2018-19 Season Preview Extravaganza | Have The Mavericks Found Their Next International Superstar?
Twenty-nine different opposing NBA teams will walk through the doors of Target Center to play the Wolves this season, and we want you to know as much as you can about all of them. We’re going worst to first in order of last year’s standings and telling you everything you need to know. Next up, a Mavs squad that finally got their guy… twice.
Players Acquired: G/F Lukca Doncic (draft), C DeAndre Jordan (free agency), G Jalen Brunson (draft), G Ryan Broekhoff (free agency).
Players Lost: G Yogi Ferrell (free agency), F Doug McDermott (free agency), G Seth Curry (free agency).
Despite good years from two promising young players, the Mavs struggled in 2017-18. They finished with a record of 24-58, good for 13th place in the conference. The story of the year was the development of the Mavs’ young guns Harrison Barnes and Dennis Smith Jr.
It feels like Barnes has been in the league for a long time, but he’s still only 25. In Barnes’ two years with the Mavs he is averaging 19 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.3 three-pointers while shooting 45.7 percent from the field. Those are solid numbers but Barnes is unlikely to become a superstar. Luckily, it seems like the Mavericks’ hopes don’t rest solely on his shoulders.
Last year, the Mavs brought in Dennis Smith Jr., a super-athletic point guard with a ton of upside. Smith scored 15.2 points per game to go along with 5.2 assists in his rookie year. The Mavs certainly hope he takes another step forward this year.
The rest of the Mavs roster in 2017-18 was largely made up of players that don’t fit into their long-term plans. Dirk Nowitzki is a Hall of Famer and one of the best to ever play the game, but his best days are behind him. Now he’ll turn his focus to helping the franchise with which he has played his entire career prepare for a future without him.
The Mavs pushed their chips into the middle of the table and traded up to select Lukca Doncic in the 2018 draft. Doncic is the type of player with the potential to fundamentally alter a franchise for years to come. The Mavs also brought in a proven high-level center in DeAndre Jordan that they’ve been after for years. This suggests that the team thinks it’s ready to win soon, if not this season.
The Big Question
How good will Doncic be?
There are those (and I count myself among this group) who think the 19-year-old European phenom is a generationally-talented prospect. I don’t think there’s much question that the man has skills. Some of the things he does on the court are… insane. He’s creative, he’s athletic (don’t listen to anyone who says he isn’t), he’s smart and he has incredible vision.
The question to me isn’t will Doncic be good, but how high he can take the Mavs. Carrying a FIBA team is impressive, but carrying an NBA team is another matter. By all accounts, Doncic is ready for the challenge, but the scrutiny he’ll be under every game and the weight of expectations that comes with being so highly touted could get to anyone.
The Mavs will be handing Doncic the keys to their franchise, but there are enough pieces around him to help drive the car. However, while Barnes and Smith Jr. are solid players, in the end the Mavs will go as far as Doncic can take them.
How Do The Wolves Beat Them?
Let’s just say it’s going to be more difficult than last year.
With DeAndre Jordan in the middle, Karl-Anthony Towns will need to use his outside shooting skills to open up the paint for the offense. On defense, Jimmy Butler will likely draw the assignment of guarding Doncic, where he’ll need to be physical and aggressive and try to bully Doncic. There’s no need to get cute with things, the Wolves need to front up and play physical with the Mavs.
Andrew Wiggins will also be important in these matchups playing against Barnes. If he can win that matchup, the Wolves will be in good shape.
The Mavs are another team that substantially improved over the offseason, but it might not matter in such a crowded West. Even if they win 10-15 more games than they did in 2017-18, which is likely, they’re still looking at a finish somewhere between 9 and 12 in the West.
I have them finishing with the No. 12 seed in the West, but I very well could be wrong. In any other year I'd say the Mavs are the type of team that could easily sneak into the playoffs. Because so much of the team has changed, there might not be a team outside of Memphis that is harder to predict. If Doncic is the second coming, this team will be good, if he starts off slower they’re headed back to the lottery. Either way though, the future is very, very bright.
Describe This Team In 15 Words Or Less
Everyone’s favorite League Pass team. Won’t make the playoffs.
So When Can I See Them?
The Wolves play the Mavs on the road on Saturday, Oct. 20 and Wednesday Apr. 3.
They’ll welcome the team to Target Center on Friday, Jan. 11.