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What are the best and worst case scenarios for the Dallas Mavericks this season?

A run through of all the possibilities this season

NBA: Preseason-Orlando Magic at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks 2022-2023 season starts in less than one week. Shocking, right? That’s so soon! We here are Mavs Moneyball have been overflowing with preseason content to get you up to speed on the season that will be, and we’re not done yet.

While the Mavericks expect to be another solid Western Conference contender this season, there are still a lot of possibilities for the team that depend on how certain questions get answered. Let’s do our best to predict those answers to the most burning questions.

What’s the ‘Best Case’ scenario for your team this season?

Behind an MVP season from Luka Doncic, Dallas breaks into the conference’s top three for the first time since the 2011 championship team, making it back to the Western Conference Finals or hell — winning it all. Yes, it’s possible!

The Mavericks have been beleaguered by slow starts the last two seasons, only to have to play and win at a frenetic place to end the season to avoid the play-in tournament. Hopefully without another COVID outbreak and Doncic looking fit to start the season, Dallas can finally go on a hot streak and not worry about climbing out of a hole in January.

Christian Wood is the other key — the new Mavericks big man will need to put up an All-Star season for the Mavericks to reach the highest of heights that are in front of them. Wood represents the most talented offensive player Doncic has played next to and if the coaching staff can get through to Wood on the defensive end, the Mavericks will be a nightmare of a matchup all season.

Good health and solid seasons from the role players are a must. Spencer Dinwiddie, Tim Hardaway Jr., Dorian Finney-Smith, Reggie Bullock, and Maxi Kleber all have to play up to their strengths. Maybe even a pop from third year forward Josh Green as well. All of that has to line up for the Mavericks to make another deep playoff run.

What’s the ‘Worst Case’ scenario for your team this season?

Ultimately the worst case would be missing the playoffs, but that only happens with a catastrophic Doncic injury, and well, that’s not fun to talk about. So let’s ponder the worst case presuming Doncic plays a mostly healthy season.

In that case, it’s likely falling all the way to the play-in tournament and not making it past the first round. The Western Conference is absolutely brutal this season, with the Clippers, Nuggets, and Timberwolves all expected to be greatly better than a season ago. Even if the Mavericks play well this season, the improvement from the rest of the West could see them on the outside looking in.

Then you have a roster that desperately needs more creative juice. Doncic running the show with a roll man, some shooters, and another playmaking guard is a formula for success, but without Jalen Brunson, a lot of pressure will be on Dinwiddie to replicate his fantastic showing after being traded to Dallas last season. If you combine Dinwiddie coming back down to earth with a continued slump from Hardaway, it’s not hard to see how the Mavericks offense could become cramped.

Also in the worst case scenario bucket: Wood doesn’t buy in on defense and his contract negotiations for next season sour a locker room that thrived on good vibes. Doncic gets worn out from a historic usage rate, no other Maverick can pick up the slack, and the team limps into a seventh or eighth seed.

What’s the ‘Most Likely’ scenario for your team this season?

As I already said, pairing Doncic with a proven rim runner, two 3-and-D shooters, and another playmaking guard is a formula that has one of the highest floors in the league. Surround Doncic with shooting (and the Mavericks still have plenty of it, regardless of Brunson’s departure), and the Mavericks can only fall so low in the standings.

Wood should provide a nice look the Mavericks haven’t had from their big men in the past, and even if he doesn’t improve on defense, his sixth man role will help. Dallas gets a big season from Doncic, Dinwiddie does just enough, JaVale McGee brings some needed rim protection, Wood spearheads a deadly bench unit and the Mavericks are a solid, not great, playoff team. Something around 48-50 wins and the fifth seed seems about right.

What are you most excited for going into this season?

The obvious answer is Luka Doncic, coming into camp in good shape for the first time in over two years. While Doncic has been the betting MVP favorite the past two seasons, it really feels like everything is lining up for him to actually make due on that predication.

So, despite all of that, I’m going in a different direction — Christian Wood.

Doncic is great, but we know that. While I don’t want to take that for granted, Wood is more of a mystery box, with the potential to put this team over the top. While Dallas has performed well with Doncic, the teams overall talent level has lagged compared to some of its peers. Wood represents the biggest talent infusion since the Kristaps Porzingis trade, and while that trade didn’t work for the Mavericks, it’s hard not to dream again about what a versatile, athletic, modern big man can do next to a playmaker like Doncic. It’s not hard to make the argument that Wood is a better offensive player than Porzingis, and how his athleticism and tool set might pop off more consistently in Dallas than it did with Porzingis. Wood just needs to put it all together, playing on a team trying to win for the first time in his career.

Predict your team’s win/loss record for the season

49-33. Dallas takes a slight step back in a more difficult Western Conference, but are still a contender.

Predict your team’s conference seeding

Fifth. No home court for the Mavericks this season, but still a formidable playoff team.

Roster Additions

  • Center Christian Wood
  • Center JaVale McGee
  • Guard Jaden Hardy

Roster Losses

  • Guard Jalen Brunson
  • Guard Sterling Brown
  • Guard Trey Burke
  • Center Boban Marjanovic

Last season’s team record


Last season’s conference ranking


Last season’s offensive and defensive rating

  • Offense — 113.8 (ranked 15th in the NBA)
  • Defense — 110.3 (ranked sixth in the NBA)