The Dallas Mavericks are close to contention, but not quite there just yet. This next off-season is going to be of major importance, as there are three Mavericks steps to contention. They are, however, still a surprise to many this season. Luka Doncic has emerged as a legitimate superstar, Kristaps Porzingis has found his stride, and the team as a whole has proved to be deep while other individual players have fit into their respective roles. Before the seasons’ suspension, the Mavericks were a virtual playoff lock. They were right up there in contention to possibly be as high as the fifth or fourth seed as well. With that being said, there’s work that needs to be done.
Dallas Mavericks: Steps to Contention
Step One: Sign Another Wing
The Western Conference’s elite teams tend to be strong at the wing and small forward positions. The Los Angeles Clippers have Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, the Los Angeles Lakers have LeBron James, the Denver Nuggets have an emerging talent in Michael Porter, and the list goes on for other teams.
The Mavericks have Dorian Finney-Smith. That’s not a knock on the player. He’s proven to be a defensive stud and is constantly improving to the point where he’s become a starter and high-energy player. Furthermore, he’s even developed a very solid three-point shot this season.
The team lacks depth, however. Justin Jackson cannot be relied upon to be the back-up wing as he’s inconsistent and struggles on defense. In a long season and intense playoff match-ups in the West, the Mavericks will need a solid wing rotation to truly compete.
The 2020 free-agent class isn’t the greatest, but it fits the Mavericks’ plans of adding into the rotation instead of looking for stars. Jae Crowder, a former Mavericks fan-favorite, and Maurice Harkless need to be looked at this summer.
Step Two: Don’t Bite on a Major Trade
Mavericks fans have seen in the past that owner Mark Cuban is not afraid to pull the trigger on big trades. It’s worked out before (see Porzingis) but has also failed miserably in the past (see Rajon Rondo).
The team is young and has built great chemistry together. That’s one reason to keep the core together. Another reason is that any trade partner will likely ask for Tim Hardaway Jr., Maxi Kleber, and/or Seth Curry. Hardaway Jr. has become the clear third option on this team and is reaching elite levels in the catch-and-shoot role. Kleber is a defensive stalwart and can stretch the floor. Curry is one of the league’s best shooters and can play both guard positions. Kleber and Curry are on team-friendly contracts, and all signs point to Hardaway Jr. re-signing this summer on what should be a decent value contract.
What the Mavericks get in return in a trade may be a “fancy” name, but not someone worth at least two of the aforementioned players. For example, Myles Turner’s name has been thrown out for a while, but the Mavericks will be better suited with what they have. Unless a trade can get them another elite talent like Porzingis last season, they should stick to the core.
Step Three: Utilize the Draft
Yes, Doncic was a draft-day acquisition and the team’s best draft-day decision behind trading for Dirk Nowitzki in 1998. The Mavericks, however, have a relatively ugly record in the draft when picking in the first round outside the lottery.
The Mavericks should have a pick somewhere in the 18-20 range. There should be plenty of solid players on the board at the time, such as Saddiq Bey and Devin Vassell. Both players fit the wing criteria that the Mavericks need to improve at. Bey and Vassell are both great defenders who can shoot from range – exactly what the Mavericks should be looking for.
If the majority of talented wings are off the board at the time, the Mavericks can entertain the possibility of trading that first-round pick for a back-up wing as well. They should avoid the major trade like in step two, but if the pick can land them a wing defender who can put up seven or eight points a night, it’s something to consider. This is one of the more underrated steps to contention for the Mavericks.
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