Basketball is back after a long All-Star break. Your Dallas Mavericks return to action Friday night on the road against the Orlando Magic. But before we get back into the swing of things, let’s take a look back at the week that was and then look ahead to the future. That’s right, it’s time for SB Nation’s FanPulse.
This week, fans were asked several questions about the NBA All-Star Game and the events surrounding it. Let’s take a look at the Dunk Contest first.
This year’s dunk contest was one of the more controversial in recent memory. It came down to two finalists: Aaron Gordon, a three-time participant, and almost Maverick Derrick Jones Jr. In the end, Jones won thanks to a rigged vote perpetrated by judge Dwyane Wade. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of Wade participating in rigged sporting events.
According to you, the fans, you don’t recognize Jones as the legitimate winner because of it. Almost 80 percent of you said that Gordon should have won. That’s an astounding number.
You were also asked if the new format for the All-Star Game game “fixed” what was perceived to be a generally uninteresting event. This year’s game came down to the final seconds, which was exciting. I just don’t know if that’s because of the new formatting or because the players began caring in the fourth quarter—like they always do. Regardless, fans overwhelmingly agreed that the new format is good for the game going forward.
Moving on from All-Star weekend (tips cap to Chicago and bids adieu), we take a look ahead. Two of the most coveted end-of-season NBA awards are up for grabs at the moment. While the field for each seems loaded, there appear to be some very clear front runners. Let’s take a look at the granddaddy of them all first: MVP.
Fans had several names to choose from when it comes to who they think should be this season’s MVP. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic, LeBron James, and Kawhi Leonard are all in the running. You can toss James Harden in there if you want too, I guess. When it comes down to it, there’s one clear winner.
I mean, it’s not even close. Giannis runs away with it. If this holds true at the end of the season, it will be his second consecutive MVP award. Since we’re a Mavericks site, we can’t help but be disappointed in the voting. Luka is the MVP of our hearts.
Similarly, there’s a runaway favorite to win Rookie of the Year as well. The field of rookie standouts isn’t as wide as it has been in years past, but those at the top are showing that they’re forces to be reckoned with for a long time to come.
Before the season began, Zion Williamson was the favorite to win ROY. His college performance and his destruction of Kevin Knox at Summer League (I think that’s what caused the earthquake that night) were all anyone needed to see to assume the award was his from the get go. Unfortunately, he missed a lot of time due to injury. That gave rise to Ja.
Ja Morant is something else. On the court, he breaks the ankles of anyone—including former “teammates”—and drops buckets and dimes with style. Off the court, he has the swagger and braggadocio of a young person who knows he’s on the rise. What more do you want? I personally can’t wait to watch him and Zion play for the next decade. Fortunately (and perhaps unfortunately), Mavs fans with get their fill of these two dynamos. They both play in the Southwest Division. That means four meetings every season, unless they change the schedule.
On to those Mavs!
After several weeks of declining confidence, you’re regaining your trust in the Mavericks. That decisive win against the lowly Sacramento Kings last week and some time away from the game must have been good for the soul.
If Dallas beats Orlando and the Atlanta Hawks, Friday and Saturday, respectively, I have a funny feeling that we will see confidence tick back up to 100 percent or very close to it the next time the three of you join me for this column.
With the team healthy (aside from Dwight Powell) it should be a fun close to the season. The Mavs are almost certainly a lock for the playoffs at this point, so the only worry now is winning more games to guarantee it. We’ve already started thinking about first-round opponents and you should too.
Until next time, happy watching, Mavs fans!