Kristaps Porzingis can protect the rim and enhance the Dallas Mavericks defense
Head coach Jason Kidd brought an emphasis on defense to the Mavs this season. They have had one of the league’s best offenses for two straight years, but the team’s below-average defense has resulted in back-to-back first-round playoff exits.
Dallas’s defense was especially bad with KP on the floor last season. They produced a 115.3 defensive rating when the Unicorn was in the game and 108.4 with him off. Porzingis had offseason meniscus surgery and rushed back to help his team. He did not look to be himself as he struggled to move laterally.
KP is healthy and playing better this season. The Mavericks have a 107.5 defensive rating with the Unicorn on the floor. Porzingis is more mobile, and coach Kidd’s new defensive scheme is a better fit for the team as a whole.
His blocks are back to 1.6 per game, which is an important stat for Dallas. Porzingis is the team’s best rim protector, and they are light in that category when he sits. Seeing KP’s blocks return is massive for the Mavericks' defense, and his ability to protect the rim will be gigantic in the postseason.
Dallas needs him to guard well enough that he can stay on the floor as other teams go small. Kristaps Porzingis appears ready for that challenge when the playoffs roll around.