Earlier this week, Kristaps Porzingis participated in his first full 5-on-5 practice with the Dallas Mavericks — exactly 13 months to the day that he underwent successful surgery on the torn left ACL he suffered as a member of the New York Knicks.
The road back to action was a long one for Porzingis, but he is hoping that the patience that he employed during the process will pay off.
“It’s just the progression that we had,” Porzingis said, via the Mavericks. “I could have been on the court way earlier than this. But we really took our time, we really stayed patient, I stayed really patient. I’m proud of myself for staying that patient. But now it’s here, I’m excited and I can’t wait for the next practice.”
Regarding his return to on-court action after such a long layoff, Porzingis said that he felt “fluid.”
“I’ve visualized a lot and I see myself playing, so this whole time I’m always thinking in my head, ‘I don’t want to come back and be rusty,'” Porzingis said. “I want to be in the game right away … I missed the shots today, but I felt good on the court, I felt comfortable, I felt fluid and I think that’s important. The shots will start falling and the more we play, the more I play. It’s good to finally be able to do something physical, so I’m happy.”
Porzingis isn’t expected to return to game action for Dallas, back in action on Saturday against the Cavs (8:30 p.m. ET — watch on fuboTV with the NBA League Pass extension), this season, but head coach Rick Carlisle is excited about the prospect of adding the multi-faceted forward to his rotation moving forward.
“He went through a full practice with no issues, so very encouraging,” Carlisle said of Porzingis. “He’s made tremendous progress with his rehab, with his conditioning, his strength, and [playing 5-on-5 basketball] was the next logical progression. He played 3-on-3 yesterday morning with some of the other guys and did extremely well there. So this went really well.”
Carlisle is obviously excited about working with Porzingis, and Porzingis is equally excited to get an opportunity to grow his game under a coach with a championship pedigree.
“I really like his philosophy, the way he sees me out there on the court, and I think we’re on the same page on all of the stuff that we talked about,” Porzingis said. “So I’m really excited to play for coach Carlisle and it’s going to be a great opportunity for me to take my game to the next level.”
Between the continued development of rookie sensation Luka Doncic and the addition of a healthy Porzingis, Mavs fans have a lot to be excited about moving forward.