The Dallas Mavericks have been on a roll lately, winning three straight, and four of their last five games. Now, they've received even more good news in the form of a positive update on Kristaps Porzingis. The big man is expected to make his season debut on Monday night against the New Orleans Pelicans, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania. On Sunday night's injury report, Porzingis was updated to questionable for the first time this season, and the Mavericks listed him as a "probable starter" Sunday afternoon in their game notes for Monday's matchup against New Orleans.
Porzingis suffered a knee injury during the playoffs last season, and at first tried to play through the pain. He wasn't able to do so, however, and ended up missing the last three games of the Mavericks' first-round series with the Los Angeles Clippers. He was eventually diagnosed with a torn meniscus, and underwent surgery in October.
The Mavericks were expecting him to be ready for the start of the season back when it was assumed that play would start in January, but when opening night was moved up to before Christmas, those plans obviously changed. Porzingis began ramping up his activity level in recent weeks, and returned to practice in the final days of December. Porzingis could potentially be on a minutes restriction in his return, as Dallas doesn't want to rush him back too soon, given his injury history. However, getting Porzingis back is a big boost for the Mavericks, especially as COVID-19 protocols have forced Maxi Kleiber, Dorian Finney-Smith, Josh Richardson and Jalen Brunson to the sidelines.
Last season, which was his first in Dallas, Porzingis put up 20.4 points, 9.5 rebounds and two blocks per game, while forming a dynamic partnership with Luka Doncic. With those two leading the way, the Mavericks recorded the best offensive rating in NBA history, scoring 115.9 points per 100 possessions. And while Doncic is clearly the main man, Porzingis' ability to space the floor was a major factor in the Mavs' success. That's been evident this season, as they're sitting at 16th in the league in offense without him.
Porzingis is clearly a talented player, and a perfect fit for playing alongside Doncic, but the main challenge will be keeping him on the floor. This is the second major knee surgery he's had in the last few years, and he hasn't managed more than 66 games in the last three seasons.