The NBA team no one is talking about

The Dallas Mavericks will surprise people

By on October 8, 2019

For many basketball fans, this upcoming season brings a different level of anticipation. The massive amount of player movement among stars is a major reason for this added excitement.

Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant (out this upcoming season with a ruptured Achilles), Jimmy Butler, D’Angelo Russell, Mike Conley, Al Horford and Kemba Walker are all all-star caliber players who have changed uniforms since the last time they played in an NBA arena.

From Mavs.com

Many of the teams who acquired the aforementioned players are penciled in to make the postseason before anyone has had a chance to see it how it all melds on the court. These are the “sexy” teams that will have all the nationally televised games and talked about on sports debate shows regularly. One team that has not made any splashy moves this offseason and not receiving any amount of playoff buzz before the start of the NBA season is the Dallas Mavericks.

Last year, the Mavericks went 33-49 in the regular season. They finished outside the playoff picture in a three-way tie for 12th in the Western Conference standings. Besides NBA legend Dirk Nowitzki’s retirement, the most notable thing that happened for the team last year was their trade for the New York Knicks’ injured star big man Kristaps Porzingis seven days before the trade deadline on Jan. 31.

In the trade’s totality, Dallas received Courtney Lee, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke alongside Porzingis. They gave up Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews and two future first-round draft picks. The Mavericks also sent their second-leading scorer at the time, Harrison Barnes, to the Sacramento Kings for Justin Jackson and Zach Randolph.

The major reworking of Dallas’ roster midway through the season played a part in them finishing low in the deep western conference. Although they were never truly in the playoff hunt, most basketball watchers will acknowledge that pulling off 33 wins in the vaunted Western Conference is a feat they should be proud of. Especially when the team’s best player was standout Slovenian rookie Luka Doncic.

Doncic was by far Dallas’ biggest bright spot after having one of the best rookie seasons in NBA history. As a 19-year-old for half of the season, he averaged 21.2 points, six assists and 7.8 rebounds in 72 games according to basketball-reference.com. He deservedly won the Rookie of the Year award and besides a gaudy stat line, he passed the eye test with flying colors.

He was consistent in his production, impressive against proven elite players, remarkable with his arsenal of step-back three-pointers and composed in his fair share of pressure heightened games. Although it is not always wise to have high expectations from any young player, let alone one going into his second year, Doncic is a talent worth betting on to get the Mavs a few more wins withstanding any important injuries to himself or the team.

From Mavs.com

The offseason for the Dallas Mavericks was fairly quiet given that they made two sizable trades last season. They prioritized keeping rotation players like J.J. Barea, Dwight Powell, Dorian Finney-Smith, Maxi Kleber and Devin Harris on manageable contracts. The Mavs did add a couple of nice backcourt players: Delon Wright and Seth Curry.

Wright is a 27-year-old point guard that will bring past winning experience from his time playing for the Toronto Raptors. He has good size at 6-foot-5, which is a rarity for Dallas guards, and should be a solid fit with Doncic since he has a game that doesn’t rely on playmaking too much.

Curry is making a return to Dallas and will be adding shooting after having a season with the Portland Trailblazers where he shot 45% from the three-point line according to basketball-reference.com. He also has some familiarity with the team since he played for head coach Rick Carlisle two seasons ago.

The final worthwhile addition the Mavs brought is 7-foot-3-inch and 290-pound center Boban Marjanovic. He obviously will bring immense size to their frontcourt and has displayed better than expected touch when shooting 10 feet and in.

Now as good as Doncic and some of the rotation players are for the Mavericks, what will make them a team to make noise in the West will be the insertion of a healthy Porzingis.

On Feb. 6, 2018, Porzingis tore his left ACL and hasn’t played since. There were some mumblings of a very late return last season but there was no point in having him play meaningless games. Nearly two years since he last suited up for an NBA game, Porzingis will play for his new team with what apparently looks to be a new body.

In every recent picture and video clip of Porzingis, he does not resemble his former 7-foot-3-inch and 240-pound self from the first three years of his career. According to Mavericks reporter Tamara Jolee, Mavericks director of athletic performance Jeremy Holsopple said that Porzingis has gained an additional 16-17 pounds.

Most of the weaknesses in Porzingis’ game spanned from his thin frame and overall lack of strength. From being bodied in the paint when trying to grab any rebound, unable to finish through significant contact when driving to the rim and incapable of consistently backing his man in the post, Porzingis has flagrant deficiencies that could easily be exploited by good teams.

What made him amazing was the fact that he could overcome those weaknesses to still have a season where he averaged according to basketball-reference.com 22.7 points, 2.4 blocks, 1.9 three-point makes and 39.5% from beyond the arc in the 48 games he played in 2017-18 season.

Now that the “Unicorn,” as Porzingis is famously referred to, is bigger, he and Doncic can be an underrated dynamic duo barring health issues. In basketball where only two stars can catapult a team to playoff contention, why can’t the Mavs pull off a 46-win season instead of the over-under win total of 41.5 according the Westgate Current?

With the “Unicorn” becoming what looks to be a rugged mustang, why can’t the Mavericks be in the NBA rodeo by April?

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