The Dallas Mavericks are an intriguing team going into this season. Part of the reason why is that most expect them to take another step after finishing fifth in the Western Conference last season. However, they were bounced in the first round after gaining a 2-0 lead on the Los Angeles Clippers. Rick Carlisle stepped down and Jason Kidd was hired as head coach to help mentor Luka Doncic.
There are many statements being made about this year’s squad, but we’ve got you covered with our Fact or Fiction series. It features the biggest claims being made about the Mavericks and gives you the answer with a decisive fact or fiction.
Make sure to check out all of our other Fact or Fiction articles.
The Mavericks are Title Contenders as Presently Constructed
If the Mavericks acquired another star to play alongside Doncic, they’d be a title contender. That didn’t happen. Dallas was bounced in the first round last year. Their team looks essentially identical to last year’s team. So why should we think the results will be vastly different this year?
The only big change was the hiring of Kidd, who has a losing record as a head coach. Reggie Bullock was brought in to provide some defensive depth but he doesn’t make them a title contender. The Mavericks didn’t even have a draft pick so it’s not like they had any young talent coming in. There are other contenders who improved more than Dallas this offseason.
The Los Angeles Lakers brought in Russell Westbrook. The Golden State Warriors get Klay Thompson back. The Phoenix Suns brought back Chris Paul, Cameron Payne and acquired Landry Shamet. The Denver Nuggets signed Jeff Green and get Jamal Murray back. Then there are teams like the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers (if Kawhi Leonard is healthy come the playoffs), who are simply better than Dallas. The Mavericks, meanwhile, had to hire a new coach and didn’t bring in a star to pair with Doncic. They are in the same bucket as the Portland Trailblazers. A team that has a generational talent but not enough around him.
Verdict: Fiction, the Western Conference is Stacked Again
Kristaps Porzingis is Under Pressure to Perform
The Mavericks don’t have another star next to Doncic but Porzingis could emerge as that star if he stays healthy. In his first season with the Mavericks, Porzingis scored 20.4 points per game and grabbed 9.5 rebounds. Last season he averaged 20.1 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. Those numbers aren’t bad. In fact, his rebounding numbers in the last two seasons were better than any of his three years with the Knicks. He’s shown he can be an impact player.
However, he hasn’t quite shown he can stay on the court. He missed the entire 2018-19 season due to a torn ACL. Then he played only 57 games in the 2019-2020 season and 43 last year. Injuries happen and they can’t always be prevented. But, it’s obvious that there’s pressure on Porzingis to stay healthy and perform in the playoffs. That pressure was only elevated when the Mavericks didn’t acquire another star in the offseason.
He only averaged 13.1 points a game in last season’s playoffs. That isn’t good enough even if Doncic is scoring 46 points as he did in Game 7 against the Clippers. If Porzingis can stay healthy and score 20 points a game in the playoffs, the Mavericks could win in the first round and maybe get lucky in the second round. If he can’t stay healthy and doesn’t perform in the playoffs, the Mavericks might not even get past round one.
Verdict: Fact, It will be Hard to Win Without Him
Doncic will Win the 2021-2022 MVP Award
Doncic was the favorite to win the MVP last year and he started off slow. However, he still ended up averaging 27.7 points per game. Odds are he’ll have a better season this time around but he’ll still fall short of the MVP. There might be more offensive firepower than we’ve ever seen before in the NBA.
Stephen Curry could be even better next year with defenses having to focus on Klay Thompson. If Kevin Durant, James Harden, and LeBron James stay healthy, they will be in the conversation for the MVP because their teams will be one or two seeds in their respective conferences. Joel Embiid will be hungry to get an MVP and might have to carry Philadelphia again if Ben Simmons still struggles to shoot. Not to mention Giannis Antetokounmpo, who solidified himself as one of the two best players in the world when he won the championship.
Doncic is going to be in the MVP conversation because of how he will carry the Mavericks similar to how Damian Lillard will need to carry Portland. However, it’s always smart to take the field over one player. There’s just an abundance of talent around the league that makes it tougher for Doncic to win it.
Verdict: Fiction, Take the Field
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