The Mavericks have lost... well a lot of games since All-Star break. Just a single game, actually They’ve been sloppy on offense, usually bad on defense, and generally trending towards boring to watch with a few exceptions. We checked in with the staff to see how everyone’s handling things:
Jordan: I openly admit that October through mid-January I was very against the worst case scenario of the Mavericks giving up the 6th pick to the Atlanta Hawks -- that is being bad enough to get that close to keeping the pick, only to hand the best possible outcome to Atlanta. But that was before the trades, and before watching what this roster is right now.
You can call it whatever organic thing you’d like, but the truth is this roster is bad and has giant holes right now. And that’s okay...for right now. But the front office has to do some *work* this summer. Yes, second-year Luka, and a hopefully healthy Kristaps Porzingis should be a major plus. But outside of that this team is full of bench role players and virtually no real shooters.
So all things considered I’m handling this final stretch okay in the hopes they land a top four pick and add a young affordable piece, before they have the most important July for the franchise in a long time.
Sam: I’m handling it okay, mainly because I get to watch Luka Doncic play basketball (If he sits for any period of time, I will not be okay anymore). I can’t imagine a world where Doncic rests and Tim Hardaway Jr. gets free reign of the court to chuck threes at his discretion. For the rest of the season I’m looking for a few things.
I want to see Jalen Brunson continue to play well. Since the all-star break he’s shooting nearly 50 percent, including 35 percent from three. I want to see Kostas Antetokounmpo play. And finally, I want to see Dirk Nowitzki do whatever he wants on the basketball court. Last season’s tank-a-palooza drained me. Then I was gut-punched when the team fell in the lottery. I’m not putting my eggs in any basket in these final games.
Josh: It’s been hard to watch, even if the team is at times more visually pleasing with some more ball movement. Watching Luka will never get old, even if he’s run into a rookie wall (well, by his standards) and we all have to cherish every last minute we get with Dirk Nowitzki on the floor.
By far the most concerning thing as we slog through these final games has been how many times the Mavericks have been absolutely pulverized while playing a rotation that features dudes that should have prominent roles next season. More minutes for Maxi Kleber, Dorian Finney-Smith and Jalen Brunson has been fantastic, but the results are uneven as they are perhaps getting a bit overexposed with the higher workload.
It’s revealed that the Mavericks might have more work to do this summer than we initially thought, but bottom line it’s a good thing the Mavericks waived goodbye to the veterans that weren’t going to make a difference to the new Luka future and are at least trying out some younger pieces.
Kirk: “Be careful what you wish for” is a phrase which keeps crossing my mind. I was the earliest and loudest supporter of putting the ball in Luka’s hands and moving on from the Mavericks of the past. That they managed to do so in the span of a few days while acquiring another cornerstone piece in Kristaps is something I’m still in shock about.
Yet the team’s been brutal in stretches. This is, without question, the worst basketball team Luka Doncic has played on his entire career. How this stretch affects him is something I’m interested in. Watching him gut out a performance against the Spurs when he’s clearly smarting from a knee injury was certainly impressive, yet also a small outrage. We must simply hope he makes it through the season healthy and that perhaps the lottery gods smile down on the Mavericks in June.
Brice: Watching a terrible team while waiting patiently on the future is something I’ve grown used to as a Texas Rangers fan. These last few weeks offer very little in the way of “winning” or “happiness” for fans and will continue on that trend for the rest of the year, unless Kristaps Porzingis suits up and plays the last 15 games or so.
My favorite part of watching/covering a team is the assembly of a contending team from a state of rebuilding. In the years after the championship the team had no plan for a rebuild and now in three years of tanking they’ve assembled a team with two bona fide superstars under 24 and quality role players that are also relatively young.
When I asked Gregg Popovich if he was surprised how fast Dallas was able to rebuild he wasn’t the least bit shocked. I can’t say I felt the same way. For the rest of this season watching Dirk continue his Dirkness and Luka begin his reign of dominance while imagining what adding Kristaps to the mix will help soothe the pain of so many losses.