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Maverick Preseason Predictions Check-in

I had high hopes for the season and it’s managed to deliver in very unexpected ways

Dallas Mavericks v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Prior to the NBA season’s start, Mavs Moneyball received a request to participate in the SB Nation 2021-22 NBA season preview. Seeing as I am site editor, I decided write the section myself for the Mavericks and not farm it out to anyone on our staff. At that point in the year, I had some pretty strong feelings about the team and their chances.

Prediction review

If you’ve taken a moment to read the preview, it’s structured in a straight forward way. There’s a Best Case Scenario, where I argued that Dallas would play well through their balanced schedule and things would come together for both new head coach Jason Kidd and Luka Doncic. Next there’s a Worst Case Scenario, that leaned into the historical data on Kidd being a meh-to-bad coach and the idea that the Doncic-Kristaps Porzingis pairing wouldn’t work out. Then there’s the Most Likely Scenario, which predicted Dallas would end up about where they did in the 2020-21 season. Lastly, I wrote I was most excited to see a thin Luka Doncic play well in the start of the year, as he looked good at training camp after coming off the Olympics. I also gave the wild guess that Dallas would finish the year 53-29!

This season is going fine, all things considered

Looking back to how the season started, I’m feeling really good about the rest of the Dallas season. They head into All Star break with a 35-24 record, eleven games over .500 and in the fifth spot in the West. Considering they took the rather remarkable step of trading Kristaps Porzingis last week, things are looking mostly up in Dallas. There’s no longer the weight of the expectations that come with Porzingis nor is there the need to treat him like the 1B option he never was to begin with. Dallas is somehow closer to my best case scenario, despite the strangeness of the season over all.

Revised Predictions

I guessed that Dallas would end up the fourth seed with a 53-29 record. The fourth seed is certainly still a possibility if the Utah Jazz continue their slow implosion, but they’d need to win 18 of their final 23 games to finish with 53 wins. Moving on from Porzingis means taking a step back on the ceiling this team had at the start of the season, so if Dallas manages to finish winning even 15 of their final 23 games, that would be nothing short of incredible. A 50 win team with Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson as the clear best two players would be nuts in a crowded Western Conference. Instead, I’ll predict a 48-34 record to end the year, still sitting in the fifth spot like last year, only this time they’ll earn the spot through record over tiebreaker.

Odds to watch

One of the weirder things about the All Star break coming later in the year is that many of the more interesting betting options are all but locked up. There just aren’t enough games to make much of a difference. Dallas is +4000 to win the NBA title and +1800 to win the Western Conference. If you’re feeling a bit lucky and think Dallas could make some noise, the later in particular is at least a tiny bit interesting.

Heading into the home stretch

Above all else, these Mavericks have proven so very interesting. They’ve been bad to fine on offense for much of the year and shockingly good on defense. They started the year so badly (maybe not in terms of results, but in style), it’s quite remarkable and a testament to both the coaches and the players that they’ve rebounded so well. They’re in the driver seat for a playoff position, now all they need to do is go win games.

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