Now that free agency has come to a relative end, NBA teams are prepping for training camp and putting the final touches on their coaching staffs. NBA training camp is a pivotal piece of the offseason for many teams, especially those who have overhauled their rosters and brought in new pieces to fit their organization. Training camp allows for the formation of chemistry, which leads to the formation of rosters. For the Mavericks, this training camp is as important as ever. While Dallas didn’t bring in any “big name” free agents, they did add some intriguing pieces around Luka. The key is to see who fits the best and how to construct the best possible starting lineup.
Last year, the Mavericks used numerous starting lineups as they battled through a rough start to the season due to COVID protocols and injuries. By the time the playoffs came around, the Mavericks essentially had their same starting 5 as they did the previous year. Consistency in the NBA is a huge factor, and Dallas sorely lacked any type of consistent lineup last season. The hope is that with the new editions to the roster, the Mavericks will have a consistent starting 5 that compliments their superstar while also providing a much needed boost defensively. Here’s the best possible starting lineup for the Mavericks as I see it:
PG: Luka Doncic
There’s not much to say here. I fully expect Doncic to have a MVP caliber season and finish in the top 3 of voting, if not number 1. He probably should’ve been in the conversation last year but Mavericks record after the first 2 months of the season took him out of the running pretty early. If the Mavericks can keep their head above water this year and stay in the playoff chase all season, there’s no doubt that Doncic will be an MVP candidate.
SG: Tim Hardaway, Jr.
The biggest question mark going into the offseason, Tim Hardaway, Jr. returned to the Mavericks on a team friendly deal. Word had gotten out that he wanted to stay in Dallas, but money is always a factor when it comes to NBA players and where they sign. Even with bigger offers on the table. THJ took a discount to stay with the Mavericks (and on a relatively team friendly deal, too). His first year in Dallas was a struggle as he only shot 32% from the 3 point arc, but there was a concerted effort to change his game to fit along side Luka, and it showed in a nearly 8% improvement the last two years to nearly 40% from deep. Hardaway Jr. fits as a fantastic spot up shooter and can also penetrate and pull up from mid range. The streakiness will always be there, but last year he showed much more consistency and should be able to continue in a role that seems perfectly suited for him.
SF: Reggie Bullock
The Mavericks made somewhat of a surprise signing, nabbing Reggie Bullock away from the New York Knicks on a nice little 3 year, $30.5 million deal. Bullock, while not a superstar by any means, is a reasonably good defender and shooter. He brings that 3-and-D mold that Dallas has been searching for, but with a little more intensity. Bullock is a career 40% shooter from deep, and his catch and shoot stats are even more impressive than that. According to NBA.com, Bullock shot 42.5% on catch and shoot three’s last season for a Knicks team whose leading passer was their PF. Imagine what he’ll be able to do with one of the best PG’s in the league. I expect Bullock to average roughly 10-13ppg, with a few 20 point games sprinkled in across the season.
PF: Dorian Finney-Smith
Fan favorite Dorian Finney-Smith should get most of the playing time at power forward, moving to small forward when some of the other big men on this team come in for their rotation minutes. DFS should spend most of his time guarding the opponents best player as well. He has steadily improved every season in the NBA since signing as an undrafted free agent out of Florida. Last year, Finney-Smith had career highs in almost every statistic imaginable, including points per game, field goal percentage and three point percentage. The work he has put in to improve is evident with each passing game. The chemistry and defensive mindset he brings to this team is irreplaceable, and he should have another career year playing along side another good on ball defender in Reggie Bullock.
C: Kristaps Porzingis
Porzingis is the most polarizing figure on this team. Type in his name into Google or Twitter and you’ll see endless opinions on what the Mavericks should do with the big man: trade him for pennies on the dollar, trade him for a 2nd round pick, trade him for another bad contract, or keep him and hope for the best. I, for one, have been in the camp of keeping Porzingis all along. People forget that before his knee injury, Porzingis was one of the best players in the NBA and had an extremely bright future ahead of him. After Porzingis’ knee injury, he sat out a year and got his first taste of basketball with the Mavericks during the bubble year in the NBA. The season that year came to an abrupt halt when the coronavirus hit and returned in Orlando for the teams on the brink of the postseason. Everyone remembers Phoenix’s incredible run in the bubble, but Porzingis was arguably one of the best players during that stretch as well. In 6 games, KP averaged 30.5 ppg and 9.5 rpg all while shooting 47.6% from the field and 38% from three. Porzingis’ biggest flaw has been his injuries, which cut short his bubble season as well. The NBA season returned last year after the shortest offseason in history, not allowing players to correctly rehab or recover from injuries sustained in the 2019-2020 season. This is the first full offseason that Porzingis will have without having to worry about recovering from an injury. He is solely focused on improving his game and becoming the best version of himself. Jason Kidd has helped advance the careers of two incredible big men in the NBA, and I have no doubt he won’t utilize KP as a decoy spot up shooter in the playoffs. Whether improvement leads to KP being traded or sticking with the team long term will be determined later, but I fully expect a significant improvement in his play this year. Porzingis may never get back to the dominating force he was in New York, but if he can be what he was in the bubble, this team has a chance to surprise a lot of people this year.
Categories: Mavs Fans For Life