Media Day has come and gone, and the Dallas Mavericks are now in the middle of training camp, preparing for the preseason opener at home against the Shanghai Ducks on Saturday. Before we know it, real NBA basketball will be here, and there’s plenty of reasons to be excited about this new Mavs season and their rejuvenated roster, despite the team only winning 24 games a year ago. With that in mind, we asked our staff for their predictions for how many wins they expect from the Mavs this season:
What are your Mavs record predictions for this season? What are your reasons for these predictions?
Jordan (@Jbrodess): I think somewhere in the range of 35-38 wins is fair. And I’ll add that that should be seen as a solid bounce back from what has been two really tough seasons. Anything pushing 40+ should be seen as a wild success (playoffs or no). I think this team is going to be really fun. And I think the tools are there to make major improvement. Does that drop them in to that 8/9/10 window, fighting for a that final playoff spot? Maybe. To me, that doesn’t really matter in terms of measuring this team’s season. That would just be the cherry on top. I’m feeling good today, so put me down for a record of 38-44 — three more wins than I predicted last season. I was way off. But, at least I didn’t predict 44 wins, like someone else here...
Ian (@SmitheeMMB): I agree with Jordan that the likeliest range seems like 34-38 wins, which would represent a nice jump from last year though not the playoff berth the team is hoping for. It isn’t news, but the Western Conference is a juggernaut and even cracking the top 10 -- let alone the top 8 -- will be a tall task. If Jimmy Butler is traded to the East(as of this writing he’s still in Minnesota), the math is altered slightly but not enough to necessarily swing the door open.
After two dreary seasons, and with no draft incentive to continue losing, I’m really just looking for fun, competitive basketball, and I see plenty of reasons to think we’ll finally get that back again. The additions of Doncic and DeAndre give the Mavs an identity and with continued development from Dennis Smith Jr and Harrison Barnes, Dallas should hopefully be trending toward becoming a contender again in the near-future.
Dalton (@dalton_trigg): Yes, it was me... I predicted the Mavs to go 44-38 last season, and I have to own that. But what Jordan didn’t tell you, is that I made it very clear that health would be the biggest factor to make that best-case scenario happen. It was before we found out Seth Curry wouldn’t play a single game and before we knew Nerlens Noel would be eating hotdogs at halftime, followed by questionable finger surgery and a suspension due to violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy. Whew... should I keep going about all the questionable no-calls for Dennis Smith Jr. (something that I researched and then was further validated by a FiveThirtyEight report later in the season), or the fact that the Mavs blatantly tanked the last month of the season (they lost a league-high 38 games in “clutch situations” overall)?
Okay, sorry about that. My venting session is over. Losing hurts, and this offseason has been entirely too long. Anyway, I’m going for redemption this season by predicting the same record as I did last year, 44-38. But really, like Rick Carlisle told Mark Followill on media day, I don’t want to put a number limit on this team.
Luka Doncic and DeAndre Jordan are real game-changers for the Mavs, which shouldn’t be news to anyone, but I think their potential impact gets understated a little bit. Although one player doesn’t account for an entire win total, the fact remains that the last two Mavs 50-win seasons involved Tyson Chandler. And now they have a guy that will surely be even better than Tyson was. Doncic’s elite playmaking ability for his size is something that will open things up for the rest of his teammates. I believe he’ll be a better version of what the Mavs had originally hoped Chandler Parsons would be. After two straight disheartening years of missing the playoffs, I understand why people are hesitant to be optimistic, but I just can’t help it, guys. The Mavs are finally making it back to the playoffs this year, and I feel like I have much more of solid case for that claim now than I did last season.
Doyle (@TheKobeBeef): I’ve said it all summer, they look like a team that will win 35 games. And that’s not a bad thing. That’s an 11 game improvement over last season. At media day Carlisle alluded to their win total predictions from league observers like Las Vegas odds-makers and dumb bloggers like us. Carlisle simply said that his expectation of the team is that, “We’re going to be better.” He refused to toss out a number and I think that’s the right approach for him to take. There are too many variables that factor into what can and can’t be considered a successful season. He made it a point to say that the team will focus on the defensive end, to passing the ball more, and to learning how to play together. That’s perfect. And hey, if that nets them more than 35 wins, even better. At the very least, this team should be fun again, so enjoy the ride.
Oh, and if you want me to end this on a high note, Carlisle did talk about taking the Pistons from a 32-win team to 50 wins the following year. There’s your Dalton Ray Of Hope™ for the day.