Kristaps Porzingis on His Comfortability with the Mavericks: ‘You Enjoy the Game Much More’
Kristaps Porzingis’s tenure with the Dallas Mavericks has come with some mixed results. There are many reasons behind this, such as injuries, accepting a new role, or seemingly having a chemistry issue with co-star Luka Doncic.
Per NBA.com, Porzingis says he feels great about his health, is excited about playing for new head coach Jason Kidd, and is confident he can play well with Doncic.
“I just work my ass off,” Porzingis said. “I work really, really hard. Whenever you start to feel good on a court and start to feel healthy, it brings out the joy in you again. You enjoy the game much more.”
The first thing to address is the trade rumors that persisted after consecutive first-round playoff exits. Because of the 7’3 big man’s persistent injury struggles and mixed play, his name was reportedly in trade talks, and it looked like the Mavericks were shopping him around.
However, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says that Porzingis “is the unicorn and he’s doing more and more unicorn things” while denying that trade talks ever happened and suggesting that Porzingis is “playing at an All-Star level.”
Secondly, Porzingis and Cuban were candid about the former All-Star’s health, something Porzingis is aware he must maintain to live up to his four-year max extension.
He missed the entire 2018-2019 season recovering knee surgery for a torn ACL, missed 18 games for various injuries, mostly in his knees during the 2019-2020 season, and he missed nine games recovering from surgery on his right knee and then 17 more dealing with injuries on that knee as well as on his back, ankle, and wrist during the 2020-2021 season.
As a result, Porzingiz says he devoted this past offseason to “a lot of physical work” to help regain his balance, shooting touch, and ability to attack the rim at his height and size. Although he was not specific about what that consisted of, Porzingis says since missing five games with a back injury, Porzingis claims he feels fully healthy with no limitations. In the last eight games, he has averaged 23.1 points on 50.4% shooting, along with 9.1 rebounds.
“I feel like my body has matured,” Porzingis said per NBA.com. “I feel strong on the court. It’s translating into my game.”
Third, Porzingis admitted to NBA.com that he didn’t feel comfortable with his role under former head coach Rick Carlisle, who declined to use Porzingis in post-ups and instead wanted to use his deep shooting to space the floor. Now, Porzingis says he feels more comfortable around Kidd, who relates better to players and has been more collaborative and willing to communicate with players.
“My teammates have been trusting me,” Porzingis said. “The coaching staff is trusting me and putting me in my most comfortable situations.”
Finally, regarding his relationship with Doncic, Porzingis says the two have made a significant step toward building chemistry and are communicating more to develop their relationship. Porzingis says he enjoys playing Doncic, who “makes the game easier for everybody” and “he does take a lot of the attention off everybody.”
“You just have to do it. Somebody has to take the first step,” Porzingis told NBA.com. “It’s all in the communication. It’s as simple as that. Problems arise when you don’t communicate about things and you don’t talk about it. So, we’re learning those things.”
Doncic is questionable Tuesday for the Mavs (9-7) game against the Clippers (10-7).