Has the Dallas Mavericks’ ceiling been raised?

When the news broke last month that the Kristaps Porzingis experiment was finally over, I admit I was a bit upset. Upset we never got to see it work. And upset with the return for the Dallas Mavericks. I understood two bad contracts are better than one colossally terrible contract, but I couldn’t ignore the ceiling that was just exchanged for the floor.

It was clear at the time the Mavs traded away that illusive high-end ceiling when KP was set packing. It was also fairly apparent they exchanged it for an elevated floor. Given the availability of Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans, the Dallas Mavericks were sure to be better than their lowest levels of play when KP was wearing street clothes.

But now, a few games in, we can see it’s more than just “availability” that has raised the Mavs floor. It’s also adding an extra ball hander a third creator to the mix.

Spencer Dinwiddie gives the Dallas Mavericks a third ball handler/creator and that may do more than just raise the ceiling.

Spencer Dinwiddie has seen a career resurgence since coming to Dallas. Comments from both sides indicate he was not a good match in Washington and improvements were not going to be discovered organically.

He needed a new team. A new role. A structure and support system. It’s early but it appears he’s gained all of those things with the Dallas Mavericks.

Dinwiddie has been empowered from the start. He’s been asked to take on a leadership role of sorts and all sides seem to be responding. This season Luka Doncic has been leaned on to the tune of a league-high 41.8 percent usage rate. Dinwiddie takes some of that burden.

Together with Jalen Brunson, Luka and Dinwiddie have competent running mates than can create. Jason Kidd recently said he hopes to keep two of the three on the floor most times. This will alleviate some of the burden from Luka and move the ball better in the process.

Has the ceiling really been lowered? That’s a question that could take a year or two to answer. The “ceiling” was always a hypothetical:

What if KP gets fully healthy?

What if he integrates into the lineups and stays healthy?

What if he and Luka find a way to play together and elevate each others’ games?

What if all that potential is realized? 

Three years into the experiment and we never saw the ceiling. Perhaps that ceiling was unrealistic. Perhaps it was as mythical and a unicorn itself. We really won’t know until we see this all plays out.

What we’ve already seen is Luka Doncic and Spencer Dinwiddie play off each other. We’ve seen them elevate each other and we’ve seen them pick up each other’s slack. Dinwiddie may not be that second star KP promised to be, but so far he’s a good addition to the Dallas Mavericks team and may be doing more than just elevating the Mavs’ floor. He may be elevating their ceiling.

The jury is out (as it should be). The sample size of games is small and we’ll need time to judge this trade, but early returns say this was great move with the potential to elevate in more than one way.