The 2010’s decade was up-and-down for the Dallas Mavericks. The bookends were great. The decade started with the 2010-2011 season where the Mavericks won the franchise’s only NBA championship, and it ended with Luka Doncic at the helm. Pretty crazy. But everything in between was kind of boring. The Mavericks got rid of most of their team the offseason after winning the title (which is still ridiculous to me) and things went downhill from there. Dirk Nowitzki was the only constant in Dallas. He kept things interesting for a while, making the playoffs four out of the five following seasons, but his supporting cast was a revolving door. Despite the decline, the Mavericks still had some awesome players who provided some awesome moments. Let’s take a look at who I would consider the ten most exciting Mavericks of the last decade. Keep in mind, exciting does not necessarily mean best, or most talented. Exciting means they provided a bright spot, no matter how small it was, in times where there did not seem to be too many bright spots occurring. Game winners, big dunks, big games, big moments, great defense, or impact… all of these things could be considered exciting. With that in mind, let’s take a look.
His time in Dallas has been too short and KP simply has not seen the floor enough. The trade alone was almost enough, but a few healthy and consistent seasons would for sure put him in the top ten.
It absolutely killed me leaving D-Steve off of this list. He was a giant part of the championship roster and his job defending Lebron deserves a TON of respect. If this list was top eleven, he would be my addition.
Deron Williams was a player that the Mavericks were interested in signing for years. When they finally got him, he was out of his prime and he was not the same player he once was. That is not to say that his stint in Dallas wasn’t fun. D-Will provided some awesome moments including an incredible game-winner against the Kings in double OT. This, unfortunately, was not enough to get him on the list.
10. Yogi Ferrell
This is a perfect example of what I meant when I said excitement is different than talent. There is no way that Ferrell was a better Maverick than any of the dudes who were honorable mentions, but his first little stretch as a Mav was insane. When Ferrell was picked up by the Mavericks, they were 16-30, featured an older Dirk, and were led in scoring by Harrison Barnes. It’s safe to say fans needed something fun. Yogi Ferrell was fun. He averaged 15.2 PPG in his first nine games on the team. In his fourth game, he scored 32 points, went 9/11 from three, and hit a dagger to win the game in Portland. He spent one more year in Dallas before spurring the Mavs for Sacramento in free agency.
9. Dennis Smith Jr.
The Dallas Mavericks took Dennis Smith Jr. with the ninth pick in the 2017 draft, making him Dallas’ first lottery selection since Kelly Olynyk in 2013, so excitement was there from the beginning. It was a bleak situation in Dallas when they selected DSJ out of North Carolina State. Harrison Barnes was leading the team, Dirk was old, and Nerlens Noel was the most exciting player on the team. That team and their fans NEEDED somebody like Dennis Smith Jr. The Mavs didn’t get much better, in fact, they got a little worse, but every fan tuned in to watch DSJ play. Every game there was another highlight. He was dunking on people every night. It had been a long time since the Mavericks were consistently featured on SportsCenter, Bleacher Report, or any other national social media, but DSJ provided that. Of course, at the time we had no idea that in a year, a kid named Luka Doncic would be featured on a national level every single day. If I had to use one word to describe DSJ during his time in Dallas, I would use exciting. In his second season he became the centerpiece in the Kristaps Porzingis trade, and two seasons after that he was dealt to Detroit.
8. Vince Carter
Vince Carter is still known as one of the most exciting players in NBA history, but by the time he got to Dallas, he was older and a much different player than he used to be. He was no longer the high-flying super-human that he was back in the day, but he was still a good NBA player. When I think of Vince Carter’s time in Dallas I think of one play, and I’m sure all of you know exactly which play I am thinking about. 2014. Playoffs. Mavs vs. Spurs. Game Three. The Mavericks were the eighth seed in the playoffs, playing against their in-state rival, who was the number one seed. The Mavs took one game in San Antonio to even the series heading back to Dallas. The Spurs were leading Game Three by two points with 1.7 seconds left, but the Mavericks had the possession and were going to inbound the ball. Everybody everywhere thought it would either go to Dirk Nowitzki or Monta Ellis. But Vince Carter came off of Dirk’s screen, caught the ball in the corner with Manu Ginobli draped all over him, pump-faked, shot, and nailed a three to win the game. Those who were at the game say it is the loudest they have ever heard the American Airlines Center. Carter left the Mavs and continued his path as a journeyman before retiring in 2020 playing for the Atlanta Hawks.
7. Jason Kidd
By the time Jason Kidd returned for his second stint in Dallas, he was past his prime, of course, his prime being one of the top point guards basketball has ever seen, but he was still a great player. Jason Kidd was the starting point guard on Dallas’ championship roster and was a huge reason the Mavericks won a ring. He was no longer the young, athletic guard that he used to be. He now relied on his brain. Jason Kidd has one of the great basketball minds in NBA history. That is something he never lost. He never made a bad play. Even at his old age he was one of the best passers in the league and had turned into one of the better defenders as well. There is not one moment that really captures how exciting Kidd was, you just knew it when you saw it. Without Kidd, I’m not sure Dallas wins that championship, and for that reason, he belongs on this list.
6. Monta Ellis
Monta Ellis sort of fell into Dallas’ lap when he slipped through the cracks during the 2013 free agency. The Mavs had missed on some big names so they had to settle for a guy like Ellis, although I do not like the word “settled” in this situation. The Monta Ellis era in Dallas was a ton of fun. Ellis became Dirk’s sidekick, relieving him of a lot of the workload. Monta Ellis also relieved him of some of the clutch shots. During his time, he hit two game-winners, one against Portland, and one against Milwaukee. He was a quick, electric guard who averaged 19 PPG in Dallas. The Mavs had missed the playoffs for the first time since the 1999-2000 season when he came in, and with his help, they improved and made the playoffs the following season. Ellis is one of my favorite Mavericks I’ve ever watched and that era of Mav basketball, although weird, was a lot of fun. Monta Ellis signed with the Pacers after two years in Dallas and played there for two seasons before his career ended.
5. Shawn Marion
Shawn Marion was one of the few guys who stuck around for a while after winning the title in 2011. He was another giant part of that team’s success. The Matrix, which is one of the best nicknames in NBA history, was tasked with defending Lebron James and Dwayne Wade during the NBA Finals, and he did an outstanding job with both tasks. That Dallas team had a defensive identity. Outside of Dirk and Jason Terry, everybody in the rotation could defend and I would say that Shawn Marion was one of the leaders. whether it was a break-away dunk, an alley-oop finish, or a steal and score his flashy athleticism made him super fun to watch. Marion is one of my all-time favorite players. He belongs on this list. Marion left Dallas and spent one year in Cleveland before retiring.
4. Tyson Chandler
Tyson Chandler had two separate stints in Dallas, and both times he was a beast. In 2010, the team acquired him to be a defender and a rebounder and he did those two jobs perfectly. He brought crazy amounts of energy every time he stepped on the court. Nobody wanted to mess with Chandler. He and Jason Kidd gained chemistry quickly and would become a pick-and-roll duo that was hard to stop. When Tyson Chandler dunked the ball, it was like he was trying to rip the rim off of the basket. His ferocious energy made him a centerpiece on the 2011 team. The Mavericks inexplicably let him walk the following year but brought him back again in 2014 and once again, inexplicably let him walk again. The second tenure was similar to the first. He brought the same energy and played with the same intensity. Tyson Chandler would play for many teams, most recently the Rockets.
3. Jason Terry
Jason Terry was Dirk’s ultimate sidekick. The two developed a great personal relationship, but more importantly, their relationship on the court won them lots of games. Their pick-and-roll became almost impossible to guard. But his three-point shooting is what provided the most excitement. The dude was like a microwave. He would get hot real fast. A perfect example was Mother’s Day in 2011, the Mavericks faced the Lakers in Game Four of the Western Conference Semi-Finals. Dallas was up 3-0 over the defending champs, and the close-out game was in Dallas. Jason Terry came out hot and Dallas never looked back. He led a trio of bench players, J.J. Barea and Peja Stojakovic, that finished with 75 points. Terry scored 32 of those points, on 11/14 shooting and 9/10 shooting from three. He BURIED the Lakers. He is also remembered for hitting a huge dagger to close out Game Five of the Finals and for leading the Mavericks in Game Six to close out the NBA Finals. Dirk had led the team in scoring in every game in that series to that point, but when Dirk started slow, JET took over. He scored 32 points that night, which clinched the title. Jason Terry will go down as not only one of my favorite Mavericks of all time, but one of the greatest Mavericks of all time. Terry sadly moved on from Dallas and played for a few more teams before retiring after the 2017-18 season.
2. Luka Doncic
This one really does not need too much explaining. Hopefully, everybody reading this already knows about Doncic. It’s not just his shot-making in the final five minutes that make him exciting, but it is also everything else he does in the other 43 minutes. The excitement factor for Luka is the craziest I’ve ever seen. He can do anything at any moment and people will go crazy. Whether that is a crossover, a pass, or a stepback three, anything can happen when he has the ball in his hands which is what makes him so exciting.
1. Rajon Ro- wait no, sorry… Dirk Nowitzki
Dirk Nowitzki did a lot of great things during his 21 year run in Dallas. He led the Mavericks to the playoffs a total of 15 times, 12 of those appearances coming consecutively. He made the All-Star Game 14 times in his career, 11 of those were consecutive. He was the first European to ever start in the All-Star game. He made 12 All-NBA teams. He finished his career sixth on the All-Time NBA scoring list. He was the first European to ever win league MVP. He was a two-time Western Conference Champion. All of that was exciting, but nothing in sports is more exciting than winning a championship, and in 2011, Dirk Nowitzki avenged his 2006 loss to the Heat and won his first and only ring. That was the most exciting moment in Dallas Mavericks history, and the most exciting moment in Dallas since the Stars won around a decade earlier. The accolades were fun, but nothing is better than a title. This one was easy.