Dallas Mavericks season breakdown stirs up more questions than answers

Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

Sitting healthy starters, an NBA investigation and a blowout loss to the Spurs, the Dallas Mavericks season breakdown stirs up more questions than answers

To say the 2022-23 Dallas Mavericks NBA season was disappointing is a gross understatement. We all knew the run to the Western Conference Finals last season was a fluke but there was a lot of optimism around this team coming into the season.

The Dallas Mavericks started the season strong, scoring a lot of points, winning games and even the losses early on were close games to very good teams. Jason Kidd’s lineup choices were questioned early on with confusing decisions including how he was using Christian Wood who was the big offseason acquisition for this team.

Dallas hovered around .500 for the next couple of months until late December. The Dallas Mavericks rocketed off 7 straight wins that had three different 50-point games by Luka Doncic including a Mavericks franchise record 60-point game by Doncic against the New York Knicks on December 27th.

January showed the Dallas Mavericks giving up all that ground they had gained going 6-9 in the month. While Luka was playing great offense, the defense was getting exposed along with most of the team’s play. They couldn’t keep big leads and Jason Kidd’s decision making was being criticized again.

At the trade deadline, the Dallas Mavericks made one of the biggest moves that the organization had ever done, trading for Kyrie Irving. While this was a big risk, given Irving’s fallout with every other team he’s played for, this was a move that most Mavs’ fans liked and had a lot of hope for. It was a move Mark Cuban and Nico Harrison had to make.

While Kyrie Irving played very well, injuries kept Luka and Kyrie from playing together for a good chunk of the final weeks of the season. The Dallas Mavericks actually played worse. There were flashes of offensive brilliance but a lot of clunky play and a bad record are what defines the Kyrie era in Dallas, so far.

The season ended Sunday against the Spurs with an embarrassing 138-117 loss. Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving and Christian Wood did not play in this game. This seemed deliberate for a shot at  better draft position. The Dallas Mavericks lost 9 out of their last 11 games including a 115-112 loss to Chicago on April 7th. A very winnable game while they still had a shot at the play-in tournament. A healthy Kyrie Irving was benched and Luka played in only the 1st quarter.

The loss to the Bulls was the game that got the Dallas Mavericks in hot water with the NBA. An investigation was launched to look into the decision by the Mavericks to sit healthy players while still in playoff contention as the NBA is working to dissuade teams from not playing star players in meaningful games as a form of “load management”.

Now that the Mavs’ season is finished we look to this offseason with less excitement than last year. While the Dallas Mavericks look to have a top ten draft pick, pending the outcome of the NBA’s investigation, there are a lot of questions and concerns of what this roster may look like on game 1 of in 2023.

It seems less likely that Kyrie Irving will re-sign with the Dallas Mavericks, although he is still saying he loves it in Dallas. There have been rumors that Irving is likely to sign with the Miami Heat but the Mavs could potentially pull off a sign-and-trade.

Christian Wood was offered a contract extension earlier in the season but with how Jason Kidd used him in the lineup all season it looks more and more unlikely that either party wants to continue in this direction.

The whole idea is to keep Luka happy and build a team around him. The Dallas Mavericks have made this their goal but have failed to build a contender around the star, not for a lack of trying. Rumors that Luke is unhappy and that the Mavs feared him demanding a trade in 2024 have come up, Luka has since denied those rumors and assured Mav’s fans that he is happy here.