2019-2020 Record: 43-32
The Dallas Mavericks were a historically great offense last season, posting the greatest offensive rating ever recorded at 115.9. Most of that due to Luka Doncic‘s improvement to MVP levels. Luka put up 28/9/8 in his second season in the pros and the Mavericks put the ball in his hands as much as possible to facilitate their offense. This offseason the Mavericks needed to improve on defense, and they did.
Trading Seth Curry for Josh Richardson helps the Mavericks on both ends of the court. Richardson will be able to relieve Dorian Finney-Smith of having to guard elite PG’s and SG’s at a high level. On the offensive end, Richardson had a down year shooting from deep last season shooting 34% on 3.4 attempts a game. In the two years prior with the Heat, he shot around 38% on 4 attempts a game. I think his shot should improve with this Mavericks team because he will get more open looks than he had last year in Philly, Doncic will take a lot of pressure off of Richardson as the primary ballhandler.
The Mavericks are a safe bet to make the playoffs this season. The roster improvements they made to the roster that already made the playoffs show flashes of potentially reaching the elite ‘Lakers’ level of play if healthy.
Kristaps Porzingis‘ torn meniscus capped the team’s potential in the Bubble. He is projected for a January return to action, but I could see him sitting out until February. The current roster without him is good enough to make the playoffs and the Mavericks are going to want him 100% healthy and ready to go before putting him out on the floor this season. When he does return Porzingis is an elite fantasy option providing rim protection, good percentages, and three-pointers.
The starting backcourt will be Luka and Josh Richardson. Richardson pairs perfectly with Luka and will defend opposing PG’s on most nights. On the wing should be Tim Hardaway Jr., who has made the most of the Luka experience shooting a career high 39% last season from 3 on over 7 attempts a game. Luka creates wide-open looks for his teammates and Hardaway and Luka’s chemistry was impressive last season. At the 4, look for Dorian Finney-Smith, who also improved his shot to 37% (up from 31%) on over 4 attempts a game. Kristaps will start at center when he returns but, in the meantime, Dwight Powell should take the starting role. Maxi Kleber is the better player at both ends but Powell’s high flying game fits nicely as Luka’s favorite lob threat.
Off the bench, the Mavericks are hoping Jalen Brunson and Trey Burke can fit together as the second-unit backcourt. Look for rookie Tyrell Terry to earn himself a role as the season progresses. Terry is the best shooter on this team and the rookie out of Stanford has one of the fastest releases in the league. He could fit well down the line with Brunson and Luka after he gets experience. Rookie Josh Green looks to have earned backup small forward minutes for the team with an impressive pre-season thus far. The backup bigs should be a revolving door of James Johnson, Maxi Kleber, and Willie Caulie-Stein.