DALLAS — Almost any pathway for the Dallas Mavericks to take the next step as a team begins with a rejuvenated Kristaps Porzingis having a strong 2021-22 season.
It has become evident that in some ways, Porzingis did not tend to see eye-to-eye with former coach Rick Carlisle. In fact, there were rumors recently about Porzingis welcoming the idea of a trade early in the offseason before the team parted ways with Carlisle.
With Jason Kidd now running the show, Porzingis has been in high spirits — a good sign for the Mavericks, who begin the regular season on Oct. 21 at the Atlanta Hawks.
“I think when you look at KP, he’s had some injuries,” Kidd told Mavs.com as the Mavs worked on Monday. “But I think more or less, he’s having fun.
“I don’t know if he’s been having fun as we’ve continued to talk, and talk basketball and life. He’s a very talented player, and our job is to get him back to where we all believe he should be.”
There are a variety of reasons to be optimistic about Porzingis' outlook entering the start of a new campaign.
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"I'm just feeling free,'' Porzingis says of his recent performances. "Just feeling free to play my game.''
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Between Porzingis having a fully healthy offseason to improve his game — something he has not experienced in years — in addition to enjoying playing for Kidd, there's a lot to like.
Perhaps what tops the list is that Doncic and Porzingis seem to be having fun together. Doncic recently shared an Instagram gallery with the caption "6 x 77 🙌" along with a photo of the two Mavericks stars having fun on the practice court.
With Doncic and Porzingis both having a fresh start under a new coach, the spirits seem higher than they've ever been. Now, the Mavericks will need to have that translate to the win column.
The personal execution that Kristaps Porzingis brings in a co-star role will play a pivotal role in the Dallas Mavericks' success this season. He is happiest when involved as a star. As long as he's thriving in ways that result in wins, all is well.
NOTES: Reggie Bullock is back with the Mavs after missing the preseason road trip for personal reasons .... The signed-and-released tandem of Justin Jackson and EJ Onu are G-League-bound. ... As Eddie Sefko notes, xix of the Mavs’ first 10 games are at home, and six of the opponents did not make the playoffs in last season. ... The Mavs have painted a "defensive pressure'' stripe on the practice court, 16 feet out. ... Why is Dwight Powell a starter? Here's why.
QUOTABLE: “This was a great start. Whenever you can win games, it’s a plus, no matter what the situation. I’d rather learn by winning than by losing. We’re going to keep getting better. This is obviously the first step.” - Jalen Brunson on Dallas' 4-0 preseason record.