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Dallas Mavericks: 3 players who need to step up on defense

Dallas Mavericks, Kristaps Porzingis, Dorian Finney-Smith
Dallas Mavericks, Kristaps Porzingis, Dorian Finney-Smith / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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Dallas Mavericks, Kristaps Porzingis
Dallas Mavericks, Kristaps Porzingis / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Mavericks who need to step up on defense: 1. Kristaps Porzingis

A massive part of the Mavs falling into the bottom ten in defensive rating last season was the decline of KP. Yes, Porzingis still averaged 20.1 points and 8.9 rebounds per game last season, but his blocks dropped from 2.0 to 1.3. He played in just 43 of the 72 regular-season games and struggle when he was on the floor.

The Unicorn’s rim protection numbers dropped dramatically. In 2019-2020, he rated 13th in the NBA in the differential between field goal percentage within six feet at minus-11.1, but the stats dropped to just minus-3.3 last season. Pick a metric, KP was worse on the defensive end of the floor last season. He was just coming off knee surgery and missed the first nine regular-season games. There are a lot of reasons behind why KP struggled with his lateral mobility, but it showed up most in his rim-protecting.

If Porzingis cannot protect the rim, he becomes a significant negative on the defensive end of the floor. The Unicorn struggles to guard on the perimeter and has to play in the paint, so they need production in that area. Kristaps Porzingis needs to step up on defense this season if the Dallas Mavericks are going to become even a league-average defense. The top ten is the mark for title contenders, but it won’t be possible without KP protecting the rim.

Next. How Jason Kidd will unlock Kristaps Porzingis. dark

Dallas Mavericks supporters should be watching closely to see what changes Jason Kidd is making on the defensive end of the floor. Expect the Hall of Famer to have a few tricks up his sleeve, but fans will get an idea of the plan during the preseason, so do not miss it.