Dallas Mavericks

In Mavericks’ dream scenario, Porzingis-Doncic duo will be ‘nightmare for other teams’

Kristaps Porzingis thoughtfully considered the question.

The NBA veteran who is preparing for his first season with the Dallas Mavericks, was asked how the combination of he and Luka Doncic might look this season, which begins for the Mavs October 23 against the Washington Wizards.

The preseason begins Tuesday against the Thunder in Oklahoma City.

Instead of predicting instant chemistry and success with Doncic, Porzingis offered a measured, realistic view of the new, post-Dirk Nowitzki Mavericks.

“It’s going to take some time. We’re not going to come on the court and play like we’ve played 10 years together already,” he said. “But I feel like with the type of personalities [we have] and where we come from — we’re both European, we both speak Spanish — all those things are going to help build the chemistry on the floor.”

Make no mistake, Porzingis has high hopes for the Mavs, including a goal of making the playoffs for the first time in since 2016.

Even the typically reserved and low-key coach Rick Carlisle had trouble hiding his excitement.

“They both have a tremendously high level of skill. They complement each other well because Luka’s great with the ball. KP, he can screen and roll, he can screen and pop, he can slip screens and catch and shoot, he shoots from long range, he drives the ball,” he said. “Both of these guys can create problems on their own. When you get them together, we feel like they can create some even bigger problems for opponents.”

Porzingis, who came to the Mavs in a massive, seven-player trade with the New York Knicks last winter, is just happy to be returning to real action. He hasn’t played in a game since a knee injury with the Knicks required surgery in February 2018.

“When you don’t see the finish line it’s very tough mentally to keep pushing yourself every day to get back,” he said of the recovery process. “I’m proud of myself for pushing through the process and doing the work that was needed to be at this point now. I feel like I’ve grown mentally, physically and I’m ready to start the season.”

And the prospect of playing alongside Doncic, who was the NBA’s Rookie of the Year, has the 24-year-old Porzingis dreaming of the possibilities.

“I’m extremely excited about that. I’ve never played with a guy like Luka,” he said. “His vision, his passing ability … he can score and take attention off of his teammates. That’s something I haven’t really had. I can’t wait for us to actually get some NBA minutes on the court to start creating that bond on the court.”

Carlisle already likes what he’s seen of the two playing together in practice since last spring.

“So far, watching them there’s no reason they shouldn’t, they’ve had really good chemistry,” Carlisle said.

This begins a new era for the Mavs, and Carlisle appears renewed and perhaps rejuvenated about the future of his team.

“The last three years have been challenging, but this team that Donnie (Nelson) and Mark (Cuban) and Mike Finley and Keith Grant have put together is exciting on a couple of different levels,” he said. “I feel these two guys will really complement each other well. And I think those guys complement the rest of our group very well and vice versa. There’s a lot to be excited about.”

It might take some time, but Porzingis is confident he and Doncic will eventually build a powerful one-two punch. It doesn’t have to be too complicated, either. The Mavs could get fat on a steady diet of pick and roll with the duo.

“Just knowing how selfless Luka is at sharing the ball with his teammates and making everybody better … I have no doubt that we’ll find that connection sooner than later,” he said. “I think it’s going to be pretty simple, just a two-man game. We’re going to have to read each other, We’re going to have to find that chemistry where he knows when I’m going to pop and when I’m going to roll. We can really mess up team defenses like that. If they want to switch, he can attack the mismatch or I can attack the mismatch. It could be a nightmare for other teams going forward. We just have to develop that chemistry on the floor.”

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Stefan Stevenson has been covering sports for the Star-Telegram since 1997. He spent five years covering TCU athletics, which included two BCS bowls, two trips to the college World Series and the move to the Big 12. He has covered the Texas Rangers since 2014 and started reporting on the Dallas Cowboys in 2016.
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