After years of fighting, scrapping, and clawing, the Dallas Mavericks were finally able to breakthrough in 2011 to win their first NBA Championship. But the Mavericks title celebration was short lived due to the fact that their championship team would not remain in tact as the result of the NBA Lockout. Four out of the next five years would see Dallas make the playoffs, but they have not been able to advance past the first round since they won it all. The last two seasons saw the Mavericks post losing records which included losing 58 games last year for their worst mark in 20 years. Through 57 games this year the Mavericks are 26-31 as they will be fighting an uphill battle in regards to making the playoffs, but things are rapidly coming together in regards to this franchise once again becoming a force in the NBA.
Last June at the NBA Draft, the Mavs would select point guard Trae Young, but immediately trade him to the Atlanta Hawks for the draft rights to shooting guard Luka Doncic. Upon coming to Dallas, the 6’7″ Doncic immediately began to invoke memories of current Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki. Nowitzki is a native of Germany and after being acquired by Dallas in a draft day trade with the Milwaukee Bucks in 1998, he has gone on to become the best player in Mavericks franchise history. Like Nowitzki, Doncic is from Europe as he is a native of Slovenia, and at 6’7″, his silky smooth game has given the basketball fans in Dallas plenty to rejoice about.
Through 55 games played this season, Doncic is in the mix to be the NBA’s Rookie of the Year as he is leading the Mavericks in scoring at 20.7 points per game. Doncic also has three triple-doubles to hit credit this season as he is showing that he is more than a scorer, but that he can get his teammates involved as well. And things just got very interesting for the Mavericks after they were able to make a splash shortly before the NBA’s Trade Deadline.
The New York Knicks were looking to unload a disgruntled power forward in Kristaps Porzingis who was not a fan of the direction that the franchise is going in. This resulting in the Knicks finding themselves a trade partner in the Mavs who were more than happy to take him off of their hands. Dallas leapt at the opportunity as they sent a pair of first-round draft picks, shooting guard Wesley Matthews, and center DeAndre Jordan to New York for Porzingis who is in the midst of recovering from a torn ACL that he suffered last season, but they are aware of the potential that he has.
Like Doncic, Porzingis is from Europe as he is from Latvia, and after being doubted by the basketball fans of New York City when the Knicks selected him fourth overall in the 2015, he showed that he can deliver the goods. In parts of three seasons with the Knicks, Porzingis averaged 17.8 points per game and 7.1 rebounds which included being selected to the NBA’s All-Star Game last season. At 7’3″, Porzingis is a matchup nightmare for his opponents due to his ability to score in the post as well as on the perimeter. Like Doncic, Porzingis is also a passer, while his 7’6″ wingspan makes him on defense as he has averaged 2 blocks per game for his brief NBA career. The Mavericks are going to be patient in regards to Porzingis in regards to his rehab and rightfully so as they have so much invested in him. And although that Porzingis can become a free agent this summer, all signs point to him remaining in Dallas as his presence as well as that of Doncic will make Dallas an attractive place for NBA free agents to come to in the coming years which is a far cry from how things have been recently.
For a franchise that has struggled to put it altogether recently (but not without a lack of effort), this is a huge shot in the arm for the Mavericks as they look to compete in the Western Conference. The Mavs only have roughly $55 million committed to player salaries for next season which will allow them to be active in free agency, and it also helps their ability to improve the roster since Doncic will be on his rookie contract for the next few years. So parting with draft picks was easy for the Mavericks to do as the key pieces are now in place, and although that the odds will be against them in regards to making the playoffs this year, good things are definitely on the horizon for this squad.