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Mavericks Preseason Takeaways

Generally speaking, the NBA preseason is simply a formality. Unlike the NFL preseason, most NBA teams are well aware of what their final rosters will look like and who will make the team as a two way player. With respect to the Mavericks, however, this preseason gave fans their first opportunity to see new coach Jason Kidd’s system in motion with the new starting lineup of Luka Dončić, Tim Hardaway, Jr., Dorian Finney-Smith, Kristaps Porzingis and Dwight Powell. Here are three key takeaways from the first three preseason games:

Dwight Powell’s Return

Dwight Powell has been quite the enigma in his few years for the Dallas Mavericks. Always a fan favorite, Powell suffered a terrible Achilles tear in January of 2020 and truly didn’t look like himself until late in last year’s season. In Jason Kidd’s system, Powell will need to be a key pick and roll partner for Luka Dončić and he showed flashes of his improvement in that area in the preseason. More so, however, Powell has shown a new offensive game that Mavericks fans have been clamoring for for years. Against the Clippers in the 2nd preseason game, Powell put up 14 points and 5 rebounds in 16 minutes, along with hitting a wide open 3 pointer in the first quarter. If Powell can continue to improve his 3 point shooting while remaining a dangerous lob threat for Dončić, he may be exactly the center the Mavericks have been searching for.

Same Old Luka

Even with having an off game against the Hornets in the Mavericks’ third preseason game, Luka led the Mavs in minutes, points, rebounds and assists in the preseason. Not much else to say here other than expect more of the same throughout the regular season. The Mavericks will need help from other players (more on that later), but this team will go as far as Luka takes them.

A New Unicorn?

Much has been made in the offseason of the role of Kristaps Porzingis on this team. This has been talked about ad nauseam and he clearly is still part of this roster, so the only thing to do is to hope to see the improvement that he and the coaching staff have claimed he has made. If Porzingis plays in the regular season the way he played in the pre-season, the Mavericks should be elated. Porzingis seems to have a new bounce to him as he played, averaging 13 points and 6 rebounds per game in just 19 minutes (also while shooting an obscene 58.3% from inside the arc). Jason Kidd’s coaching scheme seems to have Porzingis moving around without the ball much more, allowing him to take advantage of certain mismatches on the court as teams try to switch onto other players. It’s only the preseason, but Kidd has clearly taken advantage of Porzingis’ height and skill set as a post up shooter, calling many plays for him to receive the ball on the low block. If this trend can continue into the regular season and we see a version of Porzingis that we saw pre-knee injury, the Mavericks might have themselves the second start they envisioned having when trading for him a few years ago.

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