The Dallas Mavericks off-season was an instrumental one, for many reasons. For starters, the Mavs returned to the playoffs last year for the first time since 2016. And there was plenty to be excited about:
- The 2019 Rookie of the Year, Luka Dončić, emerged as an MVP candidate – averaging 28.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 8.6 assists per game. While he ultimately didn’t win the MVP award, he did become a first-time NBA All-Star, while also receiving All-NBA First Team honors
- It was the first full season for Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. in Dallas after both players were traded from the New York Knicks. Porzingis averaged 20.4 points and 9.5 rebounds per game, playing Robin to Dončić’s Batman. Hardaway Jr. averaged 15.8 points per game and nearly shot 40 percent from three.
- Dallas’ offense was excellent throughout the season, having recorded the highest offensive rating in NBA history with a 116.7 rating.
The Mavericks finished the season with a 43-32 record, earning the seventh-seed in the Western Conference playoffs. In the playoffs, they would lose in six games to the Los Angeles Clippers in a highly competitive quarter-finals series between both teams. Luka Dončić was phenomenal against the Clippers, as he averaged 31 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 9.2 assists per game.
Dončić single-handedly proved in that series that he was a franchise cornerstone worth building around. To ensure Dončić’s success, the Mavericks made a few off-season moves that would not only help Dončić but also help improve the team’s 16th-ranked defense. Although key role players such as Delon Wright and Seth Curry were lost, the Mavericks looked to get better and put themselves in contention for the title.
Josh Green: This Australian shooting guard was drafted by the Mavericks 18th overall in the 2020 NBA Draft. At 6’6″ with a 6’10” wingspan, Josh Green has plenty of potential as a wing player. At Arizona, he averaged 12 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.6 assists in his lone season at Arizona. Green’s forte is his defense, as he led the Wildcats in steals. His three-ball is pretty good as well, shooting 36 percent despite shoddy shooting mechanics. While Green’s offense may be a cause of concern, his defense is tantalizing enough on its own.
Tyrell Terry: Tyrell Terry was drafted by the Mavericks as the first pick of the second round of the 2020 draft. He is a cerebral point guard, being one of the smartest players coming out of the draft. At Stanford, Terry averaged 14.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game. Perhaps his biggest strength is three-point shooting, as he shot 40 percent from the arc. This makes him a potential off-ball shooting threat, especially on a Mavericks team with bench players of a similar caliber. Terry might be undersized for the NBA, but he can certainly make up for that with his offensive potential.
Josh Richardson: Josh Richardson was acquired by the Mavericks in the Philadelphia 76ers‘ trade for Seth Curry. At 6’6″ and 200 pounds, Richardson offers plenty of versatility at both the shooting guard and small forward positions. He is a plus defender on the court and has a respectable three-ball with a career .363 percentage.
Richardson had a bit of a down year in his only season with the 76ers, averaging 13.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game. But there’s no denying that he can provide more than enough shooting for the Mavericks. While Seth Curry’s excellent shooting helped the Mavericks own the best offensive rating in league history, he was pretty underwhelming in terms of defense. Richardson can provide shooting and defense, which the Mavericks surely need.
James Johnson: James Johnson was traded to the Mavericks in a three-way trade involving the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Detroit Pistons. It’s pretty safe to say that he won’t be a very impactful player for the Mavericks, on the court. But what Johnson makes up in impact, he provides in veteran leadership and toughness. Johnson is one of the rougher players in the NBA, having a reputation for playing with a gritty style. Playing with such ferocity could benefit the Mavs in the playoffs, especially if they make a deep playoff run.
Last season, James Johnson played for the Miami Heat and Minnesota Timberwolves – splitting minutes at both the power forward and center positions. He averaged 5.7 points per game before being traded to the Timberwolves, where he averaged 12 points per game. Johnson might not average such numbers with reduced minutes on the Mavericks, but as stated before, he’s mostly there to provide leadership.
Wes Iwundu: Wes Iwundu was the only free agent signed by the Mavericks in the off-season. He formerly played for the Orlando Magic and plays at the small forward position. His biggest selling point is his defense, as his athleticism and flexibility make him a capable defender on the wing. His offensive game may leave a lot to be desired, but Iwundu is still steadily improving on that end.
Overall, the Mavericks had to sacrifice some key pieces in order to improve as a team – most especially their defense. So far, the defense has improved, as the Mavericks currently top five in points allowed and defensive efficiency. However, their offense appears to be middle-of-the-road, averaging only 111 points per game (19th in the NBA) with a 14th-ranked offensive rating. But with Porzingis returning from injury, the Mavericks can look to be a well-rounded team real soon. And with head coach Rick Carlisle at the helm, the Mavericks continue to be a team on the rise.