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ESPN predicts the Dallas Mavericks will be 9th in the Western Conference

After a mediocre season, experts aren’t buying the Mavericks as a contender.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN recently dropped their 2023-24 predictions win-loss record for the NBA season. Despite Luka Doncic working out to improve his physical conditioning and the Dallas Mavericks having a very solid off-season, ESPN picked Dallas to finish 9th in the Western Conference with a 43-39 record. He’s how ESPN had the West shaking out 1-10.

1. Denver Nuggets: 53-29

2. Phoenix Suns: 51-31

3. Golden State Warriors: 47-35

4. Sacramento Kings: 47-35

5. Los Angeles Lakers: 46-36

6. LA Clippers: 45-37

7. Oklahoma City Thunder: 45-37

8. Memphis Grizzlies: 44-38

9. Dallas Mavericks: 43-39

10. Minnesota Timberwolves: 43-39

Considering the Dallas Mavericks finished the 2022-23 season at 38-44, the 2023-34 prediction of 44-38 is an improvement. I agree with these predictions, besides the Clippers finishing sixth in the Western Conference.

I agree with the Mavericks finishing within the play-in group for several reasons, but consistency is one of the most essential reasons. In the 2021 -2022 season, Dallas nearly won 80 percent of their games after the start of the new year. There were so many times fans assumed the Mavericks would turn that switch after the NBA trade deadline last season, but having a ridiculous winning streak isn’t a strategy. Fundamentally, even with overhauling the roster, the Mavericks might need more than one offseason to get back to contender status due to the large amount of holes the roster had at season end.

The trump card for the Dallas Mavericks to prove articles like this wrong is Doncic. He’s the straw that stirs the drink. The Mavericks go as far as Luka wants to take them. Sometimes, asking even more from Luka seems unfair, but improving within the margins matters. If Doncic's physical conditioning is improved and he plays 72 games, Dallas should be able to avoid the play-in tournament this upcoming season.

The Dallas Mavericks are ranked eighth in the most national TV games in the 2023-24 season, so despite the low expectations of Dallas, all eyes will be on the Mavericks for 28 games, whether the season outcome is positive or negative.