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Mavs Mailbag: Trades and more trades, who is the Mavericks’ third best, and getting to 50 wins

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The Mavericks have a nice win-streak in the works, and we’re already dreaming about contention.

Dallas Mavericks v Houston Rockets Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Mavericks are in the midst of a nice five-game win streak. While they beat a hobbled Toronto Raptors team at home to start this run, by far the most impressive win in the collection came Sunday afternoon in Houston facing the high-powered Rockets.

As the Mavericks prep for Kawhi and the Clips, let’s take a breath and dig into your questions from the last week. Spoiler: Everyone is a little trade giddy!

@TheAverageBrian: If we didn’t see him last night, in what situations could we expect to see our beloved Jose Juan on the court this year? His only other appearance feels so random in retrospect.

@victor_hyer: Why isn’t JJ playing?

Since this question was posted we’ve had some fun J.J. Barea content. On Wednesday night, in the waning moments of the Mavericks destruction of the Golden State Warriors, fans at the American Airlines Center began to chant for Barea to check in. JJ looked to oblige the crowd and jog to the scorer’s table, only to 180 back to the bench. Maybe Barea should transition to a comedy career.

He did make an appearance when the Mavericks had already put away the Cleveland Cavaliers. Barea looked solid, though it was in garbage time. But the truth is Barea is still working back from injury, and isn’t needed in the rotation at this point. The chemistry seems to be coming together with the young perimeter players.

He will be around this year to mentor young guards, be available should injuries pop up, and perhaps finish out his career in the postseason as a Maverick.

@MasterFo2012: Carlisle said Curry would start next game, although THJ had a great 20 pt game. Coach said you shouldn’t loose your spot if you were hurt. I agree. But Maxi dominated starting vs Toronto, where Powell has struggled. Maxi is clearly the better player. What are your thoughts?

We’ve now seen a few more games with Tim Hardaway Jr. as a starter next to Luka Doncic in the backcourt. Long term, I agree with Carlisle’s sentiment of Curry not losing his spot just because he was sick. But THJ is now on a crazy run. He’s locked in, playing within the flow of the offense and not forcing. I’m skeptical of it continuing for a full season. So I expect there to be some fluidity in that spot. If I’m wrong, the Mavericks may take another big step forward.

Going into Sunday there were five Mavericks lineups that had played at least 20 minutes together this season. Powell was in the three lineups that had a positive Net Rating, while Maxi Kleber is in the two that had a negative Net Rating. I like you, think Kleber is playing a more complete game night in and night out. I don’t think these Net Ratings are telling the full story, but it is intriguing that that’s the split.

LcSwish15: 14 games in, who is the third best Maverick on the team?

The funny thing about this question, is that the answer highlights some positives and negatives about the Mavericks. In one way you can look at it and say the Mavericks have the depth and shooting ability that on any night the third best player could be different. But it is ultimately one of their bigger flaws to date.

There’s only been once or twice this season that the Mavericks had rough showings from both Doncic and Porzingis. One of those night, in Denver, the Mavericks supporting cast all came together and delivered a win.

Answering after these last three games it would appear Tim Hardaway Jr. is their third best player. I’m once again skeptical that’s sustainable. If he does keep this up it’s obviously him. I still believe Delon Wright is their third best player, and may just now be hitting his ideal role. He can be used in a variety of ways, does things on both ends that no one else on the team can, and doesn’t require much attention to be contributor. But this question may linger for much of this season. Speaking of...

@bntzillaguy: Is there another piece we need that we could realistically acquire?

@Luka774MVP: Any news on possible trades? We really need a Defensive C and 3/D wing - perhaps Iggy?

@CliftonHopkins5: What position on the team needs to be upgraded for us to be not just playoff bound but contenders for the West Crown?

The Mavericks need an elite third scoring or two-way option to take that step. Rick Carlisle has perhaps over micromanaged the lineups, but has started to find solid rotations. But the truth is unless Hardaway maintains this really impossible pace, the Mavericks don’t have an obvious answer on a night where Luka Doncic isn’t destroying opponents.

I don’t think a defensive center is what they need. They will likely play Porzingis more at the five the longer the season goes on, and have options in KP and Maxi. Finding a small forward or shooting guard that can be the compliment to the Mavs young duo is the next step in building a contender.

All that said, let’s pump the brakes on trades. First, it’s not likely the Mavs look for a deal until closer to the deadline. Second, to make a deal that matters they will have to forfeit depth. Third, this team is just starting to sort out their chemistry and settle into roles. Give it time and enjoy!

@bntzillaguy: Bill Simmons believes we are a playoff team and that we will win at least 48 games - realistic expectation?

On a recent episode of the Bill Simmons Podcast, Simmons sat down with Marc Stein of the New York Times (and Dallas resident) to talk Luka Doncic and the Mavericks. It’s a great episode. In it, Simmons sounds convinced that the Mavericks may sniff 50 wins.

I’m not there yet, that feels a little insane. There’s so much season left. But I will say, after seeing the fight that the Mavs put up late against the Rockets, I’m nearly bought into the idea that this could be a top six team in the West rather than just sniffing the playoffs.

At the writing of this piece the Mavericks are 11-5. To get to 48 they’ll need to go 37-29 the rest of the way out. That doesn’t seem impossible, though they’ve played a relatively light schedule to date. I believe I predicted 42 wins before the regular seasons, but I feel pretty comfortable saying they’ll get to 45. And that’s a lot of fun!