The Dallas Mavericks became the poster boys for Tankathon 2023. Can the Mavericks forge ahead after all of the drama from the end of the season and their offseason? The Mavs have the talent to do so, with Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving leading the way. But are the two stars capable of developing the cohesive chemistry to get the Mavs away from being a middle-of-the-pack team?
2023-24 NBA Power Rankings Offseason Edition: No. 15 Dallas Mavericks
Dallas had to expect some dropoff this past season after not replacing Jalen Brunson, who helped guide the Mavs to their first Western Conference since the franchise’s lone championship in 2011 after he bolted to the New York Knicks. However, the Mavericks finished with 14 fewer wins than the previous season. Still, the Mavs were in contention for the Western Conference’s final play-in spot until the last weekend.
In Game 81, Dallas took a three-point lead over the Chicago Bulls heading into the second quarter. Doncic scored a layup a half-minute into the second quarter and called it a night after being subbed out. The Mavericks took a 67-54 lead into halftime. But the Mavs ultimately faded in the second half as the Bulls mounted a comeback for a three-point win, thus eliminating the Mavs from playoff contention.
Dallas Mavericks Offseason Transactions
While the loss cost Dallas owner Mark Cuban $750,000, it assured the Mavericks that they would keep their top-10 protected draft pick. The Mavs drafted Cason Wallace and sent him to Oklahoma City for Davis Bertans and Derrek Lively II. The Mavs ended up with a second-first-round draft pick with Olivier-Maxence Prosper and Richaun Holmes coming over from Sacramento.
Last season marked the first time that Dallas missed the playoffs for the first time in four years and marked the second time since Doncic became a team member. Doncic had another fabulous season, setting career marks with 32.4 points a game and 49.6 field goal percentage. He also cut his turnovers by one a game from 4.6 to 3.6. Tim Hardaway Jr. regained his three-point shooting form after a poor 2021-22 season, and Josh Green had a career year. However, Christian Wood struggled in his lone season, and the Mavs were awful on the defensive end.
Best Offseason Move: Trading For Grant Williams
I’m not sure how good of a move bringing in Williams will be though he does have v lue. The Mavericks had said all season long that one of their priorities was improving their wing defense and rim protection. However, Williams was a relatively cheap option, as all it cost them was Reggie Bullock and a few future draft picks.
Last season, the Mavs were 26th in defensive rating, 28th in block shots, and 22nd in opponent two-point field goal percent ]age. Moreover, they permitted their opponents to shoot 65.6% within three feet of the rim and 44.9% from 5-to-9 feet, ranking in the bottom third of the league.
The 6-6 forward has been lauded for his defense throughout his career, but he was mainly used as an undersized four or five-man with the Celtics. While Williams is still considered an above-average defender due to his physical play, his reputation took a little hit in that department, and he is not a shot-blocker. However, he will compete and bang in the low post, which helped him remain one of the best defenders close to the basket.
Offensively, Williams mainly parks behind the three-point line and waits for someone to set him up, with 56.6% of his career field goal attempts being three-pointers. The 25-year-old, who is nearly a career 38% shooter from beyond the arc, will also get an occasional offensive reb und. Dallas was the worst offensive and overall rebounding team in terms of percentage in 2022-23.
Worst Offseason Move: Re-signing Kyrie Irving
While re-signing Irving was almost inevitable, the Mavericks severely overpaid for him. Despite reports that there was not much of a market for Irving, the Mavericks gave him a three-year deal worth $120 million, a considerable overpay. The bigger issue is whether Doncic and Irving are good fits together.
Irving is still very talented and one of the top scorers in the league when he is on top of his game. Something he showed in his short stint with the Mavericks’ last se son. The 31-year-old point guard averaged 27.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and just 1.7 turnovers in his 20 games with the team. He made 2.5 treys a game while compiling a shooting slash line of .510/.392/ 947. Irving registered seven 30-point games.
However, the Mavericks were just 8-12 in the games Irving played, including 5-11 with Irving and Doncic.
As expected, Irving and Doncic were fantastic on the offensive end. The duo combined for 57.1 points on around 50% shooting from the field and 13 assists, and five turnovers a game. The Mavericks averaged 120.6 points a game in the 16 contests the duo played together, three more points than they compiled in the 27 contests after Irving’s acquisition.
However, defense was a pro lem. The Mavs allowed 120 points, nearly two more than they allowed since February 8th. The biggest issue with the two was they struggled to guard the three-point line, defensive rebounding, and fouling.
What’s Next? Upgrade Center Position
Dallas’ other big task this offseason was to upgrade their center position. It hasn’t happened despite having four players in the position. Last year, the Mavericks centers ranked in the bottom third in the league as a group. They were the third worst in rebounding.
As it currently stands, Powell projects to start. Holmes will be the primary product, followed by JaVale McGee and Lively. Powell is very limited offensively, while Holmes is a disaster on the defensive end. Meanwhile, there are rumors that McGee will be released before training camp.
Lively is just 19 years old, but he showed his potential during the 2K24 Summer League. In five Vegas games, Lively averaged 8.4 points on 68% shooting from the field and 8.0 rebounds (3.2 offensive) in 23.4 minutes a game. He scored in double figures twice and recorded one double-double.
Dallas has been rumored to be trying to effort Clint Capela away from the Atlanta Hawks. However, the Mavs haven’t made traction on that front.
The Dallas Mavericks currently have 14 players on standard contracts. The Mavs are $ .1 million below the NBA luxury cap. They have three-quarters of their non-taxpayer mid-level exemption and their bi-annual exception. Possibly, more importantly, they have a $4.9 million trade exception.