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Dallas Mavericks

NBA Trade Deadline: How does Kristaps Porzingis fit in with Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks?

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Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic (NBA Getty Images)

Kristaps Porzingis has played his last game for the New York Knicks.

The Knicks announced on Thursday that they have traded the one-time All-Star to the Dallas Mavericks for Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews and two future first-round picks. Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee and Trey Burke are also going to Dallas in the deal.

Porzingis hasn't played since Feb. 6 of last season after suffering a torn ACL in his left knee - a scary injury for a player his size - but he has the potential to thrive alongside Luka Doncic in ways Smith and Jordan couldn't.

With that in mind, let's take a closer look at how the big man fits in with his new team.

What does Porzingis bring to the Mavericks?

A whole lot of scoring.

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Porzingis averaged 22.7 points per game last season, which put him behind only Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis, LeBron James and Kevin Durant at the time of his injury for the most in the league at the forward position. He was productive the two years prior, posting 14.3 points per game as a rookie and 18.1 points per game as a sophomore.

While he's nowhere near the passer that Antetokounmpo, Davis, James and Durant are - Porzingis has never averaged more than 1.5 assists per game in a single season - the Latvian has developed into arguably the best shooting big man in the NBA. He made 39.5 percent of his 3-point attempts and 40.2 percent of his midrange attempts last season, two shots that accounted for more than half of his made field goals on the year.

Those splits are remarkable considering Porzingis is tied with Boban Marjanovic for the tallest player in the league.

Porzingis is a versatile shooter, too. He moves off of screens in ways you wouldn't expect to see from a player his size and he can pick-and-pop with the best of them. He's basically this era's version of Dirk Nowitzki, making him a natural fit with Doncic, who will take over as the primary ball handler now that Smith is no longer with the Mavericks.

Expect to see a lot of this between Doncic and Porzingis in Dallas moving forward:

Porzingis is even a dominant scorer with his back to the basket.

Through 48 games last season, only Joel Embiid and LaMarcus Aldridge had more points in the post. Both of them were more efficient in those situations, but Porzingis has improved as a post scorer each season he's been in the league.

What he lacks in strength Porzingis makes up for in size. At 7-foot-3 with a 7-foot-6 wingspan, he can shoot over just about any defender in the league, even opposing centres. According to NBA.com, he led the league in shot attempts against tight coverage last season and converted them at the same rate as Kevin Durant.

Porzingis won't be the No. 1 option like he was in New York, but his comfort in the post will take some of the pressure off of Doncic. If teams switch those pick-and-pops that should become a staple in Dallas, the Mavericks will have the option of clearing the lane for Doncic to attack a bigger defender in isolation or giving Porzingis the ball on the block against a much smaller defender.

Porzingis impacts the game in others as well. He averaged 6.6 rebounds and a career-high 2.4 blocks per game last season, the latter being good enough for the second-most in the league.

Even though most of his minutes in the NBA have come at power forward, Porzingis is more than capable of playing centre. It actually suits him better because it means he doesn't have to spend as much time chasing players around on the perimeter.

If the Mavericks can surround Doncic and Porzingis with shooters and defenders in the years to come, they could have the makings of a future contender. It at least gives them a potentent - and cheap - one-two punch that can compete with the best young cores in the league.

This is all operating under the assumption that Porzingis will come back from his injury at the same player, but he still has plenty to offer as a shooter and rim protector even if he doesn't.

Plus, Porzingis fits in better with Doncic's timeline than Jordan did while allowing the Mavericks to still be competitive. Whereas Jordan is 30-years-old, Porzingis is only 23 with his best years still ahead of him.

It makes for a home run deal for a team that already had a bright future.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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