The Mavericks have now played two games heavily relying on hardship signings in the midst of a new Covid-19 variant surge being felt round the world. Navigating this new territory is no small task for any team.
In their win against the Minnesota Timberwolves Jason Kidd played Marquese Chriss and Theo Pinson a combined 38 minutes. And it was while watching their energetic effort, with the knowledge that a handful of other replacement players were on their way, that I found myself getting excited for the Mavericks’ matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks as Luka Doncic was expected to make his return.
That anticipation was quickly squashed as news broke of Doncic being added to a long list of Mavericks held out for Health & Safety Protocols. Instead I found myself genuinely disappointed that I couldn’t watch the team’s young phenom share the floor with…Marquese Chriss and Carlik Jones?
It was an odd emotion to examine, one I saw many #online MFFLs sharing. Are fresh faces exciting because of the potential? Sure. Was there some hope that one of these guys might go on a Yogi Ferrell-like run? Maybe.
But should hardship signings garner this much anticipation and interest from a team’s fan base?
The Mavericks, and mainly Mark Cuban, have tried selling the fans on continuity; that keeping the team intact is actually an asset, and maybe just one minor move will tip the scales in the postseason. Instead this season they’ve trotted out a team that looks tired or bored of playing with each other, guided by a staff that may not be equipped to tap into their potential, wasting away with the 22nd ranked offense in the league.
So it stands to reason that YES we will get excited by watching fresh faces bring energy and effort as they try to earn their way in the league.
Five of the new additions to the team played a combined 58 minutes in the Mavericks’ loss to the Bucks Thursday, a game in which they led at half but were eventually overpowered. Moses Brown was the only player to come off the bench who was on the team longer than 72 hours. Hardship players are not the answer, and we all wish nothing but health for those who are being held out. This is not an indictment on any of them. It is on a directionless front office and stagnant ownership who have led us to this point, pining for Doncic to get some new faces around him to see how high they can go.