Which Maverick player are you most looking forward to watching and why?
Matthew: The obvious answer is Luka Doncic but that’s tired so I’ll go another way. The Mavericks have asked Maxi Kleber to do entirely too much over the last couple of seasons which has resulted in him being worn down during the playoffs. They appear to be committed to using him in a more limited role which should allow him to shine with his unique combination of gifts. That plus he appeared to be slightly lighter and more mobile in the first preseason game and I am excited to see a very good season by Kleber where he makes Zach Lowe’s Luke Walton all stars.
Doyle: I’m really interested to see what Dorian Finney Smith brings to the table this season. He’s become a dead-eye three-point shooter, percentage wise, over the past few seasons. Last year, he started to put the ball on the floor, looking to create for himself, on a limited basis. The results were mixed, but he showed promise. He was able to drive baseline with some success, but his handles in the midrange need some work. If he’s able to develop his ball handling skills more, it could add a new wrinkle to the Mavericks’ already potent offense.
Ben: I can’t wait to watch Reggie Bullock play with Luka. Bullock has already proven himself to be a capable shooter with the Knicks. Now he’ll have one of the best playmakers in the NBA setting him up. Tim Hardaway Jr realized this offseason that playing with Luka is an advantageous situation for a shooter. Bullock will definitely come to the same conclusion, and his stats will show it.
Jordan: I’ve long wanted Reggie Bullock on the Mavs. I like Bullock the player, Bullock the person. He will be my favorite no-Luka Maverick this season. But I’ve already used him as an answer for a recent roundtable. So I’m going with a guy who may or may not be on the 15-man roster, perhaps setting my expectations up for failure. I admit I was pretty interested in the Mavericks drafting Frank Ntilikina back in the 2017 draft. It didn’t happen, which was likely for the best. But now he’s here and I’m super intrigued in the idea of him playing alongside Luka Doncic. He will always interest me. And though he may not be a high-minute contributor, the Mavericks need his skillset. He also seems like a very easy player to cheer for — give me more French Prince!
Tim: Kristaps Porzingis. After a very disappointing year last season he seems to be moving much, much better this preseason. I’m looking forward to seeing if we will see a “new” KP with all that talk about this being his first healthy off-season since his all-star year with the Knicks before he tore his ACL. I’m also looking forward to see what new coaching does for KP’s role and confidence - can he prove this season that he can be the second best player on a team with championship aspirations? Or will he not live up to the expectations a second straight season?
David: Moses Brown 100%. Like I said in my preview, this dude has massive upside. He is so young, and so raw, but has the potential to put up a legitimate 15 points and 11 rebounds per game, or even better. He creates a lot of highlight reel put-backs on offense and swats a lot of shots on defense, and his growth and progress toward his ceiling is what I am going to be watching for this year.
Xavier: I recently caved and watching the Mavs play preseason basketball. The reason? Kristaps Porzingis. He looks more agile and has met several opposing players at the rim and won. If KP can anchor the defense, improvements on the margin start to matter. Kleber’s health then becomes crucial. Reggie Bullock’s ability to hit 3s and play perimeter defense becomes important. Even players on the bubble like Frank Ntilikina and Josh Green start to matter if they can play in lineups where they are the only non-shooter on the court. It’s a small sample size and health will always be a question mark for KP but so far so good. I can’t wait to see if it Carries over into the regular season.
Kirk: Going back to February of 2019, I remember referring to Tim Hardaway Jr. often as the Porzingis tax. Who could have guessed that he’s become one of the players I irrationally love. His willingness to gun, paired with how he carries himself at all times... I just love watching Tim Hardaway Jr. He also reminds me of late 90’s Shawn Michaels as well for some reason.
He went on JJ Redick’s pod a few months ago and their conversation really solidified all of my feelings for Hardaway. I can’t wait to watch him play this season.