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ESPN projects the Dallas Mavericks’ record for the upcoming season

Check out how many wins ESPN is projecting for the Mavericks this season.

Real Madrid v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Jesus Orihuela/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

Every year, ESPN’s Kevin Pelton crunches the numbers and comes up with a win projection for every NBA team. He uses a ton of statistical data from previous seasons, plugs it into a very complicated formula, and gets a projected win total. Let’s talk about how many wins Pelton and his machine predict for the Dallas Mavericks.

Keep in mind, Pelton admits upfront this is a difficult exercise. From the piece:

“One of the biggest challenges for statistical projections is how disconnected the NBA’s 82-game schedule has been from the playoffs. Add injuries to star players becoming more common, and team performance from year to year hasn’t been this inconsistent in decades.”

His win projections are “based on a combination of my SCHOENE player projections for box score stats as well as three-year, luck-adjusted RAPM from NBAshotcharts.com.” He then does some estimating on how many games players will play in the upcoming season, and boom, win projection.

Pelton’s numbers predict the Mavericks to finish with 41.4 wins for the season.

Most Mavericks fans probably balk at that number, thinking it much too low. After all, they have Luka Doncic, arguably a top five player in the league, and Kyrie Irving, who’s made multiple all-star and All-NBA teams. The NBA is a top heavy league, after all, and star power matters.

But remember, the Mavericks’ elite backcourt duo didn’t play well together last season. Dallas was on 5-11 in games where Doncic and Irving both played. Small sample size, indeed, but you can only work with the numbers you have from the past when projecting the future.

It looks like the Mavericks will also be handing out a significant amount of minutes to rookies Dereck Lively and Olivier-Maxence Prosper. Both look like they have potential to be good rotation players in the future, but this will be their first season in the NBA. Even players who end up in the Basketball Hall of Fame don’t impact winning much their first season. Neither Lively nor Prosper look to be in that hall of fame tier, so expecting them to have a huge impact in their first seasons is asking a little too much of such young players.

Dallas did add veterans Seth Curry and Grant Williams, which will help. And it’s possible Jaden Hardy takes another step forward in his progress, becoming a consistent contributor to an already solid team.

If the role players like Curry, Williams, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Maxi Kleber all contribute, and the Mavericks get some luck with health, it’s easy to see a scenario where they blow past that 41 win mark and win almost 50 games.

But Doncic and Irving are already dealing with nagging injuries during camp. Dallas isn’t deep. If any of the role players get injured and have to sit for a lengthy period of time, the rookies might be thrust into a role they’re not ready for yet. The constant cloud of Irving sitting out for whatever reason will hang over this franchise as long as he’s here. If things go sideways, Mavericks could just as easily finish with a record similar to last season.

In the end, 41 wins does seem low for this team, but not unrealistically low. The Mavericks finishing just a game or two above .500 seems about right, unless they’re able to swing a big trade mid-season with their limited assets. It will be interesting to see how that affects their seeding in the Western Conference, which figures to be a blood bath this year.