Porzingis' knees and the future of the 'Doncic project'

The injury to Latvian, with a troubled history on his knees, a storm cloud for some Mavs who are building an unbeatable-looking project.


Kristaps Porzingis will no longer play in these playoffs. A stretch that could be a game (tomorrow) for the Mavericks, who lose 3-2 to the mighty Clippers and are therefore one defeat away from leaving the bubble and returning to Dallas. The days without games due to the boycott initiated by the Milwaukee Bucks will have helped Luka Doncic recover from his sprained ankle, with which he played two games in the series, but they were not enough for Porzingis to return: on the contrary, what they were some discomfort in the right knee turned into a tear in the meniscus. Doncic is left very alone, needing two successive miracles of height, without the Latvian power forward, whom he acted in the fourth game to equalize the series at 2. It is difficult to bet on the Texan team, of course, as much as with Doncic (and Carlisle) in the middle everything seems possible.

Porzingis acknowledged that they had noticed "something strange" in his right knee in the first game of the series, in which he was also sent off when his team was ahead on the scoreboard, already in the second half. He played second and third and, his first playoff experience, he averaged 23.7 points and 8.7 rebounds. He came from a regular season in which he has played 57 games with averages of 20.4 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2 blocks. The Latvian has been, Doncic aside, one of the keys that these Rick Carlisle Mavericks have finished the season as, against all odds, the team with the best offensive rating in history. In Dallas, unlike in the Knicks, Porzingis hits less in the zones, posts little and opens a lot to shoot. Instead of hitting stronger defenses, shoot over smaller defenses. And it opens the way for a team that bases its attack on a simple but effective block and follow with Doncic as driver and three open shooters.

But beyond these playoffs and this season, Porzingis is an invaluable asset to the future of the Mavs. That he has Doncic and him as a star couple ... and that they will have salary margin to be very aggressive in the 2021 market. The Texan franchise fished in a troubled river in New York and later gave the Latvian, formed in Seville, an extension ( the Knicks didn't sign him to extend his five-year, $ 158 million rookie contract. Made the bet, there is no need to say how strategic Porzingis is in the future of the Mavs.

The problem, right now, is his knees: he suffered a torn ligament in his left on February 6, 2018 and was without playing (including the entire 2018-19 season) until October 23, 2019. More than 20 months. That is, he has played 60 games (57 in the regular phase and 3 in the playoffs) since February 2018, and this new injury, which can take him to the operating room, is his right knee, where he has already had discomfort during the season. Porzingis is 25, 2.21 tall and handles forward mobility. That raises questions about durability and possible chronification of his knee problems. Those who are not helped by the muscle they are gaining, something that is important for their game. It is also not good news that the discomfort has returned after confinement and a break from which the player himself returned saying that he had been phenomenal to recover from "some physical problems" .

The Mavs will probably be cautious. Porzingis is surely going to need maintenance that takes care of his minutes, his trips and his volume of games. And, also, that he reinforces the internal rotation of the Mavs so that the Latvian only makes extra efforts when they are really necessary. Right now, much of the (bright) future of the Doncic project depends on his knees… and the projection of a player with a unique profile and almost unlimited possibilities.

Photos from as.com
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