The first Mavericks preseason game of the roller-coaster NBA 2020-21 season starts tomorrow!
Dallas will play only three preseason games as everything will be condensed in the 2020-2021 NBA calendar and it seems like things are moving at lightning speed.
Our editor Josh just wrote a must-read preview about what to watch for during the Mavericks 2020 preseason, so I’ll keep my checklist for the first preseason game short and simple.
Here is what I’m really looking to see tomorrow:
Luka Dončić will be playing basketball again
Yes, we were all hyped about the draft and the new rookies, the offseason, and new roster additions. But Luka is still by far the most exciting reason to watch Mavericks play basketball. His last game against Milwaukee in the Orlando bubble was probably the best regular-season bubble game. We all want to see how Luka looks, and if there will be any first glances of his Year 3 leap.
How serious is the new defense-first mentality?
Most of the talk and roster transformation since the Mavericks last played in the bubble was about defense. Coach Carlisle talked extensively about how the defense was the main priority and focus in the training camp. I’m curious to see if this will be evident tomorrow from the first jump tomorrow.
First look at Josh Richardson in Mavericks uniform
Josh Richardson was by far the most important addition to the Dallas roster this offseason. Coach Carlisle revealed he sees him as a starter when the season starts. I wrote an extensive deep-dive on Richardson (coming next week) and why he might make or break the Maverick's upcoming season. As for the first game, I just want to see Richardson in a Mavericks uniform for the first time.
A Dwight Powell alley-oop dunk
Dwight Powell is back from his Achilles injury and every Mavericks fan should cheer for him. Coaching staff, he is 100% recovered and there will be no restrictions, even in preseason games.
He is a key player in Mavericks rotation, a glue guy who sets the culture, and a player whose contribution (as per coach Carlisle) goes way beyond the box score.
A lot of his game depends on his athleticism, so in the first preseason game, I would just love to see him finish one of his signature alley-oop dunks…that would say ‘I’m back, baby!’
Josh Green’s defense and his first three pointer
Dallas had a solid draft, drafting Josh Green, Tyler Terry, and Tyler Bey. However, this year will not be kind to rookies as there was no summer league and a proper rookie onboarding. Josh Green is probably the rookie, because of his skill set and a role, that has the highest chance to make an impact early on. His role will be simple: defend and hit open threes. In the first game, I would like to see him defend a real NBA wing (like Chris Middleton or Jrue Holiday) for a possession or two, then hit his first of many open 3s.
BONUS: What I’m not looking forward to seeing
Call me a party pooper, but I don’t want to see Willie Cauley-Stein shoot threes. Based on his social media stories, Cauley-Stein worked a lot on his three-point shot in the offseason. I just don’t know if that should be his priority, as he is a career 61% free throw shooter, and a way below-average mid-range shooter. He made four 3s in his five-year NBA career. Him shooting threes sounds like a guy skipping high-school to go to a college.
Willie has the physical tools that Mavericks really need badly, and are a perfect fit for their system. I would like to see him set great screens for Luka, roll to the rim, and run the floor hard. I would like to see Willie be elite in the area he is well-equipped to be elite, rather than try to be average in the area he probably just doesn’t have skills for.
How to watch
The game is on NBA League Pass via the Bucks RSN or you can watch the game on the Dallas website www.Mavs.com and the game starts at 7:00 pm CST.