After yet another crazy offseason, the regular season schedule has been released and another great year of NBA basketball is looming in the distance. And thankfully for Mavs fans, Dallas has assembled a formidable roster – for Dirk Nowitzki’s possible last season – that isn’t going to be tanking for the first time in 3 years. The Dallas Mavericks actually have a goal this season that is much more familiar to the fans in DFW: making the playoffs.
However, having a goal and achieving that goal are two very different things, especially in this Western Conference that never seems to get any worse. While the Mavericks have definitely improved this summer, so have many other teams have as well, most notably the Los Angeles Lakers signing the best player in basketball, LeBron James. Being one of the top 8 teams in the West is a huge challenge, especially for a Mavs team that is young and hasn’t experienced winning lately.
Just looking at the eight teams that made the playoffs last season, every one of those teams has a legitimate shot at making the playoffs again. On top of that, you have teams like the Lakers, Nuggets, Clippers, and Grizzles – who are getting back Mike Conley and Marc Gasol from injuries – that have legitimate shots at contending for a playoff spot.
If we look at teams that are basically guaranteed a playoff spot in the Western Conference, it’s safe to say that the Warriors, Rockets, Thunder, and the LeBron-led Lakers are locks to make the postseason, assuming no major injuries occur. People may argue with the Lakers being there, but I wouldn’t bet against a player who’s been to EIGHT consecutive NBA Finals and never missed the playoffs to just get to the postseason.
After those four teams, San Antonio, Utah, Minnesota, Portland, New Orleans, and Denver will probably all be in contention. That’s six teams that most experts wouldn’t say the Mavs are better than right now and only four more spots left. So, unfortunately, if I were to make an official prediction, I would say the Mavericks miss the playoffs this year, even though their team is vastly improved and will almost certainly have a much better record than last season. Unless Luka Doncic has a Donovan Mitchell-type rookie season, and Dennis Smith Jr. takes an All-star step forward, the Mavs will most likely be out of the postseason again.
Mavs fans still have reason to be excited this season, though. With Dennis Smith Jr. having a year under his belt, Luka Doncic becoming a focal point in this offense, and DeAndre Jordan anchoring this defense, the Mavericks will be a fun team to watch and can still steal a few wins from those upper-tier Western Conference teams. The potential for this team is sky-high, and while we may not get to witness it this season, this Dallas team should be back in the playoffs in the near future.
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