When you have one of the tallest players in the NBA, one with a rare skill set of inside and outside capabilities, it makes sense to maximize his assets.
Jason Kidd already has hinted that he will try to do things a little differently with Kristaps Porzingis this season, which is why he will be central to the play of the Mavericks’ big men and the team overall..
Will we see the thin 7-3 Latvian on the low block all the time? Of course not. That would be a disservice to him and to the team.
But the sharpshooting big man might become just a little more acquainted with the paint than he has been the last couple of seasons.
One of the reasons that the Mavericks are excited about this prospect is the offseason that Porzingis has had.
“This is going to be the first season with the Dallas Mavericks where he’s coming in healthy,” owner Mark Cuban said. “He’s able to work on other things – other than just rehab – to get his body ready, get stronger, work on his game.
“Now he’s going to have a chance to have some continuity and that’s something he has not had effectively since he was a rookie.”
Kidd has already taken time to visit with Porzingis in Latvia and no doubt had some conversations about how best to utilize Porzingis’ ample talents.
Here’s what we know: Porzingis has averaged 20.3 points and 9.2 rebounds in two seasons with the Mavericks.
He has played 100 out of a possible 147 regular-season games. In the playoffs, he has played 10 games, was sensational in 2020 at the bubble before getting injured and did not put up good numbers in June in the seven-game loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
In that series, Rick Carlisle asked Porzingis to do some things that didn’t show up in the box score. Cuban has steadfastly said that Porzingis did his job and did it well in the series.
At any rate, he did not shoot the 3-pointer well (29.6 percent) and averaged only 13 points.
It will be up to Kidd to get the maximum output out of Porzingis and all of the Mavericks.
Said Cuban of Porzingis’ outlook: “What J-Kidd and Nico (Harrison) have planned, I think him and Luka are going to be a lot better together and I think you’re going to see a lot of things that are going to make us far better as a team.”
Kidd won’t show too many cards until he has to. But he made it clear that making everybody on the roster better is going to be a big piece of the puzzle if the Mavericks are going to get better.
“We’re here to help develop (guys),” Kidd said. “Everybody has to do their part and it starts with hard work.
“This is a positive summer for KP. He’s healthy. This isn’t a time when he’s coming off of injury. I think he’s really excited about this opportunity. He’s a perfect fit for Luka. He has a skill set that a lot of people don’t have in this league.”
As for the remainder of the Mavericks’ big men, it’s a fairly familiar cast with Dwight Powell, Maxi Kleber, Willie Cauley-Stein and Boban Marjanović. The lone newcomer will be 7-2 Moses Brown, who is young but has shown loads of potential.
Here’s a look at the big men that Kidd will have at his disposal at center and power forward:
Kristaps Porzingis: 7-3, entering his seventh season; averaged 20.1 points and 8.9 rebounds last season. What to look for: He’s still a matchup nightmare for opponents because of his shooting from deep. What will be interesting is to see how much time he spends around the basket – at both ends of the floor.
Maxi Kleber: 6-10, entering his fifth season; averaged 7.1 points and 5.2 rebounds last season. What to look for: It was sort of a lost season for him as he battled COVID 19 and assorted aches and pains. His health restored, expect to see even more 3-point shooting (77 percent of his shots were from beyond the arc last season) and the same no-quit defensive attitude.
Dwight Powell; 6-10, entering his eighth season; averaged 5.9 points and 4 rebounds last season. What to look for: He played last season after returning from a ruptured Achilles and never was himself. The Mavericks will welcome back his relentless energy and aggressive play off the pick and rolls.
Willie Cauley-Stein; 7-0, entering his fifth season; averaged 5.3 points and 4.5 rebounds last season. What to look for: He’s settled in as a serviceable backup center who is able to do a little bit of everything inside 15 feet. He’s an excellent insurance policy at a reasonable price ($4-million).
Boban Marjanović; 7-4, entering his seventh season; averaged 4.7 points and 3.9 rebounds last season. What to look for: The expectation is that Boban will continue to be incredibly productive per minute played. And it’s not always diminishing returns when he plays bigger minutes. In the right matchup, he can be a heavy lifter.
Moses Brown; 7-2, entering his third season; averaged 8.6 points and 8.9 rebounds last season for Oklahoma City. What to look for: Had some massive games late last season. Can he do that on a regular basis? His development will be one of the intriguing storylines of Jason Kidd’s first season.