In the 2021 NBA Playoffs, the Dallas Mavericks were eliminated by the LA Clippers for a second straight postseason. After losing in a winner-take-all Game 7, Dallas' search for its first playoff series win since 2011 continues.
Coming off of that postseason exit, the Mavericks had a relatively quiet offseason. They made moves, but those might be pale in comparison to how the landscape of the NBA has changed in the 2021 offseason.
They landed a couple of free-agents in Reggie Bullock and Sterling Brown while also acquiring a promising big man in Moses Brown as part of the trade also involving Josh Richardson. Apart from these, their major roster transactions this offseason were the re-signing of Tim Hardaway Jr and the record extension signed by Luka Doncic, both of which were more or less expected.
Off the court, however, the franchise witnessed a major management overhaul with Nico Harrison and Jason Kidd entering as the General Manager and Head Coach, respectively.
A couple of weeks into the 2021 Free Agency, our NBA.com Staff plays a game of "Fact or Fiction" to answer four pressing questions regarding the Mavericks' changes and future.
Dallas Mavericks will win 50 games in 2021-22 NBA season
Yash Matange (@yashmatange2694): Fact. Despite the relatively quiet offseason, the Mavericks have had, simply having Doncic on the roster will take Dallas to 50 wins or more. The last two seasons, where they have more or less had a similar roster, their winning percentages were 57.3 (2019-20) and 58.3 (2020-21).
There's no doubting how much stronger the rest of the league has gotten, but the Western Conference does look more top-heavy and the Mavericks are still, probably among the lower four seeds, a legitimate playoff contender.
Benyam Kidane (@BenyamKidane): Fiction. I think the Mavericks will be in the mix this season, but 50 wins might be just out of reach. With a coaching change bringing in Jason Kidd, some teething problems may come with it and in the gauntlet of the Western Conference, there's plenty of teams who finished below the Mavs last season, who look set to make big leaps, including the Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors.
Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): Fiction. Getting to 50 wins is tough, especially in the West that will see a number of teams improve. To win 50 games, a team needs a .610 win percentage, and given Dallas' minor changes this offseason, I don't see them making that type of leap.
New management will help Mavs take the next leap
Yash Matange (@yashmatange2694): Maybe. I do believe the new management and coaching staff could and will make an impact but to project them to do in the first year would be unfair. However, unfortunately, those are the expectations for the franchise. It isn't just making the playoffs or making it past the first round.
Given Doncic's age and talents, the Mavericks management would be constantly under the spotlight to assemble a contending roster around him and maximise their chances to contend for not just one but multiple NBA Championships.
Benyam Kidane (@BenyamKidane): Fact. I like the Jason Kidd hire as well as Michael Finley as the Mavs' assistant GM/Vice President of Basketball Operations alongside new GM and Head of Basketball operations Nico Harrison, giving the Mavs a clean slate from top to bottom.
Will that leap be this season though? A lot of that hinges on Doncic having an MVP-level season, which is more than likely, but the big question mark is what version of Kristaps Porzingis the Mavs get in 2021-22.
Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): Fiction. I never thought management was the issue to begin with. It's exciting to see a Mavs legend in Finley assume a management role and Harrison is said to have a keen eye for talent, but the key to this team taking a leap is roster improvement and their generational superstar becoming an MVP.
Doncic will be a Maverick for life
Yash Matange (@yashmatange2694): Fiction. Considering the current era of the NBA of player empowerment, I believe it is highly unlikely that Doncic will remain a Maverick for the rest of his career. He and the team only recently agreed to a massive 5-year contract, worth upwards of $200 million, that could keep him in Dallas until 2027, however at the end of the deal, the Slovenian would only be 27 and still in his peak years.
And unless that franchise backs him up, by putting a legitimate squad together, it would be fair for him to test the free agency waters or worse, demand a trade even earlier if the team doesn't step up.
Benyam Kidane (@BenyamKidane): Fact. The clock is ticking on the Mavs to put winning pieces around Doncic right now. He might be 22, but he's already one of the best players in the league and if they can improve every year, I can see him cementing himself as a one-team guy, especially considering the influence of Dirk Nowitzki, who handed him the keys to the franchise in his rookie season.
Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): Fact. As BK alluded to, the Nowitzki influence is real. This holds true on more levels than one. The landscape of the league has changed, sure, but still, generational talents are generational talents, and Dallas has already made a blueprint for retaining such a talent over 21 years with Dirk.
Tailor what worked in that time to modern days and you've got a Mav for life in Doncic.
Kristaps Porzingis will emerge as legit No. 2
Yash Matange (@yashmatange2694): Fiction.
There's been a lot of talk about this being the first offseason in a while that Kristaps Porzingis would be entering without an injury. Definitely, Mavericks fans would be hoping for him to have a huge bounce-back but I don't see it.
While the rest of the league is putting together a Big 3 or Big 2 of All-Stars, Dallas is still waiting on Porzingis to deliver at the same level as Doncic or at least deliver at a level expected of a legitimate No. 2. Given the expectations on him, the Latvian has disappointed and more importantly, the Mavericks have probably failed to add a legitimate 'star' next to Doncic because they still believe on the big man's potential.
Benyam Kidane (@BenyamKidane): Fact. I'm still a believer in the Unicorn.
Injuries and a rough playoff series have clouded the perception of Porzingis, setting the stage for a bounce-back season. As a player Jason Kidd brought out the best in his big men...can he do the same with the Doncic-Porzingis pairing?
Porzingis is still just 26 years old and only three years removed from being an All-Star. With a clean bill of health and a new voice in the locker room, I'm confident Porzingis can turn things around this season.
Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): Fiction. As much as I want to believe in him, Porzingis looked uncomfortable at times trying to find his spot in Dallas' system.
With a new coach, that is sure to change some, but how can Kidd put him in positions that still allow Doncic to perform at his peak level? From a production standpoint, Hardaway feels more like the No. 2 guy, which is a different conversation in itself, but, as constructed, it feels like Porzingis is best as this team's No. 3.
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