For the second consecutive season, the Dallas Mavericks crashed out of the NBA playoffs against the LA Clippers in the first round. The 2021-22 NBA season will be an interesting one, as their franchise player, Luka Doncic, will be tasked with leading the team past that point.
The Clippers-Mavericks matchup was particularly intriguing in the 2021 playoffs, as the Mavericks bottled an early 2-0 series lead. Credit to the Clippers for their inspired comeback, but Rick Carlisle's side, especially Kristaps Porzingis, failed to play with the urgency needed in the playoffs.
Porzingis is an elite athlete on any given day. He can be what Dirk Nowitzki did for the Dallas Mavericks. Unfortunately, the big man went cold in the playoffs, shooting an abysmal 29.6% from the three-point range. Porzingis, eventually, did not do enough to back up Doncic's 35.7-point series.
While Doncic can deliver MVP-worthy performances, his efforts alone may not be enough to rally the Dallas Mavericks to consistent victories. The Slovenian stands a good chance of winning the 2022 MVP award and/or the scoring title, but winning the 2022 NBA championship will take a lot more.
Predicting the floor for the Dallas Mavericks
The heavy reliance on Luka Doncic could prove to be the Dallas Mavericks' Achilles heel in the 2021-22 NBA season. The same scenario played out with the LA Lakers last campaign, as they could not efficiently produce in offense without LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Considering the same, the floor for the Maverics could be finishing outside the top six and fighting for a playoff spot via the play-in tournament.
With the Golden State Warriors expected to clinch a top seeding, there is not much room in the top six to accommodate average performances. The LA Lakers, Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets, LA Clippers, Phoenix Suns and Warriors all have superior teams than the Mavericks. The six teams will look to take advantage of the extra day's rest that comes from finishing in the top six.
While the Dallas Mavericks have, who many would describe as the next face of the NBA following King James' retirement, their front office has failed to surround him with the right supporting cast. It's still a one-man show for the South-West-based team.
Meanwhile, it would be criminal not to highlight the acquisition of Reggie Bullock during free agency by the Mavericks. The former New York Knicks small forward could impact the Mavericks at both ends of the court. Although he has struggled in defense in the past, his run as part of Tom Thibodeau's team brought about a different side of him defensively.
In offense, the Dallas Mavericks could not have done a better job bringing in a three-point shooter. The eight-year veteran shot 41% from beyond the arc while attempting 6.1 shots per game last campaign.
With a reliable shooter like Bullock on the perimeter, Doncic will undoubtedly force fewer shots. That's because there will be a degree of confidence in kicking out to the wing man. Given Bullock's accuracy, the Mavericks could boost their three-point shooting rankings, as they finished 18th last season.
Predicting the ceiling for the Dallas Mavericks
If the Dallas Mavericks successfully reach the NBA playoffs, their ceiling for the 2021-22 season could be a Round 2 exit. If we are being completely honest, their roster does not have enough talent that can take them to the conference finals.
Even then, a semi-finals appearance is only possible if they do not face the LA Lakers. Stopping the purple and gold could be near impossible, as the Mavericks do not have the players to match up with the Lakers at both ends of the court.
If Porzingis finds his form and stays healthy, he could build a Jason Kidd-Nowitzki-type partnership. However, Doncic would be a significant contributor on the score sheet and not just create assists.
Nonetheless, the game of basketball can be very unpredictable. While the Dallas Mavericks do not look formidable on paper, they could shake things up out West.
Also Read: What is Luka’s Net Worth in 2021?