Mavs

Post-Dirk Era Yields Plenty of Upside

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On February 2nd, 1998, Dirk Nowitzki played his first regular-season NBA game for the Dallas Mavericks. Janet Jackson’s song “Together Again” was the number one song on the billboard charts. Titanic was dominating the box office. Kids were putting away their collection of Pogs to start collecting Pokemon cards; It was a different era.

21 seasons, and 31,560 points later, Dirk played his final home game to a sold-out crowd on April 9th, 2018.

NBA legends Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, Shawn Kemp, and Detlef Schrempf were in attendance to bid him farewell. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, or in any of the houses that watched.

Heading into the 2019-20 season, the Dallas Mavericks will be revitalizing a franchise without their superstar. Thankfully for the team, and fans alike, the pieces they are picking up have a bright future. Reigning Rookie-of-the-Year, Luka Doncic, and newly acquired big-man, Kristaps Porzingis, must replace tremendous talent.

3 Reasons for the Dallas Mavericks to be Optimistic

1: Youth. The Doncic and Porzingis duo is one of the more exciting young duos in the NBA. The league has moved away from teams positioning themselves with three stars and limited depth, instead moving towards ones with two stars with a capable surrounding cast. Doncic is only 20 years old, younger than rookies De’Andre Hunter and Jarrett Culver. Porzingis has been in the league for three seasons but is still only 24 years old. Youth is on the Mavericks’ side, going from having one of the older rosters in the league to now only having three players over 30.

2: Continuity. The Mavericks no longer give players short, prove-it contracts. This offseason, six players signed a multi-year contract or secured a multi-year contract extension. Even rookie Isaiah Roby, picked 45th overall, is under team control for the next four years. Likewise, all of the contracts appear to be pretty team-friendly as well, so this team will have time to grow together and hopefully build something special.

3: Potential. The league is very competitive right now. Sure, most experts and armchair GM’s generally agree on who the top teams will be, but with this past offseason’s player movement, no team is without areas of concern. An injury here, a feud there, and an up-and-coming team hungry to prove themselves can topple any of these top teams. If the FIBA World Cup taught us anything, it’s that just having the most talent on your team doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to win it all.

3 Areas to Keep an Eye On

1: Health. One of the biggest questions when the Mavericks traded with the New York Knicks for Porzingis, who tore his ACL in February 2018, was how well would he recover? Giving up two future first-round picks and promising young point guard Dennis Smith Jr., to sign Porzingis to a 5-year max contract is going to be tough to accept if he hasn’t fully recovered. Porzingis isn’t worried. During the Mavericks media day, he told reporters “I didn’t want to halfway do it – maybe I’m good, maybe I’m not so good. So, I made sure I’m 100 percent healthy, and now I’m back.”

2: Depth. On paper, it looks like the Mavericks have decent depth on the bench. What management hasn’t determined is: which lineup is going to lead to the most success? Head coach Rick Carlisle loves to tinker with player positions and roles, so a good bet is this season will be no different. However, other questions loom. Will Tim Hardaway Jr. be more efficient? Which wing player rises to take the starting position? If Jalen Brunson continues to wow coaches on the court, what do you do with Delon Wright? Do you roll with Maxi Kleber starting alongside Porzingis for his defensive ability, or Dwight Powell because of his offensive ability?

3: Playoffs. The Western division is very talented. There are going to be 12 to 13 teams fighting for eight playoff spots. However, if the Mavericks moved to the East, they would easily sneak into the playoffs – but the West is wild. It’s hard to predict how the season will unfold right now. At best, the Mavs surprise many and can be a bottom-tier playoff team. At worst, they win 40+ games and miss out on the opportunity to keep playing.

Finding a New Identity

This season is going to be a build-block season for years to come. Without Dirk taking the court, this team is going to have to find their identity behind Doncic and Porzingis. They will need to establish a winning culture that Mavs fans had grown accustomed to during the Aughts. The team won 50+ games 11 years in a row, culminating in a championship. One fact is for sure; this team is going to be fun.

The Dallas Mavericks home tipoff is on October 23rd against the Washington Wizards. So pack up your pogs and your pokemon cards, put away your Whitney Houston CD and Titanic VHS, it’s a new era for Mavs fans.

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