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Grading the Dallas Mavericks: who’s guarding Lauri Markkanen?

The Mavericks off-season is finnished.

NBA: Preseason-Dallas Mavericks at Utah Jazz Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

The final week of preparation for the Mavericks featured one preseason game, shoe announcements, and weird signings. Mckinley Wright earned himself a two-way deal through his play in training camp, while Marcus Bingham Jr., Mouhamadou Gueye, Tyler Hall, and D.J. Stewart Jr. all were waived to cut down the roster for the regular season. It is expected that former Denver Nugget and Real Madrid teammate of Luka Doncic, Facundo Compazzo, is expected to sign to the final roster spot when he arrives in Dallas this week. The Mavericks won their final preseason game in Utah, 115-101 on Friday to close out the off-season.

Team grade: B

It was a very average week for the Dallas Mavericks. The game against the Jazz came with almost no takeaways on offense other than Josh Green can make layups now and Tim Hardaway Jr. will continue to shoot lots of contested threes. The defense was a little concerning, as their problem with guarding big men still persists, but, again, it is just one preseason game.

The signing of Compazzo is not bad when you look at it from the “15th man, help when he can” angle, but it just feels wrong. The Mavericks clearly mishandled a situation with Goran Dragic earlier in the offseason, and denied the necessity of acquiring a third ball handler for months. Signing Compazzo feels like an admittance of defeat and forces them to settle for a player who, otherwise, would probably not be on a roster this season.

The Mavericks actual rotation players look good. Doncic looks in shape and aggressive, and Dallas might have the best bench in the NBA. Christian Wood and Tim Hardaway Jr. are both “no-help” shooters, meaning you cannot help off of them or they will make you pay. This is going to open up a plethora of driving opportunities for Dinwiddie, who Jason Kidd has said will man the second unit. It’s going to be a treat to see this team play a real game next week.

Straight A’s: the Luka 1 colorways

Since the Luka 1 shoe came out a few weeks back in only one colorway (white, light blue and orange), it has been a great thought experiment to imagine what they would look like in various color combinations. Normally, shoes release to the public in these colorways and that’s how we feed our creativity, but this time around, Doncic has partnered with four universities, as of October 15th, to supply them with custom shoes for their upcoming seasons.

The first announced was Florida Gators basketball:

The next was the North Carolina Tar Heels:

Third was Howard University:

And lastly, the Marquette Golden Eagles:

Each of these colorways is beautiful, and the way Doncic showcased them was masterful as well. He wore them in games and practices, and even changed shoes at halftime of their final preseason game to display two new shoes on the same day. This marketing campaign earns an A plus from me.

Failing miserably: whoever was guarding Lauri Markkanen

The Mavericks defense was in mid-season form on Friday, making an average role player look like a max contract superstar. Markkanen is a career 15 point a game scorer, on 44 percent shooting, but you couldn’t tell when the Mavericks were playing defense. He was hitting post fades, tip-ins, pull up jumpers and bank shots, and not one of them looked like luck. He shot 9-of-13 from the floor and had 21 points, but the impact felt like 40. Dallas has struggled guarding bigs, especially mobile bigs, in the past, and it is no sight for sore eyes to see Markkanen hurt them again. The West is stacked with talented big men, and their first real test will come against Deandre Ayton this Wednesday, where they hope to defend him better than Lauri Markkanen.

Extra credit: Luka Doncic in the first quarter

Doncic has been one of the best first quarter players in the league since they started playing him the entirety of it. Last season he averaged 9.5 points in the opening frame, and Doncic was on fire to open the game in Utah. 12 points in 12 minutes is wildly efficient, and it’s always an exciting feeling when Doncic is hitting to start a game. He earns the final piece of extra credit before the real assignments start this week.