Thread: Expectations
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Old 02-23-2020, 09:54 PM   #3
LukaMagic
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Before the season, no outside observers (i.e. objective folk) expected Mavs to make the playoffs. Luka's splendid improvement trajectory has obliterated those expectations and has led many people to see Mavs making some serious noise - i.e. competing with the best in the West. And the best in the west, by the looks of it, are perhaps two of the best composed teams ever (though on paper and on a short notice), each with a solid claim of having two genuine top-five players in the league. That Mavs were seen as being in that conversation is in and of itself i n s a n e p r o g r e s s.

However, since then, things have subsided a bit mostly due to injury absences by Luka and KP, and even some unfortunate refereeing decisions in more than a few close games.

Aaaand, most importantly, the heightened expectatations have exposed the true weaknesses of this team when it comes to fighting at the very top. There are two.

The first one is the lack of alternative/secondary playmaking options (apart from Luka) to help out especially in high-pressure situations. What I mean here is this: take the ball and consistently create for yourself or someone else - put yourself or another in a high-percentage situation without risking a turnover. Brunson has shown himself to be very one-dimensional in that regard (a 2-guard basically) and Delon is too young, inexperienced and immature on the offensive end (even though he is all-opposite and simply tremendous on the defensive end - his long-term potential is huge). JJ Barea can play only very few minutes and seems to be carrying a bit of extra weight. After that, the things fall to THJ who is not really a creator and cannot be expected to do more than hero-ball in closing minutes of games. If Mavs do not bring in a very experienced, veteran secondary playmaker (I think the only option would be from Europe at this point) before the playoffs, it is a clear sign they are simply not expecting to win more than a round or two (at best) in the playoffs this year. So, getting to the playoffs and hoping to win the first round is a realistic goal as things stand right now.

The second one is defensive frailty when facing top-level teams. The loss of DP has hurt the Mavs rather tremendously because he has excellent mobility and can discharge defensive duties required by a 5 in RC's defensive system. Aaaand, he was one of the very top team performers on multiple levels. DP knows the system in and out. The coaching staff believe WCS can do that as well which will be required as no matter how excellent KP and Kleber are defensively, they cannot carry the load especially against teams that are physical in the paint.
You also have to think about protecting KP against foul trouble when facing top-level, physical teams so that him playing at 5 is not sustainable as a general rule in most/all games. If KP grows into a regular, huge scoring threat (25+ points per game), it will start to make less and less sense to throw him as 5 at players who use bodies to create contact/space as needed, extract fouls, especially in important playoff games.
WCS still needs a bit time to learn the system, but there is still plenty of months before playoffs. MKG was also brought in to help on the defensive end (even at 5) but primarily as another excellent defending body (in addition to Kleber and DFS) that can be thrown at Lebron, Kawhi, George and the likes. MKG is basically the best the market offered at this point in time. A very smart buy given Mavs' circumstances, along with WCS.

So the expectations for this year are the first or the second round (at best) in the playoffs. The longer the team lasts, the better. This is a christening year. The more the team endures, the longer they last, the better they'll be next year.

When it comes to the year after, the critical issue (barring injuries and unexpected stuff) is KP's progress. If KP settles into an all-star form that he's been exhibiting over the last 7 games or so, or even if he improves further as there is definitely room for that, this Dallas Mavericks team will be a legitimate title contender. With an addition of one more veteran playmaker to help Luka out with creation-making in critical spots, and perhaps one more solid 3-and-D guy (in addition/depending on DP's comeback and WCS eventual settlement into the system) the sky is the limit for this team.

EDIT: but, then again, Luka's got magic and with that anything is possible even this year lol

Last edited by LukaMagic; 02-23-2020 at 10:15 PM.
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