Mac Engel

The Mavericks can change basketball for the better with their new Super Euro Duo

Dallas Mavericks: Kristaps Porzingis’ introductory press conference

Kristaps Porzingis' introductory press conference with Dallas Mavericks featured Rick Carlisle, Mark Cuban, Donnie Nelson, as well as the other players Dallas traded the New York Knicks for, Courtney Lee, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke.
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Kristaps Porzingis' introductory press conference with Dallas Mavericks featured Rick Carlisle, Mark Cuban, Donnie Nelson, as well as the other players Dallas traded the New York Knicks for, Courtney Lee, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke.

The Golden State Warriors have defined an era of basketball, and the Dallas Mavericks can potentially do the same for the next generation.

Basketball benefits if this latest Mavs move nets a title.

No one has faith in the Euros more than Dallas Mavericks GM Donnie Nelson, and he is building a team that can potentially transform the way the entire game is played, and specifically how Euro ball eventually affects basketball in the United States.

This has nothing to do with race. This has everything to do with the emphasis, and the honing of, skill.

As we have seen with Dirk Nowitzki, and too many other to count, Euros can ball and America should embrace their style while scraping the AAU 1-on-5 trash that focuses on the God-given ability of the player rather than enhancing the kid’s skill.

The acquisitions of guard Luka Doncic during the 2018 NBA draft, and now the heist of center Kristaps Porzingis in a trade with the New York Knicks, potentially could do to basketball what the Warriors did during this dynasty run.

“I get excited every time I think about it,” Porzingis said Monday about the prospect of playing with Doncic. “I think we can really be something special.”

If the Mavs win big, others will follow.

Basketball, the entire sport, needs this duo to work.

MAVS OF THE FUTURE

At a minimum, Mavs owner Mark Cuban’s vision to rebuild his franchise finally has pieces on which to build, and to attract legit players to complement The Luka and Porzingod.

“It sure beats the train that was coming our way the last few years,” Cuban said Monday at the introductory press conference for KP, and the three other players acquired from the Knicks, Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke and Courtney Lee.

“We think it’s a foundation. We’ve gotten younger. We got more athletic. I think we are well positioned, but we have to play the games. We have to get KP healthy. But I have a different feel about everything than 18 months ago.”

KP, who had surgery last Feb. to repair a torn ACL, is not coming back this season. Even if he could, he’s not. The Mavs are not going to risk him just to make a playoff spot that is too far out to reach.

Cuban said Monday he plans to work out a long-term deal with KP, who can be a restricted free agent this summer.

The team still has to acquire some other players; expect them to pursue Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic in the offseason. There will be others, too.

Finally, Cuban has players that other good players will want to play with. Players want to go to places where they can win.

Case in point: New Orleans Pelicans center Anthony Davis, per ESPN, has listed Milwaukee as a desired destination to be traded along with Los Angeles. No sane human wants to live in Milwaukee more than L.A. in the winter, but AD does because the Bucks have Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The same logic should work with a lineup that features Luka and KP.

A lineup with Porzingis and Luka changes the Mavs, and could the entire sport. These are big people with little-people skills, specifically when it comes to shooting, dribbling and passing. You know ... basketball.

CHANGING THE GAME

The Golden State Warriors feature two players who have changed basketball: Steph Curry has made the 3-pointer a layup, and Kevin Durant is a power forward with a shooting guard’s game.

Combined with the NBA’s more strict approach to officiating the game, and the increased emphasis on the 3-point shot, players like this are thriving and scoring is up.

Much like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James copied Michael Jordan, kids now try to be Steph and Durant.

The Warriors’ lineup is no longer anchored around five people who fit five conventional slots; rather, it’s more free flowing, much like the San Antonio Spurs, only multiple players can play multiple positions because their skill set encourages it.

Much has to happen, of course, but if the Mavs win with Luka and Porzingis they will be the standard, and they will be copied. There will not be another option.

“I see two guys who are going to put their own signatures on their positions,” Donnie Nelson said. “I didn’t think when we drafted Dirk, he was Larry Bird. I don’t think (KP) is Dirk. He’s going to put his own signature and have his own identity. He’s going to transform a couple of positions. I think that is already happening with Luka. This is one of the most exciting times I’ve ever been a part of in having two players of their caliber for our fans to watch.”

The emphasis on skill overseas has shown the foreign game can play well in the U.S. It did for Dirk, and Manu Ginobili, among others.

The American player is better; international competition has shown that fact repeatedly. What would be nice is if the American player embraces what has made the Euro player competitive in the U.S. to make the American kid even better.

Everything about Luka says the Mavs have their guy; had Porzingis just not justifiably hated the Knicks so much, they would have their guy, too.

Now this Euro dream is the Mavs’ team. As a basketball fan, the Mavericks have two guys who could make this franchise one of the most entertaining in the NBA.

These guys can win the Mavs a title, and change their sport, too.

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Mac Engel is an award-winning columnist who has extensive experience covering Fort Worth-Dallas area sports for 20 years. He has covered high schools, colleges, all four major sports teams as well as Olympic games and the world of entertainment, too. He combines dry wit with first-person reporting to complement a head of hair that is almost unfair.


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