the 5 big questions of the Dallas Mavericks

Each season the NBA brings its share of questions and intrigues. It’s the same thing all the time, a few days before the recovery. Which player will perform? Which coach will be fired? Who am I ? In which shelf? Where squash? For each of the 30 franchises, we have selected the 5 major questions for the 2022-23 edition: the seat of the day is allocated to the Dallas Mavericks.

#1: Can Luka Doncic take his team… even further?

This is THE big question of the Dallas Mavericks 2022-23 season. Alone, surrounded by role players, Can Luka Doncic triumph over a Western Conference pregnant with All-Stars? It will not be easy to bring out the Suns, to hit the Nuggets in good health (and therefore in full), to take revenge against the Clippers, to reverse the hierarchy installed against the Warriors, to curb the youth of the Grizzlies and the Wolves new look. Add to that hair-scratching teams like the Pelicans and Lakers, and the usual Process pattern is turned upside down. If Luka Doncic fails to propel his Mavericks “quickly” into the conference final, what will we say? We love Christian Wood and Dorian Finney-Smith, but the absence of a lieutenant at least “All-Starisable” withdraws a lot of guarantees within a conference oh so high. At the moment T, the Mavericks are surfing on a good wave and progressing from year to year. No reason to draw a pessimistic observation, but Louka – even with 45 points per game – will not be able to get by alone.

#2: Is Christian Wood a 6th man?

We left him in Houston, Christian Wood has since fallen into the big pool of ambitions. In Dallas, the 27-year-old strong winger will be « primarily used as a sixth man »says Jason Kidd at Media Day of the Mavericks. Shortly after this statement, interviewed in the podcast @LockedOnMavs, Christian Wood did not even seem to have been informed of the project his trainer had in store for him. Well, that’s absolutely not the important thing: can he perform – or not – in a role of 6th man, when no “high-caliber” interior squats the starting five? Started in 122 of his 222 career NBA games, one of the best non-drafters in the League will have this double task of managing his ego/adapting to coming off the bench. A condition sine qua non to the validation of the previous question.

#3: Did we lose (too) big in Dallas with the departure of Jalen Brunson?

In the summer of 2020, any fan would have made the point “Oh damn, Dallas lost Jalen Brunson”any other fan would have answered him « It’s okay, Trey Burke is in the same register ». A comparison which, two years later, has seriously taken the lead in the wing. With 16.3 points at 50% shooting including 37% from parking, 3.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists last season, Jalen Brunson – freshly landed at the Knicks – took a huge step to the point of entering, all things considered, in the last discussion for the MIP trophy. In Dallas, he was the second offensive option behind Luka Doncic, and will potentially be the No. 1 under the lights of Madison Square Garden. While he’s not a great defender and targeting him may even be a viable strategy for opposing forwards, his energy, pace in his runs and accuracy of execution will be missing from the heart of the Mavs game. A bit like removing his two bishops from a chess player. The king is still in place, his court is diminishing.

#4: How to resupply Davis Bertans at the trade deadline?

Very nice this Latvian, but 16 million dollars a season is expensive for sniper bullets. Under contract with the Mavericks at least until the summer of 2024 (2024-25 season not guaranteed), Davis Bertans does not really represent added value in a workforce that aims for the top of the table. It would have been necessary to devote « only » 9 or 10 million to him a year, but the Wizards had their reason that reason still ignores. At the end of last season, in 22 games played, Davis Bertans scored only 5.3 points on average at 36% of the parking lot. « Yeah but TrashTalk, it’s not just statistics in life » : for players like this Guillaume Tell who ate a 205 roundabout in Paris, they unfortunately count a lot. We wish good luck to Nico Harrison – GM of the Mavericks – to find a pig… a franchise interested in Davis Bertans.

#5: is the Top 3 accessible?

If the Mavericks fail to progress in the Playoffs, or even maintain the established rhythm (at least the conference final), crack the top 3 of the regular could be a great accomplishment. An accomplishment that would greatly soften the patience of Luka Doncic, for the moment not really put to the test, but whose limits will blush – or not – with time and the absence of the NBA Finals. Whatever happens, if it wants to keep its best player since Dirk Nowitzki, the Texas franchise must find a way to take advantage of last season, and this every summer for the next ten years. No happiness without pain, but with a valiant heart nothing is impossible.

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