The Dallas Mavericks waltzed their way to the Western Conference Finals last season. They took down the Utah Jazz in the first round, essentially beginning the major Jazz rebuild to follow. Then the Mavericks did the impossible by absolutely obliterating the Phoenix Suns in a game seven on the road. Luka Doncic, to no surprise, championed this team. Other players such as Jalen Brunson and Dorian Finney-Smith stepped up while new additions like Reggie Bullock proved their worth.
Dallas will look quite different next season, however. With that being said, an exciting year should be coming.
First and foremost, Brunson is now gone and a member of the New York Knicks. There’s no doubt that he’ll be missed. Brunson was consistently the Mavericks’ second-option down the stretch last season. He also showed flashes of star potential in the playoffs.
Other role players such as Boban Marjanovic and Trey Burke are gone as well.
The biggest move the Mavericks made was acquiring Christian Wood from the Houston Rockets. He’s an offensive flamethrower and should thrive alongside Doncic. He averaged about 18 points and 10 rebounds per game last season. Wood is the best offensive forward the Mavericks have had since Kristaps Porzingis. A duo of Doncic and a scoring forward showed flashes of greatness in the past.
JaVale McGee also signed with the Mavericks. He adds toughness and grit to the center position and may very well start. McGee presents an upgrade over Dwight Powell.
Tim Hardaway Jr. is not a new player but missed most of last season with an injury. He has typically averaged between 14-16 points per game for the Mavericks. Hardaway Jr. is welcomed back with open arms.
Jaden Hardy and Tyler Dorsey are new as well, but it’s unlikely that they bust into the rotation, at least early on in the season.
The Mavericks have been known to be an offensive powerhouse. With that being said, their improved defense last season allowed them to end up as one of the top teams in the entire league.
Even though Brunson is gone, it’s unlikely that the Mavericks struggle in the scoring department. That won’t happen with Doncic, who will certainly put in an MVP-caliber season. Spencer Dinwiddie is a great second guard to have. Wood and Hardaway Jr. pack a scoring punch as well. Finally, Finney-Smith, Bullock, and Maxi Kleber can shoot the lights out on any given night. The Mavericks will need more contributions from Davis Bertans, however.
The defense improved as well. It’s already known that Finney-Smith and Bullock are borderline elite perimeter defenders. Kleber is also one of the most gifted bigs when it comes to switching on defense. Finally, McGee shores up the paint.
Wood has been criticized for his defensive effort in the past. His length and athleticism, however, should allow him to succeed on that end of the floor. Head coach Jason Kidd needs to bring the best out of Wood on the defensive end, and the same goes for Doncic.
Although the Mavericks made it to the Western Conference Finals, they entered the playoffs as the fourth seed with a 52-30 record. The teams ahead of them, the Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors, and Memphis Grizzlies, remain great. Several other teams in the West greatly improved, such as the Minnesota Timberwolves. The LA Clippers, Denver Nuggets, and New Orleans Pelicans should all be healthy. Other teams, like the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers, saw minor improvements. In short, the West is a gauntlet.
Expect the Mavericks to hover around the same territory as last season. They may not be built to win 60+ games, such as the Suns and Warriors who hold that potential, but Dallas will still be in the mix for homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Doncic will continue to show out while other role players will succeed in their roles. The true difference-makers when it’s all said and done will likely be Dinwiddie and Wood.