For the Dallas Mavericks, their start to the season has been a rough one and it needs to be fixed quickly.
The 2020-2021 NBA season has been interesting on many fronts. It starts with the shortened (or extremely long) postseason, depending on if a team played in the bubble. Also, the fact that teams had short training camps, and some players missed time due to COVID issues. Let’s not forget that most arenas haven’t had fans at all, although some are starting to trickle in now. All of these factors have also attributed to the Mavericks’ issues.
The Dallas Mavericks Need to be Fixed
The Mavs were pegged widely as one of the favorites in the Western Conference after pushing the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round during the playoffs. However, this season’s been a borderline disaster for the Mavs and needs to be fixed quickly if they want to compete. The Western Conference is tough till the very end. This season is no different.
As it sits today they are 15-15, and perhaps the timing isn’t the best considering they won on Tuesday night against the Boston Celtics. Still, Rick Carlisle‘s squad is ninth in the West and in danger of barely earning a seed at the play-in tournament. Teams seeded seventh to tenth will participate in the play-in.
It’s been extremely tough for this Dallas team, and aside from Luka Doncic, nobody has really lived up to the hype. Jason Richardson came over in the offseason from the Philadelphia 76ers and has been decent, but not consistent.
Tim Hardaway Jr. has turned it on the past few games, and Kristaps Porzingis returned from injury and has recently begun to find some success. However, Porzingis still is trying to turn into the star he was on the New York Knicks early on in his career. Injuries, of course, continue to plague the big man.
Kristaps Porzingis on the Move?
Reports swirled yesterday of a possible Porzingis trade the Mavericks were exploring, to the surprise of many.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 23, 2021
Porzingis came over in the huge trade from the Knicks and has battled injuries his whole career. Still, if the Mavs do trade Porzingis, it needs to be for a nice package. He’s averaging 20.5 points through 17 games to go with 8.2 boards and is shooting a career-best 47 percent from the field.
The biggest issue with him is his durability, which has always been the case. In fact, that’s a huge reason why the Knicks traded him to Dallas, to begin with. His rim-protection is also becoming a concern. He’s not the shot-blocker he once was. The Mavs have apparently checked in with the Golden State Warriors on a possible trade, although Rick Carlisle and Mark Cuban have doubled down and said he’s not being shopped.
Carlisle says "nothing's been explored," on Porzingis trade front. "I know Mark's denied it. I'm denying it."
— Brad Townsend (@townbrad) February 23, 2021
Perhaps not the most surprising thing to say. Teams don’t typically admit to shopping their own player. Nonetheless, perhaps he’s on the move, if so it should be for a nice package.
The Mavericks Need to get Luka Help
Seth Curry was sent away from Dallas this offseason and the way they spent the free-agent period was always a huge question mark. This roster, on paper, doesn’t have what it takes to compete with the top-tier West teams. The LA teams, Utah Jazz, and Phoenix Suns all made improvements in the offseason and it shows,
As for Dallas, besides bringing in Richardson and trading for James Johnson for depth, that’s all they did. Willie Cauley-Stein was re-signed as well and hasn’t moved the needle at all so far this year. He lacks rotation minutes.
As a matter of fact, besides Doncic, this team has been underwhelming. Doncic was named a starter for the West All-Star squad in a hot debate between himself and Damian Lillard. Doncic is averaging 28.9 points with 8.6 boards and 9.2 assists on the year in a one-man show for the Mavs.
Porzingis has definitely helped the cause since returning from injury, and Hardaway and Richardson have had their fair share of games. The issue is that they don’t have another star player besides Porzingis and Doncic, and even Porzingis himself has had his issues this season.
Knowing Cuban, he won’t just stand around and accept mediocrity. With that being said, the Mavericks should be major players in the market as the trade deadline draws near. Expect more rumors to come out of Dallas.
Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond are the biggest names made available, and neither really makes a lot of sense for this Dallas team. Lonzo Ball, JJ Redick, and Austin Rivers are some other names that make more sense for Dallas as they look to improve their roster.
The Mavericks are Better, for now
The Mavericks were awful to start the year and it showed. Doncic was frustrated, Porzingis missed the first chunk of the year and this team was really close to the bottom of the West.
However, they have won seven of their last 10 games including six of their last seven with the one loss and three-point game against Portland. Luka was on fire on Tuesday night against the Celtics and put the game away with a game-winning three. He finished that game with 31 points on 11-23 from the field with 10 boards and eight assists. The highlight tape is very impressive.
Jalen Brunson has picked up the pace as of late and so has Hardaway. If these role players can perform like that more consistently, the Mavericks could sneak into the playoffs. The play-in tournament is likely, but not the easiest path.
Make no mistake, Doncic is the man in Dallas, but he needs help. Moreover, this Mavericks team needs to be fixed. They need help if there are any hopes of making a deep playoff run in 2021.
Main Image: Embed from Getty Images