DALLAS! Let’s talk about the Mavericks, who, believe it or not, have not won a playoff series since defeating the Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals. This will be the eleventh season since then and the first one where Rick Carlisle isn’t going to be coaching the team. He left to go to head up the Pacers bench.
In his place is Jason Kidd, starting point guard of that 2011 team. And they have a new GM in Nico Harrison, who they lured away from Nike. But, the offseason did not see much player movement. Let’s discuss.
Odds To Win Title: +3000
Odds To Win West: +1400
Odds To Win Southwest Division: -150 (best odds)
Running It Back?
It has been awfully surprising to see the lack of moves made by the Mavericks this offseason. Considering how they blew a big series lead to the Clippers last year, you’d have thought they would try and get some new players in to help them with such scenarios as the ones they just faced. But it’s pretty much the same thing.
Luka Doncic was dominant in every facet of the word and could not have been better if he tried. But, not a single player joined him in wanting to actually win against L.A. So many guys struggled and slipped up on the big stage. And they still have a big problem, it being Kristaps Porzingis, who had a horrendous postseason.
They were unable to trade his contract, and they have a lot of fixing that needs to be done. The only “big” signing was Reggie Bullock, who is now a game-changer from what they already had.
Can Luka Guide This Team?
Luka Doncic is one of the best players in the NBA, and he’s only played three seasons. He graced the cover of NBA 2K22 this season, already showing how popular he is around the league and the world. He averaged a near triple-double a season ago and lit up the Clippers for most of the first-round series.
The obvious issue last year was that he carried too much of the onus on his own back. Nobody else could make plays when he was off the floor, and they struggled far too much. The franchise has done nothing in the playoffs since winning their monumental NBA championship in 2011. Other than the Vince Carter first-round buzzer-beater against San Antonio, it’s been disappointing.
Doncic is likely to bring the team to a third-straight playoff appearance. But, what about beyond that? Who is here to assist? Tim Hardaway Jr. goes cold at the worst times. Kristaps has been invisible and isn’t using his size. Dorian Finney-Smith also fades under pressure.
Who Will the Second Guy Be?
The question is the same as it was last year, about who the Mavs second “star” will be? Under a new coach in Jason Kidd, perhaps the depth chart might be a little different. But, it will all start and end with Doncic. The in-between is what will win and lose them the games they have to have.
Kidd guided the Nets to the playoffs during his first year as a coach while doing the same multiple times with the Bucks. But for better or worse, he wore out his welcome in both places before serving as a Lakers assistant for the past two seasons. He will have a lot to teach Doncic about being a point guard if he chooses to hear his new teacher out.
When you put up numbers like Luka, it takes a toll on your body. He is out there grinding hard, with an incredibly high usage rate. That is what was agreed upon when he made the switch from shooting guard to point guard, but still. Some of the others who will need to step up include Hardaway, Jalen Brunson, Kristaps, and all of the big men.
There are a number of bigs on the roster, though few of them consistently make a big impact. They did bring Moses Brown in with a trade with Boston that sent them Josh Richardson. He can be a lob threat who can clean up the glass, too. He also gives them another young player on a somewhat veteran-laden roster.
If THJ can make shots when the games start to matter, he can unlock another gear for this team. He went cold at the end of the Clippers series. If Brunson can keep his head high and play through struggles, there is no reason for him to not remain as the team’s sixth man all season.
And as for Bullock, he can bring a new level of toughness. He never backed down from any of his words or promises during the Knicks opening-round loss to Atlanta in five games in 2020-21. He just kept playing as hard as possible, and he’ll look to do the same off the Dallas bench.