By: Nicholas Gilanfar
It is that time of year again as the Dallas Mavericks and the rest of the NBA began training camps on Wednesday.
This upcoming camp is crucial for the Mavericks as they are coming off a disappointing season not being able to make the playoffs and being Western Conference runners-up the year prior. Due to underwhelming efforts in 2022-23, the front office made some vital changes to the roster with only six players returning who were a part of last season’s training camp.
The new-look Mavericks are anticipated to make some noise in the highly coveted Western Conference this upcoming season as Mavs Fans will embark on the first training camp and first full season with the All-star backcourt in Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving. Through the first two days of camp, there are many storylines to keep in mind revolving around the roles of first-round draft picks Derrick Lively and Omax Prosper, Kyrie Irving’s motive on staying in Dallas, Seth Curry’s Homecoming, and Luka Doncic Building chemistry with his new teammates.
Prior to the turbulent season, the Mavericks had in 2022-23, Dallas did not have a draft pick in the 2023 draft as the New York Knicks had the rights to that draft pick but was a lottery-protected pick. Because the Mavericks missed the playoffs, they were able to draft in the draft lottery and return their pick as they were scheduled to pick tenth in the 2023 draft.
Dallas ended up trading back into the draft to #12 with Oklahoma City and decided to draft C Derrick Lively II from Duke with the 12th overall pick. That was supposed to be our only draft pick that night until GM Nico Harrison traded back into the draft was a salary dump by the Sacramento Kings where they gave the Mavericks both C Richaun Holmes and the draft rights to #24 pick Olivier-Maxence Prosper from Marquette.
Prosper and lively have been quick to make an impression in Kidd’s regime taking first-team reps on the opening day of camp. The initial lineup was Doncic/Irving/Prosper/Williams/Lively which was a fluid lineup as Luka Doncic has found a new pick and roll option in both Lively and Prosper which Kidd was focusing on throughout the practice.
Lively in that scrimmage made his presence felt by being unstoppable under the basket while also showing his ball-handling abilities. Those close to the team are starting to compare the 19-year-old newcomer to a young Tyson Chandler. Dallas Mavericks Champion Tyson Chandler has taken the mantle as Lively’s mentor throughout his Mavs tenure and has joined Kidd’s coaching staff as a player development coach.
What Prosper shows in the scrimmage is that he is elusive under pressure and has incredible court awareness when getting doubled being able to make that extra pass to his teammates. As well as defensive abilities, prosper has shown aggressiveness and will make defensive stops as he has started to show a little Dorian Finney Smith in his game.
Kyrie Irving’s First Camp in Dallas
After being traded to Dallas last February from Brooklyn, the Mavs star is starting to feel at home after signing a three-year $120 million extension last offseason. Irving will be entering season 12 in the NBA coming off an overwhelming season being traded during the trade deadline for the first time in his career as his tenure with the Brooklyn Nets was rocky at times which resulted in a trade request.
So far in camp, Kyrie has felt comfortable in his decision to remain with the Mavs being seen as a valuable veteran voice in the locker room as well as a dynamic player alongside Luka Doncic as the two finally have the chance to create chemistry with one another being able to spend a full offseason together. After being welcomed by Dallas with open arms, Kyrie in his first interview of the camp stated how much that meant to him.
“I wish I would have drafted by Dallas initially. Obviously, they were not in position in 2011, but just feeling how this organization wraps their arms around the guys.”
This is Irving’s fourth team to play for as his relationships with Cleveland, Boston, and Brooklyn towards the end were unsalvageable forcing his way out each time. Hopefully, this time around Kyrie Irving and the Dallas Mavericks can have a successful conclusion at this point of Irving’s career as he focuses on his second championship ring.
Seth Curry’s Homecoming
After Kyrie Irving resigned this summer, it was followed by signing his former Brooklyn Net and Duke teammate Seth Curry where he will be entering in his third stint with the Mavericks. Curry was previously with the Mavs from 2016-2018 and 2019-2020. Curry has had to relocate a lot over the past couple of seasons being traded from Dallas to Philadelphia and then eventually traded to Brooklyn. Curry has kept his house in the DFW area all these years, so it was a no-brainer coming back to the Mavs.
With the return of Seth Curry, it definitely leaves a lot of questions on how he will fit in the lineup moving forward. So far in camp, he has had favorable minutes running as the backup shooting guard behind Kyrie Irving. The developments have been interesting as far as the Mavs will be looking to rely on Curry heavily for his ability to shoot the ball but may take minutes away from rising star Jaden Hardy.
Hardy burst onto the scene last year towards the end of the season and has the potential to be an essential piece in the backcourt for years to come. Although the way is soon to be paved for Hardy it is obvious that they brought Curry back to add another veteran as well as push Hardy to become the best version of himself.
Luka Doncic on His New Teammates
Entering his sixth season and coming fresh off yet another all-NBA campaign, Luka Doncic has returned to the States after spending the offseason back in Slovenia and is ready to make some noise. Two seasons ago, Dallas made the Western Conference finals, then there have been only five returning players from that team including Luka Doncic, Dwight Powell, Maxi Kleber, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Josh Green. This offseason the Mavericks were involved in free agency along with the draft giving Luka and the Mavericks a new team to work with.
Dallas added a potential starter this year in Grant Williams from Boston where he is entering his sixth season in the NBA just like Doncic. Williams has always been known as a clubhouse guy and has always been involved when it comes to leadership and overall team personality. Doncic, when asked about Williams during media day said that “he is a great leader who talks a lot, maybe too much” and that is a good sign because Luka and Williams are getting to the point in their careers where they must provide a veteran voice.
Preseason starts Thursday, October 5 as the Dallas Mavericks will travel to Abu Dhabi against the Minnesota Timberwolves and start the highly anticipated 2023-24 campaign.