Dallas Mavericks: Season Preview
The Dallas Mavericks, despite having two bona fide superstars, fell short of making the playoffs last season. Many attributed this to a lack of time, but the team’s management didn’t wait around and made productive offseason moves. The summer signings have made the team more balanced and stronger.
As of today, according to bukmeker, Luka Dončić is among the top contenders for the MVP award, but the Mavericks themselves may not have a great chance for significant success.
Previous season results: 11th place, 38-44.
Arrivals – Seth Curry, Dante Exum, Olivier Sarr (24th pick), Derrick Jones, Grant Williams (53rd/4th), Richaun Holmes, Derek Lively (12th pick).
Remaining – Kyrie Irving, Jaden Hardy, Tim Hardaway Jr., Josh Green, Luka Dončić, Markieff Morris, Maxi Kleber, Dwight Powell.
What to Expect from the Team
Since the Mavs are unable to build a contender around Dončić (as of now), it doesn’t mean they’ve given up on trying to build something significant. Recognizing the primary needs of a roster with two stars like Dončić and Irving, the Mavericks, in my opinion, made some good moves in the offseason. To complement Kyrie and especially Luka, they needed more shooting, defense, and athleticism.
Shooting was addressed with the addition of Seth Curry, Grant Williams, and Dante Exum. Curry can be considered a proven sharpshooter, with a 44% three-point shooting average over his 9-year career, averaging 4.3 attempts per game. Grant Williams, who played for the Boston Celtics over the last three seasons, improved his three-point shooting, hitting 40% on 3.1 attempts per game.
Dante Exum, on the other hand, didn’t have a great shooting percentage from beyond the arc in the NBA, hitting only 31% of his threes. However, after leaving the league in 2020, he played in Europe for a while. Over two seasons with Barcelona and Partizan, he played 63 games in the EuroLeague, shooting an average of 42% from beyond the arc on 2 attempts per game.
The primary contribution of Dante is his defensive skills. He was essentially brought in to become a new Frank Ntilikina, someone who would clean up behind the guards, provide defensive support, and unlike the Frenchman, hit threes. In addition to Exum, the Mavericks signed Grant Williams, who is well-known for his defensive prowess from his time with the Celtics. Despite not being a particularly tall power forward, Williams is a robust and strong defender with a low center of gravity, which makes him challenging to attack even for some centers.
In an ideal world, the future mobile rim protector for the Mavs could be Derek Lively, the 12th overall draft pick. He is an athletic shot-blocking machine, averaging 2.4 blocks per game during his time with Duke last season. I believe these shot-blocking skills should easily translate into the NBA. He also brings offensive skills such as rolling to the basket, which is very useful for a big man playing alongside Luka and Kyrie. However, he needs to work on his overall defense as he appears somewhat “soft” on that end. Overall, having a rookie center in a team that aims high can be a painful experience.
What the Mavericks seem to have added the most is athleticism. There’s no need to elaborate much on Derrick Jones and Richaun Holmes. Just throw them an alley-oop, and they can finish at the rim. They run, jump, and play solid defense. These players are ideal for deep rotation.
Season Joker: Luka Dončić
High expectations have always surrounded Dallas, and for the past few years, people have been waiting for Luka Dončić to enter the MVP race. Without trying to predict, it is possible that this season, with his form at the World Cup and the lessons learned from the previous season, we might see Luka unlocking his full potential and carrying Dallas almost single-handedly.
Prediction: 10th place in the Western Conference.