This time, we’re asking the staff this question: who is the second most important Dallas Maverick? Or second best player? Best and important are two different things, so it’s not a simple question Luka Doncic is, clearly number one no matter how you interpret the question. Here’s the question from earlier in the week, where we predicted record and seeding.
Logan: Spencer Dinwiddie is the most consequential for better or worse...he will have the ball second most. He’s also had the second best peak of anyone on the roster. Wood is the second most talented, also for better or worse. If we can say either of them are second by the end of the year, and say it excitedly, then that’s probably a good sign, because we’re used to answering this question with a shrug.
Except, sometimes when I just admit it’s Dorian Finney-Smith, I find satisfaction in it despite what it means for the team as a contender. I think he’s my favorite non-star Maverick of the past decade, maybe ever. I think he’s the guy on the team I’d most trust to order my pizza or tell me what’s wrong with my car. Luka is toward the bottom of that list, which is part of their beautiful relationship. I’m convinced he’d be the spirit animal of almost any team. If Luka is truly one of the greats, Doe is simultaneously his Oakley and his Ahmad Rashad, the Tubbs to his Crockett.
Now, most of that is a joke, but that’s par for the course for a team where you can easily argue that Dorian, a player who doesn’t really create offense, is the Robin. Still, in terms of winning impact, playoff trust, and dependability...it’s inarguable. Basically, it’s an issue when the answer to this is a 3-and-D “star role player” who should be a legendary fifth starter on a champion, but I wouldn’t want the Mavericks to be wrong about this with ANYONE else, and we all know the whole fan base feels the same.
Ben: Dorian Finney-Smith is easy to overlook, but he’s probably the Mavericks’ second most important player. They’ll go further in the playoffs if Spencer Dinwiddie returns to his Brooklyn Nets form, but if he doesn’t, Dallas can survive. What they can’t survive is Finney-Smith missing long stretches. He provides a relief valve for Luka Doncic on the perimeter, and is the key to the Mavericks’ defense. Not only that, he’s the steadying force on a team that needs a tough veteran. Dallas rises and falls according to Luka’s play, but Finney-Smith is the consistent contributor that’s always there.
Matthew: The Mavericks need the answer to the second best player question to be Christian Wood, which also makes him the answer to the second most important player. Dorian Finney-Smith has become so good that he can be considered a constant at this point. He is as good of a role player as there is in the NBA but he is not a star.
Wood has legitimate star upside, could very easily average 20 and 10, and despite his defensive struggles, he has the skills to be useful on that end as well. Jason Kidd has a history of getting use out of mobile but defensively challenged big men. If he can get Wood to hold his own defensively, and Wood meshes with Luka Doncic the way he should, this won’t be a question again for a very long time.
Brent: Envisioning the Mavericks without Luka Doncic is a shudder-inducing thought experiment. Yet the answer - when I close my eyes and imagine this roster navigating a chuck of the schedule without 77 - snaps into focus. Spencer Dinwiddie would be tasked with scoring, facilitating, calling out defensive assignments in real-time, and keeping the morale of his teammates at a high level. If the team stayed afloat or exceeded expectations of a Luka-less stretch, Spencer would get accolades. If the team struggled, he would be the most logical target of media and fan criticism.
During his three seasons in Brooklyn before the Nets became the KD and Kyrie show, Dinwiddie proved himself a capable starting point guard who can carry his team. For the Mavs in 2022-2023, Spencer looks to build on his great second half and provide Luka with a capable co-pilot.
David: The clear answer is Spencer Dinwiddie. As much as Christian Wood could raise Dallas’ ceiling, Dinwiddie raises the floor. The Mavericks have a ball-handling deficiency, as well as a need for a second fiddle to Luka, and if Dinwiddie pans out the way he should, he could fill both holes. Dinwiddie is going to have a big year, and he’s not just going to establish himself as the clear number two guy on the Mavericks, but he’s going to propel him and Luka into the conversation for best backcourt in the league. His success and the Mavericks success have a high correlation.
Brian: By a country mile, Dorian Finney-Smith is the 2nd best player on this Dallas Mavericks team. Dorian is the team leader and based on the respect Dorian gets across the league now, it shows. Dorian gives Kidd a lineup option where the Mavs can play small for stretches due to Dorian’s length and perimeter defense. Luka is the engine of the Mavs, and Dorian is the gas that makes this team go.
Tim: The second most important player on this Dallas Mavericks team is Spencer Dinwiddie. He is now in Jalen Brunson’s old starting role from last year which makes him the secondary ball handler with Luka on the court and the main ball handler and initiator of the offense with Luka off — with no real on-ball help in that second unit. Players like Dorian Finney-Smith & Reggie Bullock are very important players for Dallas’ success, but without an on-ball offensive threat or facilitator they can’t succeed as floor spacers.
If Spencer can fill this role successfully then the sting of Jalen Brunson leaving for New York doesn’t hurt so bad and the Mavs will continue to compete for home court advantage in the West.
Kirk: The second best player is Spencer Dinwiddie, even though he’s wildly inconsistent over stretches. He’s a strong play-maker, okay shooter, and is big with the ability to handle the ball. We’ve seen games where he can be the guy in Dallas.
But Christian Wood is the most important player. If he works out well, Dallas could vault to the top three in the West. If he’s just okay or if he can’t find a role to fill, then Dallas doesn’t have a clear path out of the first round.