1 Way Kristaps Porzingis is Different From Most Other NBA Stars

Lost in the hype of Luka Doncic’s historic sophomore campaign is the semi-disappointing Mavericks’ debut of Kristaps Porzingis. Once believed to be the future of the New York Knicks, injuries that caused him to miss almost half of the 2017-18 season and the entirety of the 2018-19 season sidetracked his career. His debut in Dallas was heavily anticipated, and while he has had moments, he hasn’t shown that he is the player who was believed to be a superstar. 

Still, Porzingis carries himself differently from other elite players in one major way.

Kristaps Porzingis’ turbulent 2019

It’s not hard to see why Kristaps Porzingis was so heavily hyped coming into the NBA. He was 19 years old, 7-foot-3, and could play like someone smaller than he is. Although he showed early promise with a 14-point, seven-rebound, and two-block stat line as a rookie, he was not the immediate star many thought he could be. He got better every year, however, and was averaging 23 points and seven rebounds when he tore his ACL. That injury changed his career.

It’s been a roller coaster ride in 2019 for Porzingis. He spent a portion of the Knicks’ season on the bench. After a seemingly normal rehabilitation process, Porzingis requested a trade from the team in January. The request surprised everyone, even Knicks coach David Fizdale, who thought that Porzingis was happy where he was. Fizdale had thought he built a good relationship with Porzingis, but Porzingis felt different. 

The Knicks eventually traded Porzingis to the Mavericks, who were willing to sacrifice two first-round picks, Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, and Wesley Matthews for the injured big man. NBA fans were immediately intrigued by the prospect of Porzingis playing alongside Doncic in Dallas, but some more breaking news put a damper on the season. 

Porzingis shows how he’s different from other NBA stars

Unlike most NBA stars, the Mavericks' Kristaps Porzingis was fine riding the bench at the end of a dismal game for him.
Kristaps Porzingis celebrates from the Mavericks’ bench. | Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Despite a maximum contract, Kristaps Porzingis is second-fiddle to a rising star while coming off of a knee injury that took him out for a year-and-a-half. He has shined in certain moments for the Mavericks, but other times he has struggled greatly. With Doncic having a historic season in just his second season, his struggles have not held the Mavericks back, but it has made him expendable. 

During a game against the Boston Celtics, Porzingis played less than 20 minutes, shot 1 of 11 from the field, and looked lost on the basketball court. Mavericks’ coach Rick Carlisle benched Porzingis, and Porzingis didn’t throw a temper tantrum or try to play the victim, he owned that he deserved the benching. 

“Of course I want to be out there, but can’t blame him,” Porzingis said, per ESPN. “I wasn’t having a great game. I’m all-in for whatever’s best for the team. If the coach thinks he’d rather have me out and have someone else in that’s having a better game, let’s do it if we can win a basketball game. That’s the most important thing, but going forward, I want to make sure I’m out there.”

What to expect going forward? 

It may take Kristaps Porzingis some time to get used to a smaller role than he expected as he finds his way back in the NBA. However, he seems to be at peace with that — at least for now. It has been a roller coaster year for Porzingis, and there are still many question marks for him on and off the court. 

The Mavericks are enjoying Luka Doncic’s rise to superstardom, but in the background, Porzingis remains a major question mark. If he works out, they could have one of the best duos in the NBA. If not, however, the Mavericks could be looking to move him sooner rather than later.