With the 2022 NBA Finals in full swing, it might be a little easier for the Dallas Mavericks to look towards the 22-23 season. However, many in the Mavericks organization, as well as fans, may still be imagining what could have been.
The Mavs advanced to the Western Conference Finals only to lose 4-1 to the Golden State Warriors. Simply put, they didn’t play their best basketball.
However, the future’s bright for this organization. Let’s take a look at what’s ahead for Dallas as it heads towards the NBA Draft and the NBA Summer League.
What Players Should the Mavericks Build Around?
It’s no secret that the Mavericks have a bonafide franchise player in Luka Dončić. Luka is only 23 years-old and has already established that he can be a top 5 player in the NBA.
Other than Luka, Dallas doesn’t really have another star player on their roster since they parted ways with Kristaps Porziņģis, who is now on the Washington Wizards. However, it’s clear it has good pieces to build around Luka and perhaps the front office can get creative in order to bring another star.
Keeping Brunson Key
Among the Mavs’ pieces is guard Jalen Brunson. Brunson brings playmaking, shotmaking, and hustle. He’s set to be a free agent this summer, though. The Mavs will likely try very hard to keep him, but Brunson may have played his way into a larger contract than expected and will attract strong interest from other teams.
In addition to Brunson, the Mavs should plan to incorporate Spencer Dinwiddie more into the team’s offense and rotation. Dinwiddie, once a large piece of the Brooklyn Nets, is another player who can get 20 points a night — he just needs to stay healthy and be consistent.
Two other players Dallas should continue to invest in are Tim Hardaway Jr. and Dorian Finney-Smith. Hardaway was injured during the Golden State series and Finney-Smith struggled. However, if the Mavs can get them to play to their potential that should go a long way in making their overall team better and allow Luka to get others involved.
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How Can the Mavericks Improve in 2023?
First and foremost, the Mavericks can improve by continuing to develop their young superstar in Dončić. He has all the offensive tools to be great, but this offseason, look for him to focus on getting into shape and improving his defensive skills. Both are weaknesses in the eyes of many, and it was clear during the Western Conference Finals that Golden State targeted him on the defensive end.
Another Wing Needed?
Secondly, the Mavericks need more shooting and playmaking from their wing players. Brunson is another point guard and will operate in the paint, so don’t expect him to space the floor from the wing. To date, Dallas has relied on Reggie Bullock and Finney-Smith to space the floor on the wing – but they weren’t able to deliver during the postseason.
Perhaps the Mavs will look elsewhere during free agency.
Size Needed Inside
Lastly, the Mavericks could use some more interior defense and size. It’s been quite some time since they’ve had a workhorse in the paint. Tyson Chandler comes to mind but he hasn’t been in Dallas since 2015. The Mavs need a rebounder and defender in the middle to limit second chance opportunities, something that was a backbreaker against the Warriors.
Should Dallas Worry About Luka Leaving?
Nowadays, NBA stars tend to try and take control of their own destiny, ala Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and even LeBron James (when he left Clelvand for Miami). Naturally, some fans are beginning to worry about Luka leaving the Mavericks if they can’t improve.
So far, that theory seems like a longshot. Dallas made great progress year-over-year with its new head coach Jason Kidd. Like Luka, Kidd was an all-NBA point guard and seems to know how to motivate today’s NBA player. Furthermore, the Mavs were a 4-seed and advanced to the Conference Finals with Luka leading the way at 23 years old. And that’s lacking a second star.
If the Mavericks continue to show Luka they are invested in making the team around him better then it’s doubtful that he will want to play elsewhere. If the Mavs land a second star, it would only solidify a new core built around Luka and his skill set.
Icon Sportswire Photo/Jevone Moore