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‘One Player Away': NBA Executive Reveals What Mavs Need Most

After being eliminated from the playoffs, the Dallas Mavericks must improve around Luka Doncic.

The Dallas Mavericks came up short in their goal of reaching and winning the NBA Finals. After losing the series 4-1 to the Golden State Warriors, their focus shifts to improving the roster around Luka Doncic.

There was a variety of factors that contributed to the Warriors defeating the Mavericks handily in the series. A combination of some poor shooting nights coupled with limitations protecting the paint and on the boards added up during most losses.

Andrew Wiggins, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Luka Doncic
Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors
Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors

One Eastern Conference executive told ESPN the Mavericks are “one player away” from being a championship team with their need being to add an “impact center.”

For as great of a locker room presence and hustle player as Dwight Powell has been for the Mavericks, there are limitations to the contributions he can provide to a team. A more dynamic option could add needed dimensions to their team.

There's another element to the Mavericks' limitations at center that must be taken into consideration. After getting through Rudy Gobert and Deandre Ayton just fine, is it really a surface-level talent deficit at one spot?

The Warriors' base strategy when Doncic ran a traditional high ball screen was to have Kevon Looney switch — preventing the use of a traditional rim roll. 

Golden State also found success overloading the strong side in man-to-man and deploying junk schemes like 1-2-2 zone and box-and-one. The Mavericks received no shortage of clean looks from deep but didn't execute consistently enough. 

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Unless the Mavericks acquire a center that can space the floor or repeatedly attack mismatches near the basket after switching occurs, there isn't too much of a playoff benefit offensively. 

When the Mavericks' defense gave up too many favorable finishes around the basket and offensive rebounds, much of it had to do with the unit being out of rotation after loading up on Stephen Curry. More speed is needed, not less. 

Partly why the Warriors are such a unique threat is their ability to counter various styles of lineups. Say the Mavericks did have a more talented center option, Golden State could slide Green over to the five and attack more using dribble handoffs, off-ball screening actions, and pushing the pace.

Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors, Dallas Mavericks
Steph Curry Luka Doncic
Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors, Golden State Warriors

The Warriors' most effective defensive approach consisted of overloading the strong side on Doncic and deploying Green as the primary defender on Jalen Brunson. There wasn't a creator left in the unit to attack weaker points of their unit. 

Having a wing that can put the ball on the floor to consistently make a positive play would have enabled the Mavericks to have another way of attacking the Warriors' defense. The right option would also give Dallas more defensive versatility. 

A more talented center would undoubtedly help the Mavericks against more traditional matchups, particularly in the regular season. There's value in having a higher floor as a team, but winning a championship is the goal. 

Ultimately, if the Mavericks seek to improve at the center position, there's a benefit to it. It just doesn't appear to be the 'missing piece' to winning a title. There still needs to be a third threat with size on the wing that can attack against versatile defenses. 

There are other matters for the Mavericks to tend to beyond just the center position this offseason. Jalen Brunson will be a free agent and retaining him will be a priority. Can the Mavericks accomplish adding a center and upgrading on the wing in addition? If so, they could have what they need to reach the NBA Finals.