This season was absolutely a success.
I had two goals for the season. Firstly, make it past the First round of the playoffs. Secondly, figure out the Kristaps Porzingis fit with Luka.
The first one was wildly over shot and the second has been permanently fixed.
The team had a 52-30 record in the first year with Jason Kidd at the Helm, and made the Western Conference Finals after their first Playoff advance in over a decade, so it is really hard to argue this isn’t an amazing success.
Lets start with Grades.
GM Nico Harrison:
The new GM coming in and shaping the roster in a different way by removing the “Second Star” was crazy. It absolutely worked. Harrison did seem to not give out as bad of contracts even the Tim Hardaway Jr overpay is a descending contract.
Head Coach Jason Kidd:
The Mavs became a defensive force under Jason Kidd even before Kristaps was shipped away. After the trade, the Mavs became one of the best teams in the league. Many players improved, and specifically in ways that show Kidd’s influence on the changes. For someone who came in and I thought would be the worst coach in the league this is insanely important. It had been a decade since Rick Carlisle had the Success that Kidd had this year.
2-Way Contracts Theo Pinson and Moses Brown:
Did basically nothing on court but were great as locker room/chemistry guys.
Forward Sterling Brown:
This was probably due to expectations the worst Mav this season. Sterling couldn’t shoot and that’s all he is good for. He had an absolutely horrible year and will need to bounce back next year if he wants to stay in the league.
Guard Trey Burke:
He was not supposed to be on this team. If his contract for next season was not guaranteed he would be gone. Burke had a real struggle to make any impact in limited minutes for the team.
Big Marquese Chriss:
After a crazy start to his Mavs tenure he fell out of the rotation and couldn’t get minutes at the most needed position for the team.
Pivot Boban Marjanovic:
Is THE CHEMISTRY GUY on the Mavs bench. He’s such an important person in our locker room, unfortunately he’s almost useless on the court in Kidd’s defensive scheme.
Wing Josh Green:
Green had an up and down season. After a disastrous Rookie Campaign this was much better. In the regular season he was able to soak up wing minutes to allow Dorian and Reggie some rest. However, the Playoffs exposed him in a way where he just could not be on the floor. Josh will have to learn to play more consistent defense if he wants to be a mainstay in the Mavs rotation and his 3 shot (36%) will have to continue to improve.
Wing Frank Ntilikina:
Frank took Josh’s minutes in the Playoffs and it was the major change that saved the season. Frank, as a wing, is a huge difference that takes out the bad parts of his game. Frank isn’t a guard and hopefully he sticks as a 3 and D wing.
Forward Davis Bertans:
Bertans was a major factor off the bench in the playoffs where his 3 point percentage rose from a league average 36% for Dallas in the regular season to 37% (More inline with his career average) in the playoffs. Bertans turned into a different player attacking off the dribble and blocking weak side shots like he had never done before.
Wing Tim Hardaway Jr:
Probably the most disappointing season for the Mavs, Tim had a leadership role and a starting spot that he lost because his shot abandoned him. Kidd’s offense giving more freedom seemed to hurt Tim. Hardaway should be used more as an off ball sniper than trying to do an impression of his dad. Hopefully a full season with Dinwiddie and Brunson in their roles allows Hardaway to rebound and make his contract less of a burden for the team.
Big Maxi Kleber:
Maxi was horrible on offense in the regular season while having an insane Defensive impact. In the playoffs his shot returned and he was a major reason the Mavs made the conference finals. It is hard to overlook Maxi’s defensive impact where he might be one of the best switch bigs in the entire league but his offensive shortcomings in the season bring his grade down a bit. Next year he should start over Powell if we want to be successful.
Guard Spencer Dinwiddie:
Dinwiddie was a huge pickup in replacing Kristaps. His extra ball handling was desperately needed on a team with only 2 other ball handlers. Shooting 40%+ in both the regular season and the playoffs for the Mavs has changed the idea of him as a player. If that shooting continues he will be a major part of the future of this franchise and having both him and Tim off the bench will be fantastic.
Big Dwight Powell:
I am the President and CEO of the Dwight Powell Haters International. However as an analyst I will try to ignore my position in DPHI. Powell had his best regular season ever. He was fantastic on defense by the end of the year, switching onto forwards and even some guards while being the menace he once was as a roll man. He was one of the few players to play all 82 games this year. Then the playoffs happened.
One has to wonder if the Mavs would have been better off if his Iron Man streak ended. This might have been one of the worst playoff performances in recent history. It is honestly mind blowing that Kidd never benched Powell. The only explanation I can have for the continued play of Powell in the playoffs is that Dwight has blackmail on Mark Cuban or maybe even Adam Silver, as there is no explanation how someone that bad continues to play let alone start for a conference finals team.
Wing Reggie Bullock:
Bullock had a slow start shooting in the year but his defense was making him playable and eventually a starter. Then the shot came around and, in the playoffs, he was almost at 40%. Bullock’s ability to harass the second best perimeter guy for the team made the defense work. Bullock for the MLE was EXCELLENT and deserves a great grade.
Wing-Forward Dorian Finney-Smith:
Dorian exploded this season. He’s better at every aspect of the game and should have made the all defensive team. His ability to guard the opponents best player no matter the position was incredible. According to the Mavs own numbers, Dorian guarded the other teams best scorer more than any player in the league. He was absolutely one of the best defenders in the league while being a 39.5% shooter (Almost 43% in the playoffs). Dorian’s contract extension is an absolute steal for someone who was unarguably the 3rd guy on a Conference Finals team.
Point Guard Jalen Brunson:
Not much can be said about Brunson that hasn’t already been said. Brunson was insane this year. He proved he can help the scoring load and is able to play off Luka. The Mavs HAVE to keep Jalen. Brunson being one of the best post up threats in the league (84th percentile according to Synergy) even against bigs like Ayton, Gobert and Embiid. He improved on defense and on passing (Not just volume his vision is greatly improved this year) to the point that he is definitely a starting Point Guard in this league.
Grade A+ Valedictorian
Point Forward Luka Doncic:
Luka is undoubtedly the best player on the team but it is hard to argue that he wasn’t a slight disappointment this year. Luka had a top 10 MVP Finish and had his 3rd straight All NBA 1st team selection but still was disappointing. While his defense looked better at times this year (Sometimes even great) he was out of shape most of the year and struggled with consistency more than he should have. For Luka this was a bad season, for any other player in the league it was fantastic.
Now is the time for the Mavs to build on what was unequivocally an A+ performance of a year. Next year the real expectations begin.