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The break from basketball and the Dallas Mavericks

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Basketball is back. How did the time away from the court change the Dallas Mavericks?

2020 NBA Restart - All Access Practice Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

Your Dallas Mavericks officially have one scrimmage in the books after tuning up against the Lakers on Thursday evening. The result is less important than the simple fact that the Mavericks are playing competitive basketball again (editor’s note: they won and it was the most important win in franchise history). But some things have changed.

To give everybody a snapshot of where we were before the world began to end, let’s look at the month of March: The Mavericks played seven games, including the drubbing of the Nuggets in the last game prior to the league suspending the season. In those seven games, the Mavericks went 4-3 and averaged 113.9 points per game, while allowing 106.7 points per game—both of these figures are a bit lower than their season averages, but the average margin of victory is right in line with the season as a whole.

What’s more interesting (and will be no surprise to those who have watched this team this year) is who they did it against. The four wins came against a bad Timberwolves team, pretty decent Pelicans and Grizzlies teams, and a very good Nuggets team. The three losses came against a terrible-ass Bulls team, a good Pacers team (with like 60% of Oladipo) and against a middling-to-bad Spurs team. Again, no surprises. These are our Mavericks.

So, what will be different in The Bubble?

  • Trey Burke is here, baby! (allegedly anyway) Let’s live it up! And I’m only kind of being snarky here. Burke is the only ‘major’ addition for the BubbleBaby Mavs, and while he’s not a big name, he’s a solid player and he already knew the system before he got here.
  • Courtney Lee is out with an injured calf. “Oh, BuT cOuRtNeY LeE dOeSn’T mAtTeR aNyWaY” Shut up, dork. Lee started in five of the seven games in March. And he wasn’t getting token Adrian Griffin starting minutes, he played ~160 minutes over those seven games and made exactly half of his shots. 23 minutes per game on the wing is extremely important in the 2020 NBA. Courtney Lee is solid, though maybe not spectacular, and has NBA Finals experience. The team will be happy to have his guidance in Orlando, but they may miss him on the court. Look for Justin Jackson to get a shot at making some of those floaters we’ve all heard about. (This is not slight on Jackson, who gave the team a lot of solid minutes in the last month before the shutdown).
  • Willie Cauley-Stein opted out of the restart to stay at home with his new baby. We fully respect the decision and hope all is well with Baby Cauley-Stein. WCS had gotten back to active status in March and played double digit minutes in four of the last five games. Without him in Orlando, the sporadically used Boban Marjanovic will likely become more of an every-game player.
  • The Quarantine King, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, is in Orlando and ready to cut and dive! MKG has been a surprising person of interest on Mavs Twitter during the last few weeks, presumably because he’s still somewhat of an unknown quantity to Mavericks fans who remember little else besides his name and his high draft position. We’ve spoken at length about his stretch with the Mavericks so far and how its been PRETTY BAD. But MKG was thrown into the middle of a Rick Carlilse offense in February and then the world exploded like 20 days later. I would venture to say no player in Orlando will gain as much from the “training camp” and scrimmages than Kidd-Gilchrist. He’s going to get a chance to play, probably at a couple of positions. Here’s to hoping that he gets comfortable fairly quickly.
2020 NBA Restart - All Access Practice Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

And what about the main dudes?

  • Seth Curry, flamethrower. I suppose this could be considered an important addition. Curry missed four of the team’s last six games, but he’s had a comical amount time to get himself healthy at this point. Cross your fingers that he’s feeling great. He’s averaged a hair under 25 minutes per game and shot north of 45 percent from three this season. Look for those minutes to be ramped up so long as our guy can stay feeling well.
  • Tim Hardaway, Jr., flamethrower also. Hardway has been great all year. He plays hard, is shooting the leather off the ball, and rarely misses games. No need to say anything else other than let’s hope he can keep it up.
  • Delon Wright, Zippo lighter. Delon Wright can’t shoot! Delon Wright can’t shoot! Delon Wright can’t shoot! WE GET IT. JEEZE. …but would it surprise you to know he shot 42 percent from three in the seven games in March? Small sample size, sure, but if he can shoot close to that he’s going to work his way into 30 minutes per game. Wright is one of those guys that seems to frustrate a lot of folks, but that’s unfair. He isn’t the triple double machine that some might have wanted, but he does everything and does it all pretty well! 7, 4, & 3 in 22 minutes per game. Hustles, plays hard on defense. Top 10 steal percentage in the league. Shoots greater than 50 percent on twos and greater than 38 percent from three? Get this guy on the court.
  • Maxi Kleber, professional big beautiful boy. I don’t think much needs to be said about Maxi either. Great weakside shot blocker, quick feet, plays hard, looks like a model, respectable shooter, hasn’t missed a game since November 3rd. He averages 25.7 minutes per game on the season but played more than 31 minutes per game in March. He’s ready to step into any additional minutes at F/C.
  • Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. Our sons are healthy, they’ve had several months off to rest and recuperate, they enjoy being around each other, and they’re getting essentially a second training camp to learn the system and each other. These two are going to hit the ground running. It’s not unreasonable to think we might see a leap from these two that is akin to what you might see over a full offseason.
  • JJ Barea. Death, taxes, and JJ Barea getting fourth quarter minutes in an important game and hitting shots over 6’7” guys.

The Mavericks are in good shape considering their challenges and over all, the break was just what part of the roster needed.

Here’s the postgame podcast, Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you can’t see the embed below “More from Mavs Moneyball”, click here. And if you haven’t yet, subscribe by searching “Mavs Moneyball podcast” into your favorite podcast app.