Updated: Dec 10, 2020
The Dallas Mavericks are one of the most exciting teams to watch, having one of the best, high scoring offenses in the league last season. The Mavs are led by their 2 European stars, Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. The team was the 6th seed last season, and pushed the Clippers to 6 games, while being without Porzingis in 3 of those games. Now, the Mavericks look to take a step forward and become a top team in the West, and my question is, are they really a threat?
The Mavericks acquired Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzigis via trades in the 2018-19 season. Doncic was traded on draft night from the Atlanta Hawks, to the Mavericks who traded Trae Young and a future first in exchange for Doncic. The trade for Porzingis, involved much more and was a very large trade. The Mavericks sent Dennis Smith Jr., Deandre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, a 2021 first round pick and a 2023 top 10 protected first round pick to the Knicks in exchange for Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke and Courtney Lee. Both of the trades look like the Mavericks robbed the Hawks and the Knicks. Doncic has turned into an MVP type player in just his 2nd season, and Porzingis returned to his old self after his injury. The cast around the duo last season was solid, having Tim Hardaway, Maxi Kleber, and Seth Curry around them. Hardaway added a 3rd option for scoring the ball, Kleber started games next to Kristaps after Dwight Powell went down with a season ending injury, and Seth Curry is one of the best shooters in the league. The team did well, ending up the 6th seed and drew a tough first round matchup against the Clippers, a series which in my opinion exceeded expectations. They pushed the series to 6 games, after losing Porzingis after game 3, which left Luka alone with the supporting cast. Luka carried the team to a game 4 win to tie the series at 2 apiece, having 43 points, including the game winner in OT as well as 17 rebounds and 13 assists. After that game, the Mavs would lose back to back, and be sent home.
In the off season, the Mavericks were expected to make a move for a third star to pair alongside Luka and Porzingis, but failed in doing so. But they did make a move on draft night, trading Seth Curry to the Sixers for Josh Richardson and pick 36, which turned into Tyler Bey. The Mavericks in making this move, did lose one of the best shooters in the NBA but gained a wing player, a good one at that which they desperately needed in Josh Richardson. Richardson struggled last season, averaging just 13.7 points on 43% shooting, and 34% from 3. The Mavericks top pick in the draft was 18, and they took Josh Green. Green was an elite defender in college, is an above average facilitator and played PG when Nico Mannion was out of the game, and an above average shooter 36% from 3 last season. Green is 6'6 210 pounds with a 6'10 wingspan which is the ideal frame for an NBA SG. Green averaged 12 points 5 rebounds and 1.5 steals on a very talented Arizona team. Also on draft night, the Mavs drafted Tyrell Terry, who shot 41% from 3 at Stanford last season and will look to fill the hole that Seth Curry left. Last rookie, is Tyler Bey who was involved in the trade for Josh Richardson. Bey was a 3 year college player at Colorado, who started getting noticed in his sophomore season when he doubled his scoring from his freshman season. His junior season he averaged 14 points and 9 rebounds, which at 6'7 is impressive. He also shot 42% from 3, but on limited attempts. Bey isn't a great passer, or really a consistent scorer, needs a more fluid jumper and to improve his overall range and consistency. Bey does show potential to be a great defender, very agile and explosive player. The team also added James Johnson and Wesley Iwundu in free agency, 2 guys I don't expect to play much, if at all.
The Mavericks didn't have a great off season on paper, and it's hard to see what improvement they made, but I do really like what they did. They added a good wing player, replaced the shooting they lost, and added young rookie talent that has potential to contribute early. Very quiet, under the radar off season for the Mavericks.
With the team constructed the way it is, having to score a lot of points to make up for the lack of defense they have, does worry me because teams that rely on being good on offense with a bad defense, doesn't seem to win games, or playoff series which is why the Mavericks lost to the Clippers. The teams current rotation looks like this :
PG Luka Doncic, Jalen Brunson SG Tim Hardaway Jr., Tyrell Terry SF Josh Richardson, Josh Green PF Maxi Kleber, Dorian Finney-Smith C Kristaps Porzingis, Dwight Powell
That team can score a lot of points, but will also give up a lot of points. The only real good defender in the starting 5 I see is Josh Richardson, maybe THJ but I'm not sure about his abilities on the defensive end compared to the offensive end. If the Mavericks can take a step as a team defensively, I see no reason for why the team isn't a top 4 team in the West.
The Mavericks hold the potential to be a top 4 team in the playoffs and host a playoff series, if there is no postseason bubble. However, they could draw a tough first round matchup against a team like the Jazz, Rockets, or Trail Blazers. Provided they get by a first round matchup, are they on the same level as either of the LA teams and the Nuggets? The answer is no. The Mavericks aren't as good as either of the LA teams, and don't have the same chemistry as the Nuggets team does to be better than them in my opinion. The Lakers still have LeBron and AD, added Schroder, Harrell, Gasol, and Wesley Matthews in free agency and really solidified themselves as the best team in the West. The other LA team, the Clippers lost Harrell, but added Ibaka to compensate, and picked up Nicolas Batum. The Nuggets did lose a lot of key players, Jerami Grant, Torrey Craig, Mason Plumlee, but brought back Paul Millsap and brought in JaMychal Green. The top 4 will be very interesting to see where they all finish the season at.
The Mavericks are going to be a good team, maybe even a great team this season but I don't see them as a championship contender right now. There are 3 teams in the West that I think are for sure better, and there's still some teams that could be great, we just won't know. 2020-21 won't be there season. Give this team a year, MAYBE 2, and they'll be ready to compete for a ring.
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