The Dallas Mavericks saw their 2020-2021 basketball season come to an end last week, which leaves the team with more questions than answers as they head to their offseason. The Mavericks look to improve their roster to give it another shot at giving Luka Doncic another crack at it in the playoffs.
The Dallas Mavericks came into this season looking to improve on last season, which saw them being eliminated in the first round by the Los Angeles Clippers in the bubble. The Mavericks got their season going by getting off to a slow start as they opened the season by going 1-3 in their first four games in December. The Mavericks continued their slow start as the season rolled into the month of January, which was not a good month for the Mavericks that resulted in them going 7-9 in the month, giving them an overall record of 8-12. The Mavericks were able to finally have a solid month as February was good them by finishing with a 8-4 record that included a winning streak of 4 games. At the end of the month of February, the Mavericks saw their overall record improve to 16-16. The Mavericks, once again, had another good month as the season rolled into March and the Mavericks finished the month by picking up a season-high 9 wins in the month. However, their overall record improved just a little bit as they were able to gather a 25-21 overall record, which is the first time they finished a month above .500 on the season. April came and it was a good one as it was the best month of the season for the Mavericks which saw them grab a season-high 10 wins to continue to build on their overall record. The Mavericks finished the month of April with a 35-27 overall record. The season rolled into May which was the final month in the regular season and the Mavericks were able to have yet another good month by finishing with a record of 8-3 in the month. The Mavericks ended their season with a overall record of 42-30. The Mavericks went from being in the lottery, early in the season, to finishing with the fifth seed in the western conference standings which set up a first round matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers for the second consecutive season. The Mavericks were able to take a commanding series lead by winning the first two games thus giving them a 2-0 lead in the series. However, the Clippers came storming back as they were able to get the series tied at 2-2 by winning the next two games. The Mavericks would win the next game, which resulted in them taking a 3-2 series lead in the series. The Clippers were able to tie the series once again at 3-3 and forced a crucial Game 7. The Mavericks couldn’t put series away as they saw the Clippers come all the way back to advance to the next round in the playoffs while the Mavericks’ season would come to an end.
Now, with the Mavericks coming up short for the second consecutive season, the question becomes, Where do they go from here? The Mavericks, now have more questions than answers as they, once again, couldn’t advance to the next round in the playoffs in the Luka Doncic era. There were times where the Mavericks looked like they could compete with anybody in the league and times where they looked like a lottery team. The MFFL’S (Mavs Fans For Life) has become deeply frustrated by seeing their team coming up short in the playoffs and rightfully so because the Mavericks haven’t won a single playoff series since they won the championship in 2011. Here are some thoughts on what the Mavericks should do in the offseason
Make a coaching change: Fans have started to become extremely frustrated with head coach Rick Carlisle as he once again couldn’t get the team past the first round in the playoffs. Although, they have every reason to be upset, allow me to remind you that Rick Carlisle is one of the best coaches in the NBA right now and firing him would set the Mavericks 10 steps back. The Mavericks are now in “competitive mode” and they can’t afford to waste Luka Doncic’s “young years” by going with a completely new coach and have him learn the system all over again. Rick Carlisle deserves to be blamed for coming up short again but his recent playoff woes underscores what he has had throughout his tenure as the Mavericks head coach. Carlisle hasn’t had a solid team that is able to get past the first round in the playoffs and you can look up the roster that he has had which is awful and pretty remarkable that he was able to get some production from those players. There ain’t no better coach out there in the NBA right now that is better than Rick Carlisle.
Get rid of Kristaps Porzingis: Although, he had a tough time in the first round against the Los Angeles Clippers, he had a “disappointing” season overall. Fans have been screaming for him to be traded due to his performance in the playoffs and they have every reason to do because Porzingis didn’t live up to his expectations. People seem to forget that Kristaps Porzingis was coming off knee surgery and is coming off a quick offseason with barley any time to recover. The Mavericks were extremely careful with Porzingis as they didn’t want to rush him back and that might have played a role into his rusty season. There were at times, during the regular season, where Porzingis was healthy enough to play but the Mavericks didn’t allowed him to because they were monitoring his minutes. During the season, we saw flashes of Porzingis being his old self again and times where we saw him struggle massively and was hurting the team. The MFFL’S, at one point in the season, thought there was tension between Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis as they decided to make it noticeable by blowing it up way out of proportion. Maybe there was tension between them but it didn’t needed to be blown up the way that it did. A lot of people were expecting Kristaps Porzingis to take the next step this season as many were expecting the Doncic-Porzingis duo to light up the league, but that clearly didn’t happen at all. In the playoffs, Porzingis didn’t show up and that most likely costed them the series win as he couldn’t get his shots to go down. Perhaps the Mavericks could make the change and inform teams that he’s available in a trade. If they do indeed go that route, they better get a superstar caliber player that would flourish with Luka Doncic. The Mavericks cannot afford to screw this up because the time is coming in which Luka Doncic needs to be competing for championships not first round exits. Kristaps Porzingis is very trade-able as many teams around the league would take him in a heartbeat but the Mavericks need to be careful into which direction they decide to go with him. Maybe, the Mavericks keep him for one more season and see if he bounces back. If nothing changes then trade him during the trade deadline, where teams become desperate for a trade. This is one of the bigger questions the Mavericks need to solve in a crucial offseason for the team.
Re-Sign Tim Hardaway Jr: This is another question for the Mavericks to answer, which is what to do with Tim Hardaway Jr? During the regular season, he struggled heavily to the point where he lost his starting role and became a “sixth-man”. Hardaway responded to the move by accepting the role and he flourished by coming off the bench. He would then reclaim his spot in the starting lineup in the playoffs, which he had a spectacular postseason. There were at times during the playoffs where he was the only other player that was giving significant production on offense to help out Luka Doncic. Overall, he made his mark in the playoffs, the games that matters the most, and I think he made the decision fairly easy for the Mavericks to re-sign him. He was a true professional in handling his demotion but when the time came to get promoted again, he delivered by playing well on the court. He loves the city of Dallas and has helped the Mavericks so much for them by picking up the slack when the team wasn’t playing well. The Mavericks better choose wisely in what to do with him because there are teams that would show him the money and would make him a huge part of their offense. If the Mavericks decide to move on from him, they better replace him with a significant shooter that helps take off the pressure from Luka Doncic’s work load.
Hire a new GM: In one of the most important offseason in the Luka Doncic era, many MFFL’S are pointing to general manager, Donnie Nelson for the lack of talent on the roster. Rightfully so because he is in charge of making moves and changing up the roster in order to put the Mavericks in the best situation to succeed. In the past 10 years, he has yet to sign a “big fish” in free agency, although you could make the case for DeAndre Jordan as a “big fish”, he basically just came to Dallas to make up for what he did to them. The Mavericks have rarely been active in free agency and they absolutely need to do it in this offseason because clearly the roster needs a massive overhaul to get Luka Doncic some much needed help. Donnie Nelson deserves to be called out because the MFFL’S are simply tired of signing “average role players” to just barely get through the season above water. His time is clicking and if he doesn’t get Luka Doncic some help then it’s best for the Mavericks to part ways from him. There are plenty of rookie GM’s that have done more in their short time as GM than what Donnie Nelson has in the last 10 years. Many MFFL’S are saying that Donnie Nelson is past his time and his lack of knowledge in the “young” NBA just isn’t enough to do it. Donnie Nelson better make major adjustments to the Mavericks roster this offseason if they want to take the next step.
Luka Doncic role: Although, he had a spectacular season that saw him finish sixth in the MVP voting in just his third year in the NBA, many are pointing out that Luka Doncic is too heavily involved in the Mavericks offense. We have seen numerous times where Luka needed to score JUST 30 points (or more) just to give the Mavericks a chance at winning the game, while there’s nothing wrong with scoring 30 points, he clearly can’t carry the team ALL on his back and needs some massive help. There were times where we saw him pass up wide open layups to pass the ball to a teammate in the corner for a three pointer that resulted in a miss, while that’s a good thing, in some ways, that costed the Mavericks some points that they would’ve needed in the late stages of the game. In that situation, just take the easy two points and lay it in the hoop instead of trying to give it to somebody else. Luka needs to know when and when not to be “too pass friendly” and just take the points the defense gives him. If the Mavericks were to give Luka some help, we would see a much “cleaner” version of Luka’s game because it would take a significant load off his back. Another thing that Luka needs to work on is his free-throws. How many times during the game did we see Luka miss free-throws? Probably way too much and it has happened in many games where the Mavericks could’ve used those free-throws to close out teams in the game. They’re called “free-throws” for a reason, because they are “FREE POINTS” and Luka drastically needs to improve on his free-throws so opposing teams don’t try to “Hack-a-Luka” next season. He is begging for the Mavericks to “Please give me some help” in hopes that the Mavericks do actually listen this time. Luka is a up and coming star in the league and could become the face of the NBA once LeBron James retires but the Mavericks need to figure out a way to balance his production on the court.
As you can see, the Mavericks need to solve a lot of things surrounding their team this offseason and wether they will actually do it remains to be seen. The Mavericks cannot afford to waste this crucial offseason and go another season without giving Luka Doncic some help. Whether you agree with the topics or not, the Mavericks do need to do something drastic or continue to be the “One and done boys”.