The Dallas Mavericks have not, and will not, give up trying to win and it’s that winners’ mentality that will pay dividends down the road.
Knowing the team has no shot at a title, should a team like the Dallas Mavericks tank in order to “theoretically” get a better draft pick? I admit I waffled on this one a bit over the years. Before this season I was among those who wholeheartedly answered in the affirmative.
Now, after suffering through what could be considered the worst season in roughly two decades, I think differently. I still believe in the power of the draft. And I still believe in building through youth and development. But I no longer believe in tanking or any passive form of tanking (like benching/trading/shutting down players to purposely lose).
Losing games eventually leads to losing cultures and losing cultures lead to loser players. And it’s awfully hard to change losers into winners without massively overhauling the entire roster, coaching staff, and program.
The mettle of the Dallas Mavericks organization, from top to bottom, has been put to the test. Never once did they concede defeat.
See also: The Philadelphia 76ers.
The 76ers are the greatest illustration of strategic tanking we’ve seen in recent years. In what is known as “the process” the 76ers purposely traded and avoided win-now players for win-later players. In “the process” they collected draft picks and lottery players. The result? A roster of highly talented losers.
For the past few seasons the Dallas Mavericks were the 76ers’ polar opposites. Instead of tanking, the Mavs pressed on. Even with a roster that assured nothing more than a first round playoff exit, the Mavs fought on. In doing so, they developed heart-break and character.
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As I fan I was horrified by the futility of the struggle. Not satisfied with annual first round exits, I lobbied for gambles. “Win big or lose big”, I’d say. “If you’re not a legitimate contender then get that budding young talent at the top of the draft.”
But I was wrong.
Never has a losing season felt so good. The mettle of the Dallas Mavericks organization, from top to bottom, has been put to the test. Never once did they concede defeat. Never did they throw in the towel and never did they consider the “T” word.
Sure, they traded/dumped some players. But Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut had such a minimal impact on winning for the Dallas Mavericks, that they became progress-stoppers. In fact, the Mavs became substantially more entertaining when those two were effectively replaced by Yogi Ferrell and Nerlens Noel .
With a mix of talented veterans and young budding stars, the Dallas Mavericks have a team that could compete in the short-term as well as the long-term. Without conceding defeat the coaching staff (Rick Carlisle) and ownership (Mark Cuban) has maintained credibility throughout the process.
The playoffs are out and there are only a handful of games remaining but there isn’t one ounce of “quit” in this team. Despite the losing season this is not a team of losers. It’s a team of fighters. Few will question that this was a pivotal season for the Dallas Mavericks, but I’ll argue it was pivotal in a positive way.