Last season: 52-30 (lost in conference finals); 15th in offense, sixth in defense
Main additions:C Christian Wood, C JaVale McGee
main deductions: PGjalen brunson, SF Sterling Brown, C. Boban Marjanović, PGTrey Burke
design choices: PGhardy jade(37)
Rarely do you see a successful season finale with more questions.
By all standards,Dallas'The 2021-22 campaign ended near the ceiling of what could have been expected. Not just because the Mavs have eliminated the top seedsphoenix sunwith great wins in the final two games to advance to the Western Conference Finals, but also because of the various concepts tested along the way: that signing Jason Kidd wouldn't be the disaster it was in Milwaukee or Brooklyn; that tradeKristaps Porzingiswas the right way to rearrange a heavy list; and especially that playing five by fiveLuka DončićHis unique talent was a post-season cheat code that few could crack.
Unfortunately, a lot happened after the end of last season. The Mavs lost Brunson, their second-best player in the playoff race, and replaced him with…Wood and McGee? Even after trading his first-round pick to Wood, using the money from the mid-level exception to add another center in McGee drew attention. Meanwhile, there are two people who can haggle the whole list.
They had no choice in the first round due to the lumber trade and ended up taking Hardy in the second round; it might help in the future, but that time is not now, not after posting a 9.9 PER in 25 G League games last season as a 19-year-old.
Even with Brunson's loss, the Mavs are going into the season with $14 million in luxury tax as Dončić's supermax extension kicks off. His salary jumps from a $10 million offer to a $37 million proposal that's still an offer, yes, but one that ties the Mavs' hands more tightly on any moves forward.
The good news is that the Mavs have Dončić, the kind of elite sun-focused offensive star who instantly awards playoff chances to any roster he joins. The pick-and-roll master more or less only shared Phoenix in the second round last season (58.3 percent real shooting on an incredible 41.8 percent usage); including losing the conference final togolden stateThe Mavs' best defense was primarily a result of the Mavs' almost complete inability to control the Warriors' guards.
The bad news is that in addition to Dončić, the Mavs...Spencer Dinwiddie?Dorian Finney Smith? Look, Dallas has some good, valuable role players, and most of them have pretty good contracts. But it's hard to get excited about Dallas marching through the postseason without a second star player on the roster; we've seen Dončić run conspicuously out of gas in playoff games over the last two seasons, even with Brunson at his side. The uncompensated loss of the Mavs' second best shotmaker leaves a big dent, with Dinwiddie the only half-decent option on the roster to fill it. He was great for Dallas in late 2021-22, but his shooting numbers in Mav also far outweighed the rest of his career.
The dent is bigger because of the Mav's salary cap. How exactly would they get another Top 50 player to partner with Dončić?
They are already overstretched and have no prospect of significant salary headroom until 2025 at the earliest; their few young players are not in demand by other teams. Dallas also can't trade a first-round pick until 2025, which devalues some scenarios where it would use draft equity to build the roster. Two bad contracts (davis bertans,Tim Hardaway Jr.) hinder what is different adecent looking cover.
Dallas' best-case scenario is to put every remaining chip on the table for a second-rate star; think ofdonovan mitchelltreat thatclevelanddone for example. The Mavs can trade their first round pick in 2025 as long as they avoid a bottom 10 record this season (when the pick goes to thetrinketsof trade in Porziņģis). That means they can bid on the early table in 2025, 2027 and 2029 and choose swaps in 2026 and 2028; they would probably have to put all that equity on the table as they would use Bertāns (three years, $49 million left on his contract) and Hardaway (three years, almost $54 million) as salary equivalents.
Even those scenarios require fortuitous circumstances: an unlucky star elsewhere, willing to play second fiddle to Dončić, and not so desirable that another team would outbid Dallas' best bid.
Meanwhile, this year's Mavs version will be a slightly more frustrating version of last season. Kidd showed that he has grown as a coach since theDollarsdisaster, especially with his work on the defensive side. The Mavs limited both the opponent's 3-pointers and the opponent's shots to the rim, forcing opponents to beat them from center despite the limited manpower that became more apparent as the playoffs progressed. That said, those limitations are real, and putting Wood in a prominent role will only exacerbate them.
Meanwhile, the Mavs ranked 15th on offense last season, even with Dončić, losing that team's second best offensive player. They were able to go 10-10 last year in the games Dončić missed, including winning two playoff games; it's hard to see it repeating itselfwithoutBrunson.
However, Dallas gave up a late first-round pick and three marketable players to acquire Wood, a solid in-your-face move. Wood has his defensive issues, but he's a multi-talented offensive player who can roll or burst; in that sense, he's arguably even more menacing than the late Porziņģis, and should thrive in a mostly five-out system.
On the offensive side, however, there is still at least one clear opportunity for improvement, one where Wood and McGee could help significantly: The Mavericks might try to pull off a quick breakaway. Once. Just give it a spin. Who knows, they might even like it and try it twice in the same game.
It's one of the weirder subplots in the league. When a team's best maker gets a bunch of defensive rebounds, that team almost automatically becomes a huge threat in transition because they already have the ball in the hands of the most dangerous player. ThinkLeBron JamesOrussel westbrookin its heyday, for example.
Not for Dallas. Dončić led the Mavs in defensive rebounding last season, hitting nearly seven per game…and the Mavs were last in offensive transition play. It was almost as if they were playing a different sport.Philadelphiahe was second worst, still having nearly 10 percent more than Dallas. The Mavs also generated points from transitional games less often than any other team by a wide margin. (Confusingly, this isn't quite the same as the "quick break points" you see in the score box - see table.)
NBA Offensive Transition Games, 2021-22*
* – Fuente: NBA.com
I always thought this was a Rick Carlisle thing, but with Kidd it got even worse in 2021-22; Meanwhile Carlislepacemakerthey were only 25 in crossover frequency, true greyhounds compared to the Mavs. (The remarkable irony of Kidd's success last season is that one of the all-time greatest passers coached a team that wouldn't run unless it had a five-to-nil bye.)
I used to think this was a Dončić thing too, but when I watched Slovenia at the EuroBasket tournament, he generated easy no-pass buckets from his rebounds on seemingly every other trip. This tied into earlier memories of scouting a 16-year-old Dončić in Madrid and seeing him walk down the field with defensive board planks as if he were Bobby Orr.
Now I'm confused. I don't really have a great answer as to why the Mavs never run, but it clearly prevents their offense from reaching their ceiling; one of the reasons they are in the overall league average is that transitions are the easiest baskets. Adding two of the fastest crosses in the game should help here; as well as adding bits of playtime for his more athletic non-centered,jose verde.
The other reason the Mavericks should run more is the big picture of managing Dončić throughout the season. Getting a few starting buckets in transition is much easier for him than dribbling on a high pick-and-roll for 22 seconds and making every call on every play. As mentioned above, we've already seen Dončić wear down at the end of multiple playoff games; He also has enough kilometers on the clock for a 23-year-old and has just a few more on the clock for Slovenia.
In the absence of another trade, the Mavs rely on Dončić to drag them through the regular season to a tricky point; one of the luxuries of having Brunson last season was that the offense still had a fighting chance without Dončić. The Mavs can still lean on some staples of that postseason run, most notably a mismatch-punishing five-out style, which Wood should fit in fairly easily, but without enough shot-makers that could quickly turn into four men looking around at iso's failure.
As a result, I find it hard to see Dallas match their total of 52 wins from last season. The West will be tougher and the Dallas roster looks worse. Without some dramatic seasonal work from the front office, a return to the conference finals seems unlikely.
Prediction: 46-36, eighth West
Mavericks van BORG en BORD$
• DEPOSIT — Expected replacement value, per 100 assets, accHollinger's BORG formula
• BORD$ — Expected value for 2022-23 based onHollinger's BORD$ formula
• (R) — Rookie, no screening available
• (2w) — Player with a mutual contract
Potential closure 5
Dorian Finney Smith
Probably the rest of the list
Tim Hardaway Jr.
And Vale McGee
Jaden Hardy (right)
Tyler Dorsey (2w)
(Photo of Luka Dončić and Spencer Dinwiddie: Kevin Jairaj / USA Today)
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|J. Green #1||PF||32|
|J. Kuminga #0||PF||20|
|J. Poole #3||SG||23|
|K. Looney #5||PF||27|
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