Perspective is everything. And sometimes you get so locked into your point of view that you don’t see things clearly anymore. This is especially true in sports, and if you follow a team closely you might lose sight of the big picture. You start to love certain players more than you should and hate other players more than is rational.
So I wanted to step outside of my Dallas Mavericks bubble and get the perspective of some people who cover other teams in the Southwest Division. Today I’m talking to two guys who cover the Memphis Grizzlies—Parker Fleming and Justin Lewis of Grizzly Bear Blues.
Note: Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
What is the Mavericks’ biggest weakness?
Parker Fleming: The biggest weakness is legitimate secondary creation. Jalen Brunson could potentially suffice, but they need a starter-level combo guard (or someone that projects out to be) next to Luka Doncic. A clear-cut 2nd/3rd guy is a key next to Luka, especially with Kristaps Porzingis’ injury woes.
Justin Lewis: The biggest weakness for Dallas is the bench. There’s nothing that really moves them offensively and they need to add a bench scoring threat.
What’s a realistic trade you’d like to see between the Mavericks and the Grizzlies?
Parker Fleming: Dwight Powell + Tyrell Terry + a 2nd round pick swap for Steven Adams would be kind of rad — if one of Jaren Jackson Jr., Xavier Tillman, or Brandon Clarke take a leap.
What’s your overall take on the Mavericks this year?
Parker Fleming: Luka is the real deal. He’s a top-8 player in this league, and when you have a guy like that, your team is going to be in the mix for a top-5 seed. I just worry about everything around Luka. Mavs Moneyball covers Porzingis and his woes extensively, so I won’t get too much into that — though a healthy offseason should help. I also like what they did to raise the floor of the team, bringing back Tim Hardaway Jr. and signing two 3-and-D players in Reggie Bullock and Sterling Brown. One of their biggest things though is the development of young role players. When you sell off draft assets to go in on a star player, you need to hit a good percentage of the picks you do have. Brunson has been pretty good, but they need to see what they have in Josh Green and Terry, and if they can become rotation players on a playoff team. Luka is awesome and should have a MVP-caliber season, which would be a good indicator of landing a top-5 seed, but Porzingis and the potential young players are major keys to unlocking another gear.
Justin Lewis: The Dallas Mavericks are truly a polarizing case study. They are the betting favorites to win the Southwest division for the second straight season, but I am not convinced they should be. It truly comes down to Porzingis. Can he even return to 75% of who he was in New York pre-injury? If he can’t, the burden for Luka to bear might be too great to hold off the Grizzlies for the division title. They added shooting in Bullock and retaining Hardaway, but is the combo of Porzingis, Moses Brown, Powell, and Maxi Kleber really enough in the front court? I love Luka and think he could have an MVP caliber season, I just do not love the combo of poor depth and the new coach.