By: Nicholas Gilanfar
Through a lengthy offseason with loads of anticipation coming off a losing season, the NBA is officially back as the Dallas Mavericks will tip off the season on Wednesday, October 25th against the San Antonio Spurs at 8:30 PM (CST).
For the last two seasons with the Mavericks, it is safe to say that it was a tale of two seasons. In 2021-22 the Dallas Mavericks shocked the NBA world by defeating the #1-seeded Suns in the playoffs and clinching a spot in the Western Conference Finals. In 2022-23 the Dallas Mavericks finished 11th in the West at a record of 38-44 and missed their first playoff berth in three seasons.
A lot of changes have been made since the Western Conference Finals run as the Mavericks have only five players remaining from the roster just two years removed. After the disappointing season in 2022-23, the Mavericks welcomed seven new players to the rotation as they looked to get bigger in size as well as improve on defensive versatility as Dallas ranked the seventh worst in the NBA in defensive ratings with a 116.7.
Jason Kidd Enters his third season as the Dallas Mavericks Head Coach
Dallas Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd is entering his third season as the head coach as he has a combined record of 90-74 during his tenure with the Mavs. Jason Kidd is a former player who has cemented himself as one of the greatest PGs to ever play the game. Jason Kidd’s playing career took place from 1994-2013 as he had two separate stints with the Dallas Mavericks as a player in 1994-1996 and 2008-2012 as he was a part of the 2011 NBA Championship team.
Immediately following retirement Kidd had the opportunity to coach for the Brooklyn Nets as he served one season as their head coach with a 44-38 record. After just one season the Brooklyn Nets pulled off a rare coaching trade and traded the coaching rights of Jason Kidd to the Milwaukee Bucks where he spent four seasons. Kidd ended up getting fired in the middle of the 2018 season as the Bucks were on the cusp of making the jump to the contender as they felt it was best to move on from there. Kidd then took a year off of coaching, then after numerous head coaching interests Kidd decided to take a step back and become an assistant with the Los Angeles Lakers under Frank Vogel. In Kidd’s last season with LA, they won the championship then the rest is history as Kidd then became the next coach of the Dallas Mavericks.
Coming into Kidd’s third season with the Dallas Mavericks is considered a crucial year for the head coach. Many would consider Kidd to be on the hot seat after two seasons incredibly different from one another. This season, it is likely he will instill a game plan with a higher pace as the Mavs play better at a faster pace of play. In the offseason, they solely focused on building a young and athletic core that can make a difference on both ends of the court. Hopefully, Kidd will be able to get through to these guys this year because last year he did not go about things the correct way when there was conflict within the team.
Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving’s First Full Season Together
One of the biggest storylines coming into the season is to see what a full season of the superstar backcourt duo would do for this team down the line. Luka Doncic is coming into his sixth NBA season as he has had many co-stars in his young career with the likes of Kristaps Porzingis and Jalen Brunson. With Kyrie Irving being acquired last trade deadline from the Brooklyn Nets, the anticipation is high as this is the best overall player Luka has ever played with.
Kyrie Irving will be entering his 13th year in his NBA career as he will be playing a role this year with the Mavs unlike any other role, he has ever been a part of in his illustrious NBA career. Kyrie Irving has spent time with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, and the Brooklyn Nets as he has won an NBA Championship and has earned eight all-star selections. Irving has played with some of the best players in the world such as Lebron James with Cleveland, Jayson Tatum in Boston, and Kevin Durant and James Harden with the Brooklyn Nets. Kyrie during an interview this offseason suggested that “I’m here to lead these guys in a different way they haven’t been led before”. Irving has covered a lot of ground through his time in the NBA as he has seen it all. The veteran leadership he vows to bring to this young squad will ultimately bring out the best of the team.
Throughout the offseason, Luka Doncic has welcomed the idea of playing off-ball from time to time that way he and Kyrie Irving can feed off each other better. The backcourt duo is ball-dominant and has been that way throughout their careers as that was the main problem throughout the time, they played together last year as there just wasn’t enough time to fix those tendencies through the course of the season. With faster goals, it was Luka’s initiative to instill a process of playing off the ball. It won’t only create flexibility on both ends, but it will also give the Mavericks many options and provide defensive pressure on Doncic.
The Dallas Mavericks will be welcoming seven new players to the 2023-24 squad as a roster reconstruction was needed after missing the postseason last season. Originally, the Mavs did not have a draft pick until they missed the playoffs as the New York Knicks owned a lottery-protected draft pick from Dallas.
Because the postseason was missed, the Mavs were able to gain their draft rights back to the #10 pick. Dallas ultimately traded down in the draft to #12 for the #10 and Davis Bertans to acquire Derick Lively II (2) from Duke. That was not all the Mavs did on draft night as the Sacramento Kings were slotted to pick at #18 and fortunately offloaded C Richaun Holmes (20) and the draft rights to O-max Prosper (18). The two rookies are likely to be in the rotation off the get go as they got well needed reps in the starting lineups during the preseason.
Amidst many free agent signings, one that is notably considered is the return of Seth Curry (30). This will be Curry’s third go-around with the Dallas Mavericks and the first time under Jason Kidd’s regime. Seth Curry is the brother of NBA superstar Stephen Curry as they both have similarities when it comes to efficient shooting. Curry finished the season last year with a 40.5 three-point percentage which was ranked 30 in the entire league. Curry will provide the team with well-needed shooting as he looks to be dynamic ahead of his third season with the Mavs.
The premiere free agent that Dallas acquired was Grant Williams (3) via a sign-and-trade with Boston. Williams will be entering year six as he was a prominent starter for most of his time with the Boston Celtics amidst multiple playoff runs. The idea in bringing Grant Williams in is for his three-and-d tendencies as well as veteran leadership because he has been a part of every stage in the finals and was rather productive in that position.
To wrap up the free agent signings were two under-the-radar guys who could bring a lot to this team Derrick Jones Jr. (55) and Dante Exum (0). Derrick Jones Jr. Was a late free agency signing and has had a notably good camp as he is likely to start game one. As for Dante Exum, he will be suiting up in his first NBA season in three years as he was a former lottery pick who bounced around for a while and then ultimately ended up playing overseas prior to coming the Dallas.
Projected Starting Lineup
PG Luka Donic
SG Kyrie Irving
SF Derrick Jones Jr./ Josh Green
PF Grant Williams
C Derrick Lively II
After assessing different lineups and how Kidd plans to implement the new players into the rotation it was certain off the bat that Doncic, Irving, and Williams would be the locks as potential starters. Through the slim center competition in camp, the 19-year-old rookie has shown the most promise out of any other in that position as he has shown aggressiveness and willingness to defend under the basket which is what the time desperately needs.
As for the SF position, it is unclear who Kidd will start off the bat, but it wouldn’t be surprising if they rotate through both Jones Jr. And Green. Having Jones starting gives you another veteran presence as he is able to read the floor better than Green. As for Green, he is the guy to slot in at the three when you want a fast-paced lineup as he is always willing to make the play and contribute in any way needed.
Season Prediction: 6th in the West
Just like every season, the West is highly competitive and with a new-look team like the Mavericks, the expectations set for them would be right around the 6th seed. The reinvented Mavs will be a force to be reckoned with as the season goes on, but it will be a challenge in the Wild West as the Dallas Mavericks will either start slow or hit a skid towards the end of the season.