Kristaps Porzingis didn't make his season debut until Jan. 13 and has been in and out of the lineup at times during the 2020-21 NBA season, but Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle believes he is "getting near" what the team expects to be his ceiling.
"He's been busting his tail," Carlisle told reporters following Wednesday's 115-104 victory over the San Antonio Spurs. "He really has."
Injuries have been an unfortunate part of Porzingis' story in the NBA as the No. 4 overall pick of the 2015 draft tore his ACL in February 2018 during his first—and, thus far, only—All-Star season.
He went from one of the most promising young playmakers in the league to someone with serious injury concerns and then sat out the 2018-19 campaign as he recovered. He returned for the 2019-20 season and helped lead the Mavericks to the playoffs, only to suffer another knee injury that required surgery.
Tim MacMahon of ESPN reported Porzingis explored potentially undergoing platelet-rich plasma injections to help his meniscus heal without surgery, but he ultimately went under the knife.
The big man looked fully healthy Wednesday with 28 points and 14 rebounds.
San Antonio had no answer for him down low, and he and Luka Doncic put the game away in the fourth quarter with a stretch that included an alley-oop lob and a behind-the-back assist from guard to center on a three-pointer.
Dallas is a solid but unspectacular 19-16 on the season but appears to have found its footing with a 10-2 mark in the last 12 games.
If Porzingis continues to play like he did Wednesday as he gets healthier and Doncic remains among the league's top players, then the Mavericks figure to be a serious problem for some of the Western Conference's best teams come playoff time.