Last season, the Dallas Mavericks reached the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2011. The team also won their first playoff series in 11 years. Dallas set the bar high heading into the 2022-23 season, but can they do it again?
The better ones are saying “no” right now. According to FanDuel Sportbook, Dallas has a 12-in-1 chance of reaching the Western Conference Finals again. This ranks the Mavs with the seventh-best odds in the West. Teams ahead of them include the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns, whom the Mavs beat in the conference semifinals.
So, what’s the cause of this pessimism? Is it the departure of Mavs’ second-leading scorer Jalen Brunson or the team’s lack of depth at the wing?
The Dallas Morning News believes it’s more of the former.
“No surprise the Mavericks slid in national expectation after failing to achieve their No. 1 offseason goal – resigning Brunson,” wrote Callie Caplan.
Last season, Brunson was the team’s second-best player in both the regular season and playoffs. His best performance came in the first-round series against the Utah Jazz, where he averaged 27.8 points per game. In Game 2, it was his 41-point performance that allowed Dallas to tie the series without Luka Doncic playing.
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With Brunson out, the team will rely heavily on Tim Hardaway Jr. and Spencer Dinwiddie to pick up the offense when Doncic needs a breather.
“With Spencer starting, Hardaway is coming back. We believe the points will be there,” said Kidd in a recent interview.
If Dallas hopes to prove the doubters wrong, it will need to get off to a fast start. Last season, Luka Doncic struggled in the first half of the year despite averaging 27.5 points. His biggest woes came in October when he averaged 22.5 points on 42 percent overall shooting.
“Should Doncic start the year in top shape, watch for the Mavericks to avoid another slow start and contend for home-court seeding down the stretch,” wrote Caplan.
Doncic certainly appears to be in great physical shape as he prepares to lead the Slovenian national team in EuroBasket play. The Mavs hope that remains the case when training camp begins in September.
The biggest question remaining: Will the team be able to replace Brunson’s production before the season begins? Adding Christian Wood into the mix helps with replacing points, but Dallas still needs another playmaker.