The 2023 NBA playoffs are upon us, and for the Dallas Mavericks that means watching other teams compete for the title. This is the first time since the 2018-2019 season that Dallas has failed to make the postseason. (That was Luka Doncic’s rookie year.)
Fast forward to now, and Doncic is five year veteran who has made four straight all-star appearance and three All-NBA first team selections.
Oh and not to mention, the team made the Western Conference finals last season. Something they had not done since 2011.
So what has changed for the Dallas Mavericks? How can a team one series away from the finals take a step backwards? Is there something bigger lingering?
When the Mavericks lost to the Golden State Warriors, the idea was the team could only go up from there. Some of the issues facing the team including finding big man assistance and getting secondary help for Doncic.
The team addressed both those things by first signing JaVale McGee in the summer, and trading for Christian Wood. Months later, Dallas traded for Kyrie Irving. (Something that was suppose to elevate them to the next level.)
However, the Dallas Mavericks issues go beyond the success of last season.
For starters, Dallas faced the Utah Jazz in the first round. This was a team that had below average chemistry, and were set for destruction. A round later, the Mavericks faced a disoriented and arrogant Phoenix Suns. The winning attitude took the best of them, as they collapsed in game seven.
It wasn’t until the Golden State Warriors that the Mavs finally meet their matchup. The reigning champs were able to use their upsize with Kevon Looney to outperform Dallas downlow, while matching toe to toe with their perimeter guards.
While Doncic and Jalen Brunson carried their load, other players on the team struggled to do their part. In the series, only three Mavs averaged above 15 points per game. Not to mention they were outrebounded 234-177.
Yes signing Wood and McGee were decent additions, but they were only suppose to be short term solutions. Since the departure of Tyson Chandler in 2015, Dallas has yet to find a reliable center.
As for their players around Doncic, the team has struggled to find consistency. Two seasons ago the team signed Reggie Bullock to give themselves an extra shooter. Years later and that hasn’t seem to work out. Other players like Tim Hardaway Jr. have yet to take their game to the next level.
Former Dallas Mavericks like Jalen Brunson and Dorian Finney-Smith were taking a step forward with the team before leaving or being traded elsewhere.
All the issue of having a reliable big man, reliable role players and extra scoring have all been struggles since before last season. The difference was Dallas got hot at the right time and caught a break with certain teams in the playoffs.
But, with the 2023 offseason underway for Dallas: one thing is clear – solve those past issues now before things get even worse.
Doncic is here for now, but for how much longer is the question?