With the Dallas Mavericks offseason all but finished, Mavs fans can’t wait for this upcoming season with a new and improved team and a hope to return to the playoffs for the first time in 3 years.
After a successful draft, combined with exciting free agent acquisitions that features the addition of DeAndre Jordan, the Mavs are almost certainly going to be a much better team this season. While making the playoffs in the Western Conference hasn’t gotten any easier and still looks extremely difficult, there are still many reasons to be excited for MFFL’s this season.
Here’s 3 things that Mavs fans should really be looking forward to come October:
1. Dirk Nowitzki’s (possible) last season
Yes, I know. Dirk hasn’t officially said this is going to be his last season. But this year I think it actually will be. I never thought last season was going to be Dirk’s last, mostly because he signed a two-year deal and would emphasize in multiple interviews that he wanted to finish out his contract. Even though that deal had a team option that was eventually declined, we all knew it was only declined to sign him to another one-year deal this summer.
This time, it’s actually a one-year contract. And Dirk will break Kobe Bryant’s record for most seasons with one franchise as he will play his 21st season with the Mavericks. You can read more about how loyal Dirk is here.
It seems fitting to go out after breaking a record like that, and even though Dirk still averaged a little over 12 points a game last season, it kills me to say that his decline has been evident over the last couple of years. The beautiful thing about Dirk’s decline, though, is that even when he can barely move, we’re still lucky enough to see him score double digit points a night and watch that sweet stroke every game. Even at 40 years young, Dirk could very well average around 10 points a game this season, and Mavs fans should cherish every minute of it before the legend is actually gone for good.
2. Dennis and Luka’s Development
These two players are the future of the Mavericks. The last two year’s first round picks for the Mavs bring hope for this team to be a winning organization as they were for so long before the last two seasons.
Dennis Smith Jr., entering his second season after a solid rookie year, will need to continue to improve this year and show that he has the potential to be a real star in this league. His development as the point guard of this team cannot be understated, but I believe that with one year under his belt and his insane skill set, DSJ will become even better than he was during his rookie campaign.
One thing we should pay close attention to with Smith is the consistency of his perimeter shooting. That was one major area in his game that I thought he was lacking, and while we know how explosive he is, Smith’s three point shot is going to be crucial for him to get to the next level in this league, especially with how the league is becoming so perimeter-oriented.
Then we have the Wonderboy, Luka Doncic – this year’s first round pick the Mavs traded up for in the draft. Personally, I am ecstatic to see this kid play for the Mavs. Watching how Luka develops and becomes a focal point in this offense is something I am eagerly awaiting. Given his accomplishments in the world’s second best league at the age of 19, his size, his feel for the game and his shooting ability, Doncic’s potential is limitless.
Mavs fans can look forward to the most hyped up European player ever suiting up for their franchise. With this organization dedicated to making Doncic a star, expect Luka to play a substantial number of minutes. Luka’s playmaking and his ability to play a point-forward role is something every MFFL should be excited to see this season.
3. Playoff Push
We can all be thrilled about the specific players to watch this season, but the thing fans want most is for those players to produce something the Mavs haven’t witnessed for two years: the playoffs.
Now, I’m not saying this team is a lock for the playoffs or is even likely to make it, because in this Western Conference, that’s an extremely tough thing to do. But I can confidently say the Mavs will actually be trying to win games this season unlike the last two, which Mark Cuban has admittedly told us they were tanking. This team will likely produce more than the 33-win and 24-win seasons over the last two years, respectively.
With the two studs I mentioned above, the free agent acquisitions of DeAndre Jordan, Ryan Broekhoff, and Devin Harris, and the returning cast, the Mavericks will at least compete for a playoff spot, which is more than we could say in 2017 and 2018. One of the worst feelings as a fan is watching your favorite team play, knowing that they are trying to lose and that they probably will lose.
This season, however, the Mavs don’t even have much to gain if they keep losing because unless they play so terribly that they end up in the bottom 5 of the league, they won’t even have their draft pick next summer (traded to the Hawks for Doncic with a top 5 protection). Rick Carlisle clearly stated after the draft that the Mavs are trying to win this season and get back to the postseason, and the Mavs finally have a roster again to compete. That’s something all Mavs fans should be eager to see.