The 2019-2020 NBA season just officially ended, with Finals MVP LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers securing the championship against the Miami Heat in six games. But that doesn't mean we can't go ahead and look forward to next season ...
On Monday, ESPN released its 'Way-Too-Early' Power Rankings for the 2021 season, and here's how the top-5 played out:
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Milwaukee Bucks
- Denver Nuggets
- Dallas Mavericks
Luka Doncic's emergence as an MVP candidate gives the Mavericks legitimate hopes of being a championship contender earlier than anticipated, although they need co-star Kristaps Porzingis to stay healthy. All signs indicate that the Mavs won't make a major offseason splash until 2021, when Dallas can create a max slot for a free agent with a little salary-cap tinkering. Expect the Mavs, however, to hunt for some veteran toughness. It's clear that an upgraded defense (ranked 18th this season) is needed to complement Dallas' historically efficient offense. -- Tim MacMahon
Some might say that ranking the Mavs as a top-five team next season is rushing things, but when are we going to stop placing ceilings on what Luka Doncic is capable of? Heading into his sophomore season, Doncic held the eighth best odds to win league MVP, and he topped those odds by finishing fourth in MVP voting and was an All-NBA First Team selection as well.
The Mavs were projected by many to barely make the playoffs, yet the Mavs finished seventh with a 7.5-game cushion over the eighth-seeded Portland Blazers, and just four games back of the third-seeded Denver Nuggets. The Mavs then pushed a star-studded Los Angeles Clippers team to six games in the first round of the playoffs.
"Pride" and Defending Home Court: GAMEDAY vs. Raptors
If Dallas can defend home court, it will be its 10th victory in 11 games.
NBA Trade Talk: Can Mavs Meet Pistons Asking Price For Grant?
Detroit has reportedly made their asking trade price for Jerami Grant known, and the Dallas Mavericks are capable of giving them what they want. Could a deal be made?
NBA Trade Rumors: Mavs Out on Injured Myles Turner?
The Dallas Mavericks have been linked to Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner for a while now, but his recent foot injury could have changed things.
Dallas accomplished all of this despite Doncic battling multiple ankle injuries throughout the season and Porzingis sitting out all back-to-backs, so why not expect the team to make another gigantic leap next season?
Whether the Mavs make a big move this offseason or a series of smaller moves, it's not hard to see the team getting better for next season. If last season's team would've had a few more veteran wing players, we don't think it's a reach to think they could've potentially made it to the Western Conference Finals to face the Lakers.
READ MORE: Lakers Set as Team Mavs Must Chase - Again
In early September, we wrote about how the expectations for Doncic and the Mavs were going to rise going forward, and here, with these 'Way-Too-Early' Power Rankings, you have your first glimpse at what we were talking about.
"My goal at the start of every season is to win a championship," said Doncic in his final postgame press conference of the 2019-2020 season. "There is no other goal ... that is going to be mine."
Doncic's first realistic chance of chasing that lofty goal will begin in approximately four months or so, and we simply can't wait to see what great things he does next. Now back to monitoring the Mavs' offseason with seemingly endless possibilities ...