Dallas finished this last week with one win against Indiana and four losses. The Grizzlies, Warriors, and Hornets (twice) all got the best of them, and Dallas now sits in 11th place in the West.
Team Grade: F
The team is just above rock bottom. With two top-20 players in Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, they shouldn’t be, but here they are nonetheless. The defense is out of gas, the offense can barely find life, and the stench of poor chemistry overwhelms the fragrance of superstar talent. During Doncic’s tenure, the team has not been this bad since his rookie campaign. Even then, the outlook was positive and hope still burned bright.
Over the last week, Dallas’ playoff hopes have had the wheels fall off and their headfirst tumble for the draft lottery seems to have no end in sight until the games are no longer being played. And, as crazy as it sounds, Dallas should embrace the downward spiral. They have almost hit the ocean floor and the clearest path back to the surface is to hit the ground as hard as possible.
The team and the organization need a fresh start. Jason Kidd has overstayed his welcome, the roster has been crumbs with one or two chips for four years, and the lack of draft capital has left Dallas with no young core to develop. If Dallas receives a top-10 pick (due to missing the playoffs), they get to keep it and the draft class this year is full of ready talent. An implosion of this magnitude would hopefully see a coaching change and a roster shakeup, which will certainly help Dallas more than being a first-round exit this year.
Before the win in Indiana, the team had given up in a way, unlike anything in the history of basketball. Embracing the surrender would result in an extended off-season. Time heals all, and the team (as well as the fans for that matter) needs time off like it’s going out of stock.
Straight A’s: Jaden Hardy
This season as a whole has not been fun. Pieces of it have, and one of those has been Jaden Hardy. He has three 20-point games in his last five and now averages 19 points per game when he gets 20 or more minutes of playing time. His rookie year has been inconsistent in terms of opportunity, but he has made the most out of it. He plays really well alongside Luka Doncic with his catch-and-shoot ability nicely complementing his crafty iso repertoire. Hardy has shown us that he can play a Jordan Clarkson or Jamal Crawford bench role to perfection if given the chance.
Failing Miserably: Luka Doncic’s complaining
Doncic gets hit a lot and lets the referee know about it when he does not get the call. The problem is, this happens on almost every single play in some games, and it is starting to really cost Dallas possessions on defense. There was a play against Golden State where Doncic got hit in the face (incidentally) by Kevon Looney. He remained on the ground for the entirety of the ensuing defensive possession and when the team got back on offense, spoke to the referee until play was stopped for Doncic’s cut lip. Davis Bertans tried to swing the ball to Doncic in the corner, but because he wasn’t looking he had to go elsewhere.
Talking to the refs is one thing, but incessantly complaining about not getting a foul every time down the floor is actively hurting the team. Not only does Doncic miss plays, but his mind shifts from making the shot to forcing the contact for a foul call. It’s not a winning mindset and until Doncic learns to move on, he’s going to continue to hurt the team with his whining.
Extra Credit: Kyrie Irving
Irving has had his fair share of well-documented mishaps throughout his career. Much of the criticism has been fair, as they have been direct responses to things he posted or said himself. However, when Luka Doncic expressed his frustration recently after losing to the Hornets, media outlets, including TMZ and Barstool, took to the internet to pin it on Irving.
Some made a bad joke (like Barstool), but some really tried to imply that Irving was the catalyst for Doncic’s lack of “a smile”. This is unfair to Irving, or any human being in that position. If Irving is nothing else, he is a professional and has handled the unjust claims from the media extremely well during his time in Dallas.