Season Preview: Dallas Mavericks Look to Take Next Step

Luka Doncic

Getty Luka Doncic drives past Kawhi Leonard of the LA Clippers.

The Dallas Mavericks are entering the 2021-22 NBA season with a new look. Will the adjustments they made in the offseason be enough for them to take that next step and make a deep playoff push?

The Mavericks have made quite a few changes this offseason, starting with their front office. They’ve got a new GM in Nico Harrison, who ultimately ended up hiring Jason Kidd as the team’s new head coach.

From there, they made several offseason moves, acquiring a handful of players who elevate the ceiling of the team.

Dallas will start their season with a two-game road trip, as they take on the Atlanta Hawks and Toronto Raptors.

What can be expected of the Mavericks and how can they get through the obstacles that have held them back the past two seasons?

Recent Roadblocks

In the past two seasons, the Mavericks have been bounced out of the playoffs in the first round. Both times, they played the LA Clippers and had a great chance to win the series, but ultimately fell short.

Both times, different issues proved too difficult to overcome. For starters, injuries stood in the way of the Mavericks. This season, it will be key for guys like Kristaps Porzingis to stay healthy all season and especially into the playoffs.

What’s been the biggest hurdle for Dallas the past two seasons has been their defense. The Mavericks allowed their opponents to knock down 12.8 3-pointers per game and had the ninth-worst defensive rating (112.3) in the NBA during the regular season. 

That combination resulted in their efficient offense not being enough to pull off key wins down the stretch. If they’re going to take the next step this season, they’ll need to be better defensively.

Dallas has a real chance to improve on that end of the floor this season with some of the new faces in the locker room.

What to Expect

The Mavericks added several key players in the offseason through trade and free agency, but who was the most important?

In terms of major acquisitions, Sterling Brown, Frank Ntilikina, Reggie Bullock and Moses Brown are at the top of the list. 

Bullock to this point appears to be the most impactful, with his ability to play on both ends of the floor. Last season with the New York Knicks, he was a starter and averaged 10.9 points per game while shooting 41.0% from deep. At 6-foot-6, he also has the versatility to guard multiple positions on defense.

If the Mavericks are going to be successful this season, it does all start on the defensive end of the floor, which Bullock being the catalyst for that.

Additionally, their star duo will have to continue to improve heading into the 2021-22 season.

Luka Doncic is an MVP frontrunner and should naturally be one of the best players in the entire league. Kristaps Porzingis has the chance for a bounceback season, as he looks to get back to the player he once was under the guidance of Kidd.

The most underrated player on the roster is Tim Hardaway Jr., who has the potential to be the team’s second-best player on any given night. A walking bucket, he can score from all levels on the court to give Dallas an offensive boost.

Tim Hardaway Jr.

GettyTim Hardaway Jr. high-fives Luka Doncic in a playoff game against the LA Clippers

There will be plenty of highs and lows for the Mavericks this season, but a quick start to the season will be key. With quite a few teams in the Western Conference weak due to injury, they could take advantage and claim a spot near the top of the standings.

Dallas kicks off their regular season on Thursday against Trae Young and the Hawks.

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