Grading the Dallas Mavericks' offseason can be tricky. For starters, the team successfully upgraded their frontcourt with the acquisition of Christian Wood and the signing of Javale McGee. However, the Mavs lost second-leading scorer Jalen Brunson for nothing.
So how much progress did the Mavericks make? Did losing Brunson decrease Dallas' chances at making another run to the Western Conference finals?
ESPN answered the latter. According to their offseason power rankings, Dallas' inability to resign Luka Doncic's backcourt mate hurt their summer ratings. Out of the 15 teams in the Western Conference, the Mavs received the lowest offseason grade with a "D."
"Watching free agent guard Jalen Brunson sign with the New York Knicks was a tough blow for the Mavericks in the wake of their run to the West Finals," Kelvin Pelton wrote.
The biggest issue was the Mavs' inability to "offer Brunson the largest possible extension last summer."
Other reasons for their poor grading include their aptitude to replace Brunson.
"Already deep in the luxury tax, the Mavericks had limited options to replace Brunson and instead chose to invest their taxpayer midlevel exception in McGee," Pelton added. "Adding McGee gives Dallas a crowd in the frontcourt."
So was ESPN's rating fair?
Not everyone agrees. On the network's "NBA Today" show, analyst Kendrick Perkins shared his thoughts on the rating.
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"They still have a top five player in the NBA in Doncic," Perkins said. "I am not giving them a D because they did not lose Luka."
What about McGee? Should Dallas have looked elsewhere?
“I love the addition of McGee," Perkins said. "I strongly believed the Dallas Mavericks would have been a much better team last year if they had an anchor like a JaVale McGee.”
The Mavs took a step forward with the addition of McGee. In the playoffs, Dallas ranked 15th in rebounding. Last season, the former Sun averaged 6.7 rebounds in 15 minutes. McGee rebounds better than anyone on the Mavs roster not named Luka, who was the team's leading rebounder at 9.8.
"Wood can score and so can McGee," said Kidd. "When you talk about rim protection we're happy to have them on board."
If Dallas hopes to prove the ESPN rating wrong, the Mavs will need to rely on their depth.
"The Mavericks are counting on Spencer Dinwiddie and Tim Hardaway Jr. to fill the ballhandling and shot creating void left by Brunson's departure," Pelton wrote.
Will that be enough to make another deep playoff run? Time will tell.