It's hard to believe that Kristaps Porzingis was barely a year ago. It was not difficult to imagine what he could do if he joined the Mavericks.
The 24-year-old, who was two years before his ACL was torn apart, showed his potential as a franchisee by doing back-to-back appearances with at least 35 points and 10 rebounds for the first time in his career. On Friday, Porzingis recorded 35 points, 12 rebounds, two steals and a block in a loss to Houston. On Monday, he had 38 points and 12 rebounds in a win against the Pacers, hitting six 6-of-13 3-hands and all 12 free-throw attempts.
Before Friday, Porzingis, who supported the Mavericks (31-19) in their first playoff appearance in four years, had only one attempt with 35 points and 10 rebounds in his three seasons with the Knicks.
"When he's hot, he's a special player," said Domantas Sabonis of Indiana. "It's difficult, even if you switch, he's bigger than everyone else and can just shoot over you, especially tonight he got calls. It just made it a really difficult job."
It is no coincidence that Porzingi's best games in his career ended with an ankle injury from Luka Doncic.
In six games without Doncic, Porzingis averages 27.2 points while shooting 48 percent of the field. In 27 games, Porzingis together with the MVP candidate scored an average of 16 points and shot 39 percent.
"This is something I want to find out in the future how I can be effective while playing Luka," said Porzingis. "We worked on that. I'm in a good rhythm now and I want to keep it going. I think we play pretty good basketball, we move the ball and play aggressively."
In the meantime, Dennis Smith Jr. has averaged 5.6 points for the Knicks this season, and the 2021 draft picks they received from the Mavericks will not be raffled off.
Here too, Porzingis is only 24 years old and is back in action after missing almost two full seasons.
An eternal head scratch trade could still look so much worse