As I mentioned in the game recap last night, I spent most of the evening on Mavs Moneyball’s Twitter account asking folks about their favorite storylines for the season, retweeting them all. As sad as it is that the Mavericks have an under-.500 record for the first time in forever, and that we won’t be talking about the playoffs for the next couple weeks, personally I feel that there were so many wonderful stories surrounding Dallas this year that it was hard to feel sad.
The 2016-17 Mavericks were fun. There. I said it. So we asked the staff: what were your favorite stories of this season?
Check out their responses below and tell us your favorites in the comments!
Dirk dropping some 30K Magic, the emergence of deadly assassin Seth Curry, and Yogi Mania were all great, but I've got to go back to my first article this season and say that the Harrison Barnaissance is the most important storyline from this year.
When I originally made my tongue-in-cheek prediction that Harrison Barnes would reinvent his career in Dallas, it was more blind optimism than analysis. When we signed him in the summer he was coming off a magnificently horrible run of form. He laid major bricks in the Finals as the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead (insert joke here) to the Cavs and on the season his points per game and three point percentage had both digressed from the previous year. Then, Barnes went to the Rio Olympics and had almost all of basketball twitter clown on him while he rode the pine. And after that, he played such a miserable preseason that Dirk infamously said he thought Barnes was a bust.
Now the dude is the capital T Truth.
Not only is he consistently pouring in 20 efficient points per game, he's shown the ability to take over in clutch situations and he seems like a pretty darn good mentor for younger players as well. Talent is hard to replace, and character is harder still. Barnes has proven that he has both in spades and it does my Dirk-dependent heart a lot of good to see him in Dallas, ready to usher in a new era.
Going against the grain here. The acquisition of Nerlens Noel was my favorite moment of this otherwise dreadful season.
The emergence of Harrison Barnes was great, so was Seth Curry turning into a never-ending flamethrower. Hell, even Yogi Mania was on another level the likes of which we will never see again. But the addition of Noel, by shipping the corpse that was Andrew Bogut and the disappointing Justin Anderson to Philadelphia for a 23-year-old athletic big man who has yet to tap into his potential gave me hope for the future of the Mavericks. And they will be cementing that future when they match any max offer Noel receives this summer as a restricted free agent. And then there's the matter of a top-10 pick coming to Dallas this summer.
The post-Dirk future has never looked brighter, and Dallas' play in February and March proved the light at the end of the tunnel is much closer than it appeared after that 3-17 start. I am here and ready for a full year of a Barnes-Noel-Curry trio that will push the Mavericks back into some sort of playoff contention.
Danny stole mine :(
So I'll say that Seth stepping out of his brother's lengthy shadow was my favorite. Early on, I guessed that Seth would probably play in most every game and have a defined role, which would probably lead to career highs in most statistical categories. I was not brave enough to hope that he would go on to start over half the games he played in, double his scoring average from last season, and shoot 43% from range the entire year.
He'll probably never be the star of this team, but dude has proven himself to be a valuable NBA starter. I don't know if his future is at point guard, shooting guard, or even 6th man a la Jason Terry, but I do know that I can't wait to see what he does going forward.
Seeing a big free agent catch finally come through and TBH exceed 85 percent of people's expectations has to be the storyline of the season. Barnes gives Dallas a 20 points per game scorer who can run, rebound and switch on defense for the next three years. And he's not even 25! He really gives the Mavericks a base to build the rest of the team around, even if Cuban is saying he wants to make Harrison the second best player on the team.
The other fun storyline is the emergence of youth throughout the team. Whether it was initially through free agency (Seth Curry), off the undrafted rookie pile (Dorian Finney-Smith, Nico Brussino), a 10-day contract experiment working out (Yogi Ferrell) or seeing previous picks showing some development (AJ Hammons), it's likely the Mavs found 3-5 rotation players next year who will grow with the team or serve as trade chips for a bigger prize.
Dirk 30k was my favorite moment of the season. Although it was expected, seeing your favorite player do something that only 5 other players in NBA history have accomplished is really special. It gave me goosebumps listening to Mark Followill when it happened.
The Nerlens Noel trade is a close 2nd though, being that:
1) I couldn't actually believe we acquired a young talented center like Nerlens for essentially Justin Anderson and two 2nd round picks.
2) He's the best center we've had on the roster since Tyson Chandler, and has the potential to be even more than that going forward.
There's an undercurrent to all the responses so far: Youth.
For the first time in recent memory, the Mavericks have set themselves up well for the future. At season's end, there are nine players age 26 and under on the roster, Seth Curry being the oldest.
When the season began, this wasn't the intent. The roster was once again comprised of veterans flanking Dirk in order to make a playoff run. On paper, the roster looked sound. In practice, it didn't work. And then injuries took their toll.
In actuality, this may be the one instance that injuries actually helped a team. They forced the Mavs to go into a rebuilding lite mode. Harrison Barnes shifted into a feature role. Seth Curry saw minutes, eventually leading to him emerging as a consistent offensive threat. Dorian Finney-Smith defended some of the best players in the league. Yogi Ferrell made the most of his 10-day contract, quickly proving that he belongs in the league. And they traded for Nerlens Noel, a move that has massive ramifications for the future.
The youth movement is the story of the season. Dallas looks poised for the next several seasons and that's a good thing.
My favorite storyline has got to be the emergence of young talent. As a starting point, the fact that I’m able to sit here and wonder who the best young player was is a drastic improvement for a team that has consistently opted for veterans over the youth movement. For the first half of the season, my favorite storyline was the play of Harrison Barnes. After a rocky preseason had Mavs fans across the land worried about a potential bust signing, Barnes averaged nearly 20 points per game, solidly guarded multiple positions, and stayed healthy all year. While he still needs to prove himself to be considered a legitimate All Star, Barnes represents hope for a post-Dirk future.
My favorite storyline for the second half of the season has to be Seth Curry making a name for himself. I’ll be the first to admit that I was very critical of Seth early on in the season. I even categorized him as a shooter that couldn’t shoot. Curry not only started making his open catch-and-shoot jumpers, but began initiating the offense, and often carrying it in crunch time as he averaged just under15 points a game in his time as a starter. Curry’s emergence into not just a solid role player, but a dangerous scorer was a blast to watch.