NBA

Analysis of the Mavs roster after a turbulent offseason

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Nearly a month into the NBA’s free agent frenzy, the Mavericks, like everyone else in the league, are waiting to see what dominoes might fall from the Kevin Durant situation.

It could be something big. It couldn’t be anything.

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Regardless of what happens with the Brooklyn Nets superstar, it’s unlikely to have an impact on the Mavericks. They would be a third or fourth team at best in a multi-team deal that would help ease Durant’s move to someone else.

That said, you never know. If you drag around the hoop long enough, you might get an unexpected bounce.

That’s why it’s good that the Mavericks still have a spot on the roster — just in case.

But for now, let’s assume the heavy lifting is done and this, essentially, is the roster they’ll be leading into battle in October.

The bottom line, when you look at it objectively, is that the offseason could have been worse.

Yes, the Mavericks lost Jalen Brunson, and it’s a blow to take.

But it’s not as debilitating as, say, losing Steve Nash for nothing. Nash was already a two-time all-star before leaving in 2004 for Phoenix. As with Brunson, the Mavericks got nothing in exchange for Nash, although that opened the window for the arrival of Jason Terry, which turned out to be OK.

Brunson is a good player and could thrive even more in New York. Time will tell us. Where he can be missed the most is in the locker room, where he was an emerging leader and a stand-up individual.

But the Mavericks knew that when they didn’t sign Brunson for an extension last year, they were at risk of losing him.

And they prepared accordingly.

Christian Wood’s business was the centerpiece of their off-season business. He answered one of the most pressing needs of the team.

Although losing Brunson left them shy of proven point guards, they needed to address their rebound and size issues. Wood, along with the free agent signing of JaVale McGee, should alleviate some of those concerns.

They’re also hoping for a big leap forward from players like Josh Green and Spencer Dinwiddie, who will be in his second year after major knee surgery. If the story holds, there is usually a significant increase in the number of players in their second year as a result of such injuries.

So what will the Mavericks look like?

While there are still two months to go before training camp, here’s a projection of what the rotation’s roster and key players could look like.

Front row: Christian Wood, Dorian Finney-Smith, Reggie Bullock.

While starting McGee and Wood together has some appeal, it would mean Tim Hardaway Jr. and Bullock would come off the bench.

In today’s NBA, you probably want at least one of these shooters on the floor all the time.

Wood’s progression over the past few seasons makes him an ideal candidate for the roster. His presence means everyone on the frontline can knock down a 3-pointer consistently. That’s how this team is built.

Last season, Dwight Powell started all but 11 games in the regular season and all 18 in the playoffs. His lack of 3-point shooting allowed defenses to cover the way they played against Luka Dončić.

This should not be the case with Wood on board.

Back: Luka Doncic, Spencer Dinwiddie.

With Brunson out, Dinwiddie will use where he excelled before his knee injury. He was a 20-point scorer on a Brooklyn .500 team the season before his downfall. From now on, he will be asked to carry a greater offensive load than when he was acquired last season.

It should be noted that Dinwiddie also averaged almost seven assists in 64 games in 2019-20 before suffering three injuries in 2020-21.

Dinwiddie had a career-best 40.4 percent from 3-point range after joining the Mavericks. He was fantastic in that regard in the playoffs at almost 42%. The Mavericks are banking on his upward trend this season.

And, of course, they’re banking on Luka being Luka too.

All of that means averaging 28.3 points, 8.8 rebounds and 8.7 assists – the numbers he’s produced over the past three seasons. This team remains his team.

Top Reserves: Maxi Kleber, JaVale McGee, Dwight Powell, Tim Hardaway Jr., Josh Green, Davis Bertans, Frank Ntilikina.

The bench is deep which is great. You can live with some players who aren’t thrilled with their playing time. It’s when you don’t have enough solid players to contribute that you have problems.

It’s a safe bet that Kleber, McGee and Powell could all start their share of games this season. Same goes for Hardaway, who should be fully recovered from the foot surgery that ended his season in late January.

This trio should give Kidd the luxury of keeping big fresh bodies in the game at all times.

Green will have plenty of opportunities to inherit some of the 30+ minutes per game that Brunson consumed. Bertāns remains a sniper and Ntilikina will be the third ball carrier behind Dinwiddie and Luka.

Unless . . .

The Mavericks are hoping second-round pick Jaden Hardy, Theo Pinson and two-way signee Tyler Dorsey can all be effective substitutes if injured or ill. And never forget that COVID-19 is still here and the league takes precautions against the virus very seriously.

Pinson and Dorsey have plenty of NBA experience. Hardy is very talented. All should see opportunities as the season progresses.

It will be a good deal for Jason Kidd to have plenty of bodies that can plug in for any situation that arises.

Twitter: @ESefko

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