Roundtable: How did the Mavericks do in the offseason?

Let’s just assume from where we are that the Dallas Mavericks are done this summer. How do you think they did in terms of revamping the team between the draft and free agency?

Jack: There wasn’t a path toward getting back into contention this offseason. When you end the year as an 11 seed and have limited assets to improve the team with, it’s a real uphill battle. But Dallas should be commended for what they were able to accomplish. They became younger, more athletic and more defensively minded. Yes, they still have a lot of holes on this very unbalanced roster. There are too many guards, not enough wings and question marks in the middle. If they’re done, they’re probably still a fringe playoff team at best. But for the most part, this offseason was a good process and it puts them in a much better place for the future than we thought possible a few months ago.

Doyle: I don’t know that the team is much better than it was a season ago. There are new faces that look promising on paper — Grant Williams, Dereck Lively II, Olivier-Maxence Prosper, Dante Exum — but how they fit in will help determine whether the Mavs are good or not. Did the front office build a roster destined to return to the postseason, or are these signings another smokescreen for disaster like the once vaunted signing of JaVale McGee?

Xavier: The bar is so low that fans are excited to see new faces. Take a few steps back and you’ll find an unbalanced list. Where are the wings? Isn’t Josh Green taking a significant step forward starting at the 3? Who will play wing back? Are we comfortable making Lively the anchor of your defense? In a vacuum, the draft day deal was arguably a good move as a business transaction. Overall, they haven’t done enough to cement this team as a 6-seed in the West.

Gracie: They’re still a long way from being true contenders, but this summer showed they’re willing to try to change what went wrong. Coach Kidd said himself that a lot of the guys on the team wouldn’t be back, and we’ve seen that happen. For a team that hasn’t really worried about the draft, addressing the issue of selecting two guys whose strengths are defense was a step in the right direction. Will they take time to develop? Probably. There is still plenty of work to be done in the front office and on the basketball court. The center position and wing depth still worry me.

Matt: This is the most committed to widespread change the organization has been since tearing apart the championship team. And it’s for a good cause! No more rental players – what’s happening in Dallas is a full-on youth movement. The team construction needs work as mentioned, but there is fluidity there. Everything can change and we depend on nothing. In the meantime, we get to root for some new faces and see who blossoms. Seth Curry is here too!

Matthew: The Dallas Mavericks committed to getting bigger and more athletic. They both did these things. There was not a viable path to become title favorite for the 2023-2024 season. But they will get better, and they have legitimate reasons to be hopeful about the future. I would also be hesitant to completely write off the Mavericks for this season. Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving have the potential to be the best offensive backcourt in basketball history. They have made significant strides towards becoming more competitive in the forecourt. The margins in the NBA are razor sharp and it wouldn’t surprise me if the Mavericks are a mid-tier playoff seed. By the time they get to the playoffs, they will likely have the best player on the field every night. In the words of Kevin Garnett (who was no better than Dirk Nowitzki) “anything is possible!”

Leg: The Mavericks prioritized the draft for the first time since taking Doncic and Jalen Brunson. The results are promising, as the two players they got in the first round look like exactly the type of athletes the Mavericks desperately need. Free agency wasn’t all that successful. By re-signing Irving to a very above-market contract, Dallas committed to a player who has torpedoed every championship contender he has been a part of since 2017. There is no reason to believe Irving will work out for the Mavericks. But they brought back fan favorite Seth Curry and took a flyer on former lottery pick Dante Exum, so that’s fun. Overall, the Mavericks improved, but are nowhere near contending for the Finals, let alone a championship.

Brian: I’ve been asking for change from the Dallas Mavericks for five years, and through free agency and the draft, the Mavericks accomplished that goal. Like Doyle, I’m not sure the team is much better heading into the 23-24 season, but at least we have fresh faces to evaluate on this roster for the first time in ages.

Josh: There is a bit of a conundrum when discussing the Mavericks offseason. On the one hand, the work the Mavericks did in the last month was objectively amazing. Even if you’re not a fan of the specific players acquired, the Mavericks entered this offseason with extremely limited resources: the 10th pick in the draft, no cap room and limited trade ammunition. The team turned it into two first round players, Seth Curry, Dante Exum and Grant Williams. It’s good business even if you have trouble drafting Dereck Lively at 10 or aren’t that high on Williams. For a Mavericks roster that has been stagnant for years, it was the exact type of shakeup needed for a team coming off an extremely disappointing season.

The other side of the coin, though, is how much better are the Mavericks? Dallas finished 11th in the West last season, and it’s hard to argue which teams above them, if any, really took a step back. The top four of the Nuggets, Grizzlies, Kings and Suns will all be good again. The Warriors will stick around as long as Steph Curry is Steph Curry. That Lakers now have a full season with the revamped roster that took them to the conference finals. The Timberwolves, Pelicans and Thunder are all young and have only added more through the draft/free agency. Maybe the only team that can bounce back is the Clippers? And even then, they can add James Harden in September. So where do the Mavericks land? It’s fair to say Dallas improved their team in a big way, but still be wary of their playoff position. The one counter to it all is Luka is Luka, but that narrative was shattered a bit last season when the team failed despite Luka’s brilliance. Dallas played a ton of clutch games last season, so with the better players and hopefully a little better luck, the Mavericks should win more games. The question becomes how many? I’m still a little unsure. Despite that, Mavericks can only play the board in front of them. The Mavericks had a great offseason. It may just take a few more before they are title contenders again.

Church: It has been a fantastic off-season. This is what I’ve wanted them to do for three years! Now… the questions are pretty straightforward: is it too late? Is it enough? We’ll have to find out, but the floor on this team is significantly better. Let’s just hope the ceiling is higher too.

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