“Playoffs” has been the buzzword making its rounds in and around the Dallas Mavericks in recent weeks, as a renewed hope and energy has blanketed the organization. There’s no denying it — this proud franchise is hungry to get back to the postseason after a three-year absence.
“Given our youth, and hopefully our depth, I think we have a really good chance (this year), not just to make the playoffs, but to have an impact,” said Mavs' owner Mark Cuban on The Step Back: A Mavs Podcast.
The already-loaded top half of Western conference added even more talent over the offseason. Kawhi Leonard, fresh off of leading the Toronto Raptors to its first NBA title in franchise history, decided to sign with the Los Angles Clippers. Coming off a scrappy playoff season, the Clippers also traded for Paul George and re-signed Patrick Beverley.
The Los Angeles Lakers, despite lacking depth and having injury concerns, landed Anthony Davis in a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans over the summer. The Lakers also signed Danny Green, a player the Mavs greatly coveted in free agency, and a recovering DeMarcus Cousins.
Furthermore, Mavs’ I-45 rivals down in Houston took advantage of OKC’s offseason deterioration by flipping Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook, and an already-solid Utah Jazz squad added Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic.
Although these Western Conference contenders made significant moves to help their title chances, the league’s new-found parity and lack of “super teams” is what makes this upcoming season so exciting for Dallas.
“I think it’s great,” said Cuban in reference to NBA parity. “You had the Warriors with five All-Stars, so that was difficult. And now, given who they’ve lost, things have become a lot more balanced, which means the West is wide open.”
“It’s going to be competitive as hell,” Cuban added, “but the teams at the top at the end of the season are going to be defined as much by who gets hurt, and what (other) crazy things happen. Which players emerge? Which players tail off?”
The fact that the Mavs still have high playoff hopes, while also acknowledging that Kristaps Porzingis might have to spend a decent amount of time knocking off rust at the beginning of the season, tells you that they’re hoping to have some of those ‘emerging players’ that Cuban referenced, whether it be Delon Wright, Justin Jackson, Seth Curry or whomever else.
In a league where the amount team success is largely determined by star-power, the Mavs are putting a lot of faith into what their young star duo of Porzingis and Luka Doncic could blossom intro throughout this season and into the future.
“I never make predictions,” said Cuban. “But we certainly have the talent. We have to stay healthy, that’s the most important thing. ... We haven’t seen the best of (Doncic and Porzingis) together. We haven’t seen the best of our rotations yet.”
Time will tell just how far these young, revamped Mavs can go this year, but regardless of the final results, one thing is for sure — the Dallas Mavericks are finally relevant again.
As Cuban so accurately put it in his own words, “It’s about time we got back into the mix, isn’t it?”