A massive leap forward in regular and post season performance has the Dallas faithful hoping for another deep playoff run. Whether or not they can pull it off depends largely upon their ability to address the backcourt gap left in the wake of Jalen Brunson’s offseason departure. If Spencer Dinwiddie and the rest of the starters can’t backfill the offensive responsibilities shouldered by Brunson, we could see even more usage for Luka Doncic, who sits at the helm of perhaps the most top-heavy offensive lineup in the NBA (1- Luka………………………. 2- Spencer Dinwiddie/Christian Wood?). Needless to say, standby for another plodding campaign from last year’s slowest team.
Meanwhile, we’ll likely see some competition for the starting center spot if Doncic needs more help on offense. Christian Wood joins the squad having acquired a reputation as a capable scorer, and his offensive spark might be difficult for Jason Kidd to ignore if Luka turns into a one-man band. I’m here to talk fantasy though, and the roster upheaval of the last seven months is sure to elevate some Mavs from where they were last season. Let’s take a look!
- Depth Chart
|JaVale McGee||Dorian Finney-Smith||Reggie Bullock||Spencer Dinwiddie||Luka Doncic|
|Maxi Kleber||Christian Wood (PF/C)||Josh Green||Tim Hardaway Jr.||Frank Ntilikina|
|Dwight Powell||Davis Bertans||Jaden Hardy|
- 2021-22 Record: 52-30
- Key Arrivals: Christian Wood, JaVale McGee
- Key Departures: Jalen Brunson
- Low-Volume Game Days: 13
- Back to Back Sets: 13
- 2021-22 Pace Ranking: 30
- Luka Doncic: When I did the Mavericks preview last season, I was critical of taking Luka in the top ten of category league drafts, but my perspective changed when Kristaps Porzingis was shipped to Washington. The Unicorn played his last game for the Mavericks on January 29th. From that point, Doncic averaged 32 points on 47% shooting, 3.9 threes, 9.5 rebounds, 8.6 assists, and 1.1 steals, and 0.6 blocks(!) across 30 contests. You’ll have to absorb his below-average free throw shooting and/or disregard turnovers, but consider this my endorsement of Luka as an early first-round pick for category leaguers.
- Spencer Dinwiddie: Transitioning from the fantasy impact of Luka to the rest of the Mavs feels like…
It’s almost as precipitous as the decline in value of the Bitcoin Spencer is HODLing. With the departure of Porzingis and Brunson, the Mavs will need someone who can create their own shot and take the heat off Luka. Dinwiddie’s scoring, passing, and three-point shooting abilities make him the secondary playmaker by default, and I expect a bounce back year.
- Dorian Finney-Smith: Keep in mind that historically, most of DFS’s value comes from not turning the ball over. This is relatively easy to do when the usage rate is 14%. On a more optimistic note, DFS significantly increased his scoring and three-point averages (+1.4 and +0.5 respectively) in his 31 post-Porzingis performances. If he can maintain those marks and keep his steals above one per game, he’ll be a solid fantasy contributor.
- Christian Wood: After roughly 2.5 seasons of putting up good numbers on bad teams, Wood lands in a winning situation with lots of questions looming over his role. He’s not slated to start, which stands in contrast to the automatic starting bids he received in Houston. What happens to his production if his minutes decrease from 31 to 26-28 MPG? He may not average a double-double at that point and his blocks might dip below the one per game we saw in 2021-22. I can only speculate at this point, but I don’t have him down as a top-70 pick this year in 12-team leagues. What I am fairly certain of is that he will continue to deflate your free-throw percentage, so make sure you punt or structure your team to absorb the impact.
- JaVale McGee: In the four games McGee filled in for Deandre Ayton and played more than 25 MPG last season, he averaged 14.8 points, 12 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks. With this in mind, fantasy managers are hopeful for a return to the 2018-19 version of McGee, when he averaged 12 points on 62% shooting, 7.6 rebounds, and 2 blocks in only 22 MPG. That playing time is entirely feasible for JaVale this year. The two risks to his production are the possibility of being replaced as a starter and Father Time.
- Tim Hardaway Jr.: Last season’s injuries and poor shooting have sent Hardaway Jr. tumbling down fantasy draft boards. With a clean bill of health and the 29-31 MPG he’s received since joining the Mavs, I’m hopeful that he can return to the solid points and elite three-point shooting that we saw in 2020-21. Hope is not a plan, however, so be ready to bail on him if he can’t climb back to 45% from the putrid 39% he posted in 2021-22.
- Reggie Bullock: Speaking of wings whose shooting spiraled downwards last season… Reggie dropped to 40% last season from 44% in 2020-21. He ended the season in a much better place than he started, but so much of his value is tied up in three-point shooting (2.6/game in his 21 most recent appearances) that it’s difficult to recommend drafting him for 12-team leagues. He’s a guy to keep an eye on if you need a three-point streamer to win your category league matchup.
- Maxi Kleber: Ze German can sometimes be a sneaky source of three-pointers (1.4/game in 2021-22) for a big man whose main contribution is blocks (1/game in 2021-22). His upside is again limited with McGee tabbed for the starting spot, and his minutes will likely dip from the 25 he averaged last season if Wood ends up earning starting center duties.
- Josh Green: The words I most see associated with Green include ‘project’ and ‘developing,’ so we have to manage expectations accordingly. His statistical profile suggests that he could contribute in rebounds and steals, but the latter category is fickle and it’s difficult to gauge whether or not he’ll get the minutes to grab enough boards to help in fantasy. Mavs management is expecting more from him in the wake of recent roster shakeups, but he’s just a watch candidate until he establishes himself in the rotation.
Starting 20 October, check out my Midweek Guidance post every Thursday where I’ll rundown my top streaming candidates. In the meantime, good luck in your draft(s)!
As always, hit me up in the comments with any feedback or questions!