It’s the halfway point in the season, the Dallas Mavericks are 23-18. With 41 games left to go, it seemed like a good idea to review our predictions for the Dallas record from before the regular season began. Here’s where what we guessed in terms of record and seed in the West way back in September when we were full of hope. And here’s the prompt that was posed to the staff:
You have a chance to revise your preseason prediction for the Mavericks, both in overall record and seed in the West, go!
Jordan: The Mavericks are currently on pace for about 48 wins, and that seems about right. The concern now is how much longer until Dorian Finney-Smith and Josh Green return, and whether Luka Doncic can hold up with this sort of work load.
The team just finished up the softest part of their schedule, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. But they still only have the 15th toughest remaining schedule, so it shouldn’t be an endless gauntlet. It’ll just be about what I mentioned above.
I hedged a bit in my first prediction, and said they’d probably get to 50 wins but land between fourth and sixth in the West. I’m not sure they get to 50, but I now think a top three seed is possible given how the conference is playing out this season. I’ll say 49-33 and third going into the playoffs.
Brian: The Western conference is a jumbled mess right now, and by hook or crook, the Mavericks are 4th in the standings as of January 3rd. I will omit I didn’t see the conference overall taking this big of a step back this year. So I will stand by my original prediction of 46 wins and the Mavericks finishing with the 6th seed.
Josh: In my preseason prediction, I said the Mavericks would go 49-33, battling for home court advantage. And well, the Mavericks are on a 48-win place and currently fourth in the west. While the road to this point certainly isn’t how I expected it, the Mavericks are about where they should be considering the talent level of the team. The two X-factors of course are Luka in the middle of a historic season that could shatter team expectations and the schedule getting considerably tougher than it’s been the last seven games.
Either way, at this point with Luka I assume the Mavericks will figure it out. The injuries have been rough, but they’ve forced the coaching staff into playing their best, most productive players together more often. If that sticks even when players get healthy, the Mavericks should continue to be in the hunt for home court, even if the games get harder from this point forward. Hell, with the west looking weaker than I anticipated, it wouldn’t shock me if the Mavericks were in contention for the one seed.
Ben: I predicted the Mavericks would go 50-32 and finish 6th in the West. It’s likely they’ll finish worse than that, maybe around 47-48 wins, but the West is much weirder than I thought it would be. 48-34 might get them the 4th seed. So they’re about on track for what I thought they’d be, but somehow might be able to grab home court advantage in the first round. I think they’ll stay with this pace and finish a little over .500, possibly as low as 46 wins, as high as 49.
Matt: Dallas’ current 48-win pace is right in line with my pre-season 48-win prediction. What I didn’t expect before the season started is just how much of a mess the Western Conference is. This season started eerily similar to last years, with the Mavericks bobbing up and down around the .500 mark for the majority of the first two and a half months. The difference, and main reason for concern, is that Dallas is managing that this year with Luka Doncic already having taken a massive step forward. He’s averaging six points per game more than he did a season ago, and in the Mavs’ current stretch that’s seen him win back-to-back West player of the week awards, he’s averaged 35/10/10. Is there something outside of Doncic that can propel this team to finish as strong as they did last season (Dallas went 36-12 after starting 16-18)? The return of Dorian Finney-Smith and Josh Green will certainly help, but it’s going to need to be much more of a team effort this go-around.
Clint: I predicted the Mavericks would go 0-82. Clearly I was wrong and I’m willing to own up to it. Please accept my apology and my revised prediction. The Mavericks will finish the season 23-59.
David: My only revision to my original prediction would be that I said Dallas had a good coaching staff, and now I see that it is merely serviceable, at best. I still think they finish 5th with around 50 wins, and a rematch with the Suns in the first round is inevitable.
Brent: The hot start I predicted certainly did not materialize. One of the biggest reasons for this was the make-good-on-promise role the Mavericks felt obligated to give then-starter JaVale McGee. After starting the four games with double-digit minutes, McGee has seen that level of court exposure only four times since - all in games where the outcome was already decided. His relegation to the deep end of the bench has gone from disappointment to disaster given the loss of Maxi Kleber.
In a stretch reminiscent of the patchwork roster of last year’s Covid episode, the injuries to Kleber, Finney-Smith and Green have seemed to galvanize the roster. Christian Wood has stepped into a role many believed he was best suited for and is thriving. The team needs at least one more capable frontcourt player irrespective of Kleber’s return. Spencer Dinwiddie is having a low-key incredible season.
With Luka Doncic shifted firmly into god mode, the team is stuck between the pressure of making a move now to improve this year’s team and the strategic wisdom of waiting until the draft pick is conveyed to the Knicks. Any move involving first-round draft picks is incredibly consequential - just ask Minnesota and Atlanta. My prediction of 51 wins and a tough second-round exit still feels about right and I still hope I am wrong.
Doyle: I don’t think I’ve seen enough from the team to change my prediction dramatically. Maybe they win a couple more games (I predicted 46 wins) because of Luka’s brilliance, but as the West shakes out, Dallas still looks and feels like a middle of the pack team.
Kirk: Well considering Dallas would have to go 32-9 to get to the 55-27 season I predicted, wildly, back at the start of the year... I’ll just say something like 48 wins feels realistic. Who knows though, this team is capable of a lot of greatness and as much failure. It’s about how they execute from here on out.