Folks, we’ve made it. The long slough between Summer League and resumption of NBA basketball is finally over. The Dallas Mavericks are back in action. While it may be a preseason game, it’s basketball nonetheless. Rejoice and be glad in it.
This is the first of four very theme-oriented preseason games for the Mavs. That theme, if you’re wondering, is China. Tonight, Dallas is hosting the Beijing Ducks of the Chinese Basketball Association. For their second two games, the Mavericks will fly to China where they will play two games against the Philadelphia 76ers before returning to the United States.
So, without further delay, let’s talk about basketball!
Who are the Beijing Ducks?
Glad you asked. They’re a Chinese basketball team that plays professional basketball in China.
OK, so I don’t know much about the Ducks. What I can tell you is that they are Stephon Marbury’s former team. Marbury cemented his iconic status in China with the club from 2011-17. During that time, the Ducks won three CBA championships in 2012, 2014, and 2015.
Last season, Justin Hamilton, a Croatian-American who was drafted by the Sixers in 2012, led the Ducks in scoring. He accounted for 24 percent of the team’s total scoring and averaged 24.6 points, 11 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.9 blocks per game.
Who will the Mavs start?
We know that Harrison Barnes is out for an indefinite amount of time with a hamstring injury. Dirk Nowitzki is also dealing with sore tendons in the ankle he had surgery on in April. It’s unlikely that he will play, too. Even with these key players out, the Mavericks will roll out the majority of their projected regular starters.
Head Coach Rick Carlisle told reporters at Friday’s practice that the likely starters will be Dennis Smith Jr., Wesley Matthews, Dorian Finney-Smith, Luka Doncic, and DeAndre Jordan. This will be Doncic’s first appearance as an NBA player so buy your tickets now, y’all!
It’s Ding’s world, we just live in it
As the Mavericks roll through China this preseason, they have arguably the best Chinese player on their training camp roster. Ding Yanyuhang is a bonafide star in China. He’s been named the CBA’ MVP for the past two seasons playing for the Shandong Golden Stars. Last season, Ding averaged 26 points on 47.1 percent shooting, 5.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.6 steals.
If his name rings a bell (no pun intended) it’s because Ding also played for the Mavericks’ Summer League teams in both Orlando and Las Vegas in 2017. In Vegas, fans loved him so much that they chanted “M-V-P” for him as he stepped to the free throw line one game. Needless to say, he’s going to be a BIG hit when he takes the floor in the two games against the 76ers in China.
How to watch
7:30 p.m. Central, FSSW Plus
There you have it. Basketball is back. Breathe it in. Exhale. Breathe in again. Doesn’t it feel good? Yes. Yes, it does.