Before the first tipoff this season, the Dallas Mavericks were pegged to be a borderline playoff team. At least that’s how most observers saw it. After all, a team still putting the pieces together would find it hard to compete in a crowded Western conference full of potential contenders.
But after a good start, maybe it is time to take another look at these Mavs. Yes, we’re only seven games into a long grind, and the Mavs are just 1-2 against the other teams in the West that figured to be playoff competitors. But this team has shown enough spark to reassess, and maybe buy bargain tickets while they’re still a bargain.
The Big Guys
Any assessment starts with the big guys, Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. They’re the ones we looked forward to seeing together ever since Porzingis came from New York in that big trade back in February.
Porzingis is coming off of an ACL injury that put him out for much of last year, but his recovery seems to be coming along. He’s averaging 19 points and 8 rebounds a game, and putting in the heavy lifting of 32 minutes each night.
Doncic is doing what we expected, leading the team in scoring and developing into the dominant player we saw signs of in an elite rookie year.
Who’ll Step Up?
But the big question about this squad is, who will step up to give those two some help? Tim Hardaway Jr., Justin Jackson, Seth Curry, J.J. Barea? The list of candidates is fortunately long.
But the verdict is still out. A number of players have contributed at one time or the other. That’s good news. The bad news? The fact that on most any other team any of the other three starters would be considered bench players.
Will It Work?
It is those support players that make this team a mystery. So far, no one player has been the go-to No. 3 scorer.
The Mavs have four players besides the big two averaging 9 and 10 points each through the first seven games.
The 35-year-old veteran Barea came in from an injury to spark the team
briefly with 11 points and 3 assists in his first game against Orlando. But it is too much to ask to expect that to be an everyday thing.
It makes sense that three games in which more players have chipped in have been wins. But only one of those games, the 109-106 victory in Denver, was against what we’ll call a strong team. Nine players were in double figures in that one.
The other two wins, which seven Mavs scored in doubles, were at Cleveland and at home against Orlando.
In the losses to Portland and the Lakers, five guys contributed about 70 percent of the scoring load.
So finding a consistent winning formula there might be difficult. If the Mavs can spread the scoring around a little more and take pressure off of their stars, this will be a playoff season.
The thing is, the Mavs are 5-2 and look like a hot stock in the NBA. They have a pretty nice schedule over the next two weeks, and continuing their winning ways isn’t out of the question. Particularly interesting is the home stand that begins on Saturday, Nov. 16 vs. Toronto and includes a Wednesday outing against San Antonio.
While they are reasonably priced, it is good to buy tickets to Mavericks games now.