The Mavericks have lost 11 of their last 12 games echoing a growing theme to tank in hopes of securing a top 5 draft pick. The struggling squad remains entertaining even in loses like last night versus the Spurs. With the playoffs presumably an after thought lets take a look at the potential make up of next years club.
This seasons team has remained entertaining while simultaneously executing a organizational goal of sustaining a chance at a high draft. Naturally, Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis are expected to be key cogs in the Maverick machine next season but who else will join the crusade? According to basketball-reference.com the Mavericks have seven players under contract for the 2019 – 2020 season.
|1st Round Pick
|1st Round Pick
Obviously, we can surmise the front office won’t rest until KP is signed this off season while Dirk has yet to make a decision on his retirement. Although a small piece to the teams overall production Dirk’s decision will be met with respect and gratitude. So with potentially nine players returning to the roster its clear this teams off seasons additions must be significant and impactful. A roster stout with quality experienced role players can be perceived as a solid foundation but there are holes the team must aggressively address if they want to return to playoff and title contention.
To maintain a quality bench the Mavericks must retain the services of Dwight Powell. The big man could bounce this off season if he exercises his player option. The hustle and heart of this fifth year veteran would be sorely missed if he decides to leave. When the season began he was significantly under utilized only averaging about 19 minutes per game. However, as his minutes increased so did his production. Over the past ten games Powell is averaging 16 points, 7 rebounds in 31 minutes of action. This is a drastic increase from his season averages of 10 points and 5 rebounds per game. Powell has ceased on the opportunity afforded to him creating a buzz that could land him a contract worth more than the 10.2 million he is potentially due next year. If he chooses to bet on himself by opting out it could prove detrimental to a bench the Mavericks have meticulously created. Expect Cuban and company to make Powell a cardinal focus once the season ends.
Although difficult and unlikely retaining Dorian Finney-Smith should be high on the teams to-do list. The swing-man’s defense clearly places him on a different level but the professionalism he has displayed this year should be rewarded in an effort to build team morale. Due to trades and other player acquisitions DFS saw his role change multiple times yet his demeanor remained positive and most importantly locked in. As the season progress the distribution of minutes became unpredictable which could negatively impact a players production. The multifaceted Finney-Smith has been utilized in every significant 5 man rotation deployed by Rick Carlisle. Here’s a list of those lineups in order by minutes played. Notice a familiar theme?
|H. Barnes | L. Doncic | D. Finney-Smith | D. Jordan | D. Smith
|J. Barea | D. Finney-Smith | D. Harris | M. Kleber | D. Powell
|L. Doncic | D. Finney-Smith | D. Jordan | W. Matthews | D. Smith
|J. Barea | D. Finney-Smith | D. Harris | D. Nowitzki | D. Powell
|H. Barnes | L. Doncic | D. Finney-Smith | D. Jordan | W. Matthews
|J. Brunson | L. Doncic | D. Finney-Smith | T. Hardaway | M. Kleber
|H. Barnes | D. Finney-Smith | D. Jordan | W. Matthews | D. Smith
|J. Brunson | L. Doncic | D. Finney-Smith | T. Hardaway | D. Powell
|J. Barea | H. Barnes | L. Doncic | D. Finney-Smith | D. Jordan
|J. Barea | J. Brunson | D. Finney-Smith | M. Kleber | D. Powell
Dorian provides a toughness that cant be easily replaced. After going undrafted in 2016 he has made himself necessary to the teams future success. Providing a player impact similar to Shawn Marion coupled with a more consistent outside shot elevates his importance. Considering the previous prosperity experienced with similar players you have to think at the right price the Mavs would warrant his return.
Although well deserved the looming uncertainty of the off season will be perceived as a bust unless the club can produce a superstar. Names such as Nikola Vucevic, Kemba Walker and even Khris Middleton have been mentioned as potential free agent targets. Two of the mentioned three players were All-Stars this season which outlines a potential pattern of pursuit. Most would agree the caliber of player pursued must equal or exceed the current talent level on the squad. However as most teams try and continue a pattern of recreating a big 3.
The Mavs could expose a market deficiency by creating a more cohesive team. Tayloring the talent more specifically to a system as opposed to accumulating a hodgepodge of talented players with undefined roles. Implementing a team oriented plan would rekindle memories of old. The method used to produce the Mavs lone championship grants experiences only a few NBA teams are familiar with. They not only found but seamlessly connected multiple pieces to a rapidly improving roster. This time can management utilize the draft in combination with free agency to turn around this sub .500 team? We will find out in just a few months.
The Mavericks find themselves in a transition period many would call favorable but the potential for disaster is still there. The team must continue a process of executing the plan. Manipulating each circumstance to a favorable position. If executed correctly the Mavs have an opportunity to low key finesse the NBA. If they can somehow keep their top 5 protected draft pick and acquire a marquee free agent this off season the outcome should be a return to prominence.
Even without the draft pick the team has plenty of capital to be aggressive and steadfast in their pursuit of talent. Although some what daunting the future is bright and full of potential for the Mavericks. Fans will just have to make it through this season to witness a blossoming of the potential.
Photo: Glenn James/ NBAE via Getty Images (featured) Stats: www.basketball-reference.com