The Mavericks are coming off their first playoff appearance in four years, which included a thrilling buzzer beater by Luka Doncic, who is also the betting favorite to win MVP this season. Unless injuries derail the season, Dallas is making the playoffs, and match up well against almost every team they’ll potentially face.
Despite all this, there’s still been a lot of talk and conjecture about the summer of 2021. Giannis Antetokounmpo has been everyone’s favorite target to covet, but the two-time MVP took himself off the market by signing a five year extension on Tuesday. Now Mavs’ fans are left to reckon with what this means for the franchise’s plans.
There’ll be other free agents to lust after for sure, as there’s always a discontent superstar waiting to emerge somewhere. I’m sure James Harden will be talked about, as well as Bradley Beal and anyone else who theoretically meshes with Doncic. We’ll endlessly debate their fit and contracts and chemistry, possibly while this year’s team is playing an actual basketball game.
I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t browsed the list of free agents next summer, or delved into some extensive salary cap calculations for the Mavericks’ next few seasons. There’s nothing wrong with playing armchair GM, or engaging in debates about hypotheticals on Twitter. But don’t let an imaginary Mavericks roster distract you from a fun team that exists right now, especially one that could make the NBA Finals with a few lucky breaks.
Doncic is a top five player in the league, and will be a perennial MVP for years to come. When there’s a guy like that on the roster, a team will be in contention every season. Dallas may not be the favorite every year, but there’s always a chance Donnie Nelson will have assembled just the right mix of players around Doncic and the team rolls to a championship. Mavericks’ fans should know this better than anyone.
And no, I’m not telling you to ignore all the rumors and subtle clues which point to whatever the Mavericks’ next big move is. I’m just asking that you appreciate the team you have in front of you.
Pay more attention to Doncic slithering into the paint like a thick Manu Ginobli and somehow stopping on a dime to make an incredible pass no one should be able to see, let alone pull off. Watch Kristaps Porzingis come off screens and hit 3-pointers from five feet behind the line, despite being one of the tallest players in the league. Laugh in amazement as Maxi Kleber inexplicably locks down Zion Williamson, because how?
Jalen Brunson might take a step forward. Trey Burke will be a fun spark plug off the bench. Josh Richardson will quickly become one of your favorite players. Tim Hardaway Jr., playing in his second season on a quality team, might be even better than last year. Dorian Finney-Smith will guard every wing put in front of him and hopefully continue shooting well from deep. And however well Dwight Powell plays, coming back from a ruptured Achilles’ tendon in any manner is an achievement. Just seeing him on the floor is something to applaud.
Louis L’Amour said that “Few of us live in the present. We are forever anticipating what is to come or remembering what has gone.” Dream of superstars to come all you want, but don’t forget to appreciate the superstar the Mavericks already have. This will be a wild grind of a season, and who knows what will happen. Enjoy the ride. The last time Dallas won a championship it snuck up on most of us. The next one might, too.