The Dallas Mavericks find themselves in a peculiar spot entering the 2023-2024 NBA season. They will be two seasons removed from that magical run to the Western Conference Finals and they seem to be on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff picture. According to many analysts from NBA.com, the Mavericks are not a projected top eight team in the West. After falling flat on their faces last season, it is hard to blame outsiders for not believing in the Mavericks.
As for fans of the Mavericks, expectations for what the team could be are a bit more mixed. A subset of the fanbase believes that the Mavericks have a better roster this season and they were marred with bad luck last season. Another subset believes the team will be bad again and we will be trading franchise player, Luka Doncic, sooner rather than later. Some want the games to be played. I’m sure you can guess which side I fall on by the title of this article, but I have spent time assessing the numerous reasons why many believe the Mavericks will be a top-six team before picking a proverbial side.
The topic of clutch losses and injuries is central to this discussion as fans believe the bad luck that plagued the Mavericks in crunch time should swing the other way this season, resulting in more wins. That is a fair argument on the surface, but what happens if we truly give life to this hypothetical scenario? Are you accounting for all the other teams who believe that they were a few breaks away from four to five more wins as well? I am sure Pelicans fans believe that if their stars played a bit more, they could accumulate a handful more wins. I am positive that Thunder fans believe that if their second overall pick Chet Holmgren played, they could have won a few more. I am certain that Lakers fans believe if they made their big deadline trade a bit earlier last season…you know where I am going with this now.
Hypotheticals are tricky and the equation of a hypothetical scenario becomes subject to change when other components are added. That is why I believe that the Mavericks won’t improve to become a top six team this season. This opinion doesn’t depress me like it did in the past. Winning as many games as possible en route to an NBA championship is my dream for the Mavericks every season but ‘dream’ is the key word here. It should be depressing that the Mavericks have yet to build a real contender around Luka Doncic, who is entering his sixth NBA season. However, it is understood that the Mavericks are now playing the long game.
The race for the top 10 seeds in the Western Conference projects to be a bloodbath and the Mavericks, like every other team in the West, will have to work incredibly hard for whatever seed they end up being slotted in. Every game needs to be taken seriously, which should make for some stressful but fun hoops. The team is much more athletic than in years past, which should result in electric plays every game. The team has two bonafide, All-NBA caliber stars who will entertain the masses every time they step on the court. The team has young players that fans can look forward to tracking their development or adding them as sweeteners to trade packages they cook up in the trade machine. There should be no pouty players in the locker room that bring down team chemistry (I say this one cautiously).
Offering a realistic prediction for how the NBA season will unfold is a close-to-impossible feat. No matter where you fall on the prediction spectrum, the Mavericks project to be fun this season at the very least. It is likely they will have to earn a playoff spot via the league’s play-in tournament this season, but we won’t be mad about the process this season this time around.