2022-23 Season Preview: Dallas Mavericks

Another impressive season from Luka Doncic should keep the Mavericks in the top half of the West.

Jason Kidd insisted Dallas didn’t feel any pressure during their surprise run to the Western Conference Finals last season. But along the way, superstar Luka Doncic and the Mavs bet big on their opponents as they progressed through the opening round for the first time since 2011, highlighted by a stunning upset against the top-seeded Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Semifinals.

Dallas’ unexpected playoff success in 2021-22 sets the stage for high expectations this season, with Doncic poised to seriously contend for the Kia MVP award. It may be premature to catapult the Mavs into the stratosphere of a potential contender, but Doncic gives his team a legitimate shot at ending the regular season in the top half of the West category. The Slovenian also allayed concerns about being out of shape in 2022-23 (like he had last season) by throttling competition in summer’s EuroBasket 2022.

The concern now lies with the supporting cast. The Mavericks did well to suspend defensive stopper Dorian Finney-Smith with a four-year extension in February. But the club lost free agent guard Jalen Brunson to the New York Knicks in July, after a breakout season that saw the 2018 second-round pick average 16.3 points and 4.8 assists as the clear No. 2 behind Doncic . Just before Brunson lost, the Mavs traded with Houston for big man Christian Wood, who may be able to shoulder some of the scoring burden left by the late guard. Dallas also added more weight inside (and a Lob threat) with veteran center JaVale McGee and Swiss Army Knife forward Maxi Kleber, who recently signed an overtime. After Dallas sold his first-round pick to Houston in the deal for Wood, he gave up two future second-rounders to acquire the 37th pick he used to acquire Jaden Hardy in June.


BIGGEST QUESTION

We saw Doncic finally answer questions about his conditioning in EuroBasket ’22. Attention now turns to whether the Mavericks can make up for the goal lost by Brunson’s departure. The new Knick averaged 21.6 points in the playoffs, including performances of 41, 31, and 31 points. It’s likely Dallas will expect a combination of Spencer Dinwiddie, Tim Hardaway Jr. (who is back after a season-ending fracture in January) and Wood off the bench to offset Brunson’s performance, which certainly won’t be easy.


ANNUAL FORECAST

Dallas snuck up on the rest of the league last season as they posted a 52-30 record and finished fourth in the West. Though the Mavs probably haven’t done enough to bring in more help for Doncic this offseason, the superstar is talented enough to lead the roster past the first round once again. Also, he will be ready for this season after falling out of shape in 2021-22. Also, let’s not discount the impact Hall of Famer point guard Kidd will have on Doncic’s development in Year 5. Projection: endgames.


1 IMPORTANT STATISTICS

9.3 — Luka Doncic has led the league in possession in each of the last two seasons and in each of the last three post-seasons. He averaged 9.3 minutes of possession last season and 9.7 minutes in the playoffs.

– Johann Schuhmann


EXPECTEDLY FROM FIVE

Luke Doncic: As good as he has been in the NBA over the past four seasons, Doncic showed in international competitions this summer that the best is yet to come.

Spencer Dinwiddie: Some wrote him off after 44 games with the Wizards, but in the playoffs Dinwiddie caught a glimpse of the player who averaged 20.6 points with Brooklyn in 2019-20.

Reggie Bullock: Teamed up with Finney-Smith in his debut season in Dallas to give the defense some advantage and shoot deep in time after overcoming a slow start.

Dorian Finney Smith: The self-made grinder posted career bests in scoring (11.0 points), 3-point accuracy (39.5%), assists (1.9), and steals (1.1) last season.

JaVale McGee: McGee’s second stint in Dallas is expected to start with him as a full-time starter for the first time since his championship season (2019-20) with the Lakers.


KEY RESERVES

Christian Holz: Should log vital minutes and start some games as Dallas need their shot on target inside and on the perimeter.

Tim Hardaway Jr.: After shooting at least 40.4% from distance in the previous three seasons, that number fell to 39.4% in a season shortened by injuries.

Maxi glue: The multidimensional sniper gives Dallas the flexibility to play small balls without sacrificing much defensively.


LAST 5 SEASONS

How the Mavericks have performed statistically over the past 5 seasons…

season W L PCT OffRtg rank DefRtg rank NetRtg rank endgames
2021-22 52 30 0.634 112.5 14 109.1 7 +3.5 7 X
2020-21 42 30 0.583 114.6 8th 112.3 21 +2.3 10 X
2019-20 43 32 0.573 115.9 1 111.2 18 +4.8 6 X
2018-19 33 49 0.402 108.7 20 110.1 18 -1.5 21
2017-18 24 58 0.293 105.4 24 108.4 16 -2.9 22

OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point difference per 100 possessions

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Michael C. Wright is senior writer for NBA.com. You can email him herefind his archive here and keep following him Twitter.

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