Countdown to NBA Tip-Off: Dallas Mavericks Season Preview

Dallas Mavericks Season Preview
In this photo taken on October 5, 2018, Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks (C) shoots past Dario Saric (R) of the Philadelphia 76ers during their preseason NBA basketball game in Shanghai. (Photo by STR / AFP) / China OUT (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)

After a thunderous summer, the NBA offseason has come to its slow time of the year. But since the league has become a year-long profession, analysts, writers, and media pundits never go without content to talk about in the NBA. The Dallas Mavericks season preview shows they had a solid offseason and are looking to build the foundation they started to build last season.

Dallas Mavericks Season Preview

Recap of Last Season

Adrian Wojnarowski’s report on the night of the 2018 NBA draft had Maverick’s fans going nuts. The franchise had finally utilized the draft and made a big move to find their next superstar. The Mavericks sent an extra future protected first-round pick to swap Trae Young to the Atlanta Hawks for Luka Doncic. By midseason, the trade had already seemed to have worked out in the Mavericks favor. Not only did the Mavericks end up receiving the unanimous Rookie of the Year. They also selected two time NCAA champion Jalen Brunson with the 33rd pick later in the evening.

The big question for the Mavericks was if high flyer Dennis Smith Jr. and Doncic could co-exist together on the same team as ball-dominant players. Smith Jr. was coming off an exceptional rookie campaign the year prior with the lottery placed Mavericks. Early in the season, Smith Jr. had been struggling to fit in the offense with Doncic at times. And then there were times that they looked like they could become a dynamic duo. By January, Dennis Smith Jr. held out of practice and team activities for Dallas.

The Mavericks were in the middle of another transition season, looking to make Doncic the face of the franchise. By the end of January, the Mavericks traded Dennis Smith Jr. to the New York Knicks along with DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, and two future first-round picks for big man Kristaps Porzingis, Trey Burke, Courtney Lee, and Tim Hardaway Jr. The Mavericks took a risk trading for disgruntled star Porzingis but were confident enough in retaining him long term.

The most important story of the season was the greatest Maverick of all time was retiring at the end of the season. Dirk Nowitzki finished his career at age 40 and will rank sixth on the all-time scoring list. Nowitzki saw limited minutes last year due to a nagging injury that required surgery the summer before the season started.

Maverick fans saw a complete overhaul of the roster by March of 2019 and were not a playoff team. Players such as Maxi Kleber, Dwight Powell, Justin Jackson, and Dorian Finney-Smith had shown promise throughout the season. At the end of the 2018 campaign, the Mavericks placed 14th in the western conference. Even though the team didn’t make the playoffs, there was hope in a bright future. The Mavericks had formed a solid nucleus with young talent.

Final Record: 33-49

Placement: 14th in the Western Conference

Offseason changes

A turbulent offseason for the fans would be an understatement. A botched trade with the Miami Heat spawned controversial publicity for Dallas at the beginning of free agency. In a claimed miscommunication with the Miami Heat, the Mavericks ultimately pulled out of the deal. Porzingis was resigned to a five-year max contract on day one of free agency. The Mavericks had been rumored to be chasing after Kemba Walker early in the offseason. But reports claimed that Walker had quickly agreed to a contract with the Boston Celtics even before the moratorium period began.

The Mavericks focused their attention on free-agent guard Danny Green. Putting all of their cap space on hold for nearly a week. The Mavericks might have shot themselves in the foot, as Green ended up signing with the Los Angeles Lakers. Restricted free agents Maxi Kleber and Dorian Finney-Smith both resigned with the team on multi-year deals. Both players had good defensive seasons last year and will provide solid bench depth.

With the market drying up, the Mavericks decided to focus their attention on point guard Delon Wright. The Mavericks traded two second-round pocks in a sign and trade with the Memphis Grizzlies. The trade happened after retaining long-time point guard J.J. Barea on a one year deal worth the veteran minimum.

Boban Marjanovic and Seth Curry also signed to multi-year deals that will give the Mavericks flexibility in the future. Last week, the Mavericks agreed to a rookie contract with Isaiah Roby. The contract signing is the highest salary for a second-round pick of all time. Roby was drafted 45th overall and will occupy the final roster spot for the active roster. The Mavericks lottery pick was set at number 10 but was sent to the Atlanta as part of the Luka Doncic trade a year prior. Without many assets, the Mavericks were quiet on draft night.

Expectations

As usual, Dallas will play a guard-heavy roster in the 2019-2020 season. With a mix of young talent and established veterans, the Mavericks have been projected to place anywhere from the seventh seed to a lottery team. As of July 29th, NBA.com currently has Dallas at 12 in power rankings for the western conference. USA Today has the Mavericks ranked 16th in the league post-free-agency. So it isn’t unfair to say that the national media isn’t sleeping on the Mavericks.

Expect the starting line up to change many times throughout the season. It won’t be until training camp that a clear cut starter will be at the point guard or small forward position. Justin Jackson and Finney-Smith will be battling it out and even rotating slots on the roster.

While Wright seems to be the starting point guard for the Mavericks, don’t sleep on the idea of Brunson getting a start here and there. The team rotation is built upon who they play. That is what makes this team have some of the most valuable depth in the league.

Season Prediction

The Mavericks upcoming season rides upon how Porzingis bounces back from a nearly 20-month long injury. The team has one of the best young cores in the league with average to above-average role players surrounding the core.

Another factor in their success is how the New Orleans Pelicans, San Antonio Spurs, and Sacramento Kings respond to the start of the season. The Los Angeles Clippers will possibly have Paul George out for the beginning of the season. So that will give a couple of teams the possibility to get ahead in the rankings early on.

Dallas has the nucleus to succeed long term, but they don’t have a third piece that can put them into definitive playoff contention right now. Unless of course there is a player on the current roster that has a break-out season. A midseason trade could land them a serviceable player that could compliment Doncic and Porzingis. Unfortunately, due to the Stepien Rule, the Mavericks can not trade their 2020 first-round pick. So that will limit what they can do to upgrade their team in case of a playoff run. 2019-2020 will most likely be another transition year for Dallas but look for the year after to be their breakthrough season to climb the league ladder.

Final Record Prediction: 38-44

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