Mavs Porzingis Among The NBA's Top 'MIP's' In The West

Mike Fisher

DALLAS - The NBA is hoping to pick up where it left off - and as far as the Dallas Mavericks are concerned, they're hoping for the same from Kristaps Porzingis.

The resumption of the 2019-20 season is on-track, with the NBA working to deal with everything from rising COVID-19 cases in the league's "new state'' of Florida to concerns about the proper framing of basketball and the civil rights movement.

Tucked in here somewhere is the actual competition on the floor, in the bubble, for the next NBA champion. SI's The Crossover recently took a unique look at part of the process in the Eastern Conference playoffs by assessing the "most important player'' for each team. 

And now it's time to do it for the Western Conference, and yes, KP is the MIP. Writes Michael Shapiro:

"This may be Luka Dončić’s first playoff appearance, but I have faith in the Slovenian sensation’s performance holding steady in Orlando. Dončić has already proven his late-game mettle in his first two seasons, and he came to the NBA as the most accomplished European teenager in basketball history. Dallas’s playoff fate could ride on its other All-Star.

"It hasn’t been a perfect 2019-20 for Kristaps Porziņģis, with his season marred by injury trouble and an undefined role in Dallas’s offense. But Porziņģis was trending in the right direction before the NBA’s restart. He averaged 27.7 points and 11 rebounds per game from Jan. 31 and March 6, and his pick-and-pop dance with Dončić was hitting its stride. 

"Porziņģis has the talent to take over a game with a 30-point eruption. If he’s at his best, the Western Conference favorites could be on upset alert.''

As long as we acknowledge the obvious importance of Luka here, the take makes sense. Indeed, The Crossover's work on the West MIPs, team-by-team, focuses on some players beyond the obvious ones ... and can be found here.