on the floor at all times.
The former Knicks point guard and Hall of Famer may not be wrong, though. Porzingis is getting 37.0 frontcourt touches per game this season. That number was 40.2 during his All-Star season in New York. The Unicorn got 8.0 post ups per game in 2018 with the Knicks, but he is down to 5.4 a night in Dallas. Coach Carlisle and the Mavericks have improved his efficiency, but KP does get the ball less. There are times in the game when the Unicorn disappears in games too.
Fans will be watching closely down the stretch. The Dallas Mavericks are attempting to climb to sixth in the Western Conference to avoid the play-in tournament. They will need both of their star players playing at their peak to close the gap over the final 17 games. The Mavs looked dangerous in the bubble playoffs with KP healthy. Can they find that stride? Stay tuned to find out.