Can the Dallas Mavericks contend in the loaded Western Conference?

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Over the course of the last few seasons, the Dallas Mavericks have been trying to figure out who the successor to Dirk Nowitzki would be and they finally have their answer in Luka Doncic. The 21-year old Slovenian is arguably the best player in the league under the age of 24 and took the NBA world by storm last season with his play.

Doncic averaged 28.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, 8.8 assists, and shot 46.3% from the floor, 31.6% from three-point range, solidifying himself as one of the favorites to win the 2020-21 NBA MVP. It should come as no surprise to those that know Luka Doncic’s backstory to see him this successful in the NBA at such a young age.

At just 16-years old, Doncic started playing professionally for Real Madrid in Spain and quickly became one of the best players in the EuroLeague. Just two years after debuting with Real Madrid, Doncic helped lead them to the 2018 EuroLeague title, winning EuroLeague MVP as well as the Final Four MVP. He was selected to the EuroLeague 2010-20 All-Decade team and as a teenager, was one of the best players in EuroLeague history. 

With the Mavericks, Luka is doing exactly what he did overseas and is the face of the Dallas Mavericks for decades to come. With Kristaps Porzingis next to him on the court, the Mavericks not only have two young stars of the game, but two guys Dallas can build around for the foreseeable future. Last season, Luka led the Mavericks back to the playoffs for the first time in three seasons and they gave the Los Angeles Clippers all they had in the first-round of the playoffs.

Kristaps Porzingis ultimately got hurt and required surgery for a torn lateral meniscus and Luka was also dealing with a sprained ankle throughout the series. Fully healthy, this Dallas Mavericks team could have potentially won the series against the Clippers, but they will have to reload and try again this year. 

Last season, the Mavericks main problem was that outside of Doncic and Porzingis, they had no reliable scoring options, which is something they looked to address in the offseason. With rumors circulating about the Mavs potentially going after Giannis Antetokounmpo in free agency next year, they were not heavy spenders this free agency and elected to acquire some scoring help via trades.

The Mavericks made two trades this offseason, one sending Delon Wright to the Detroit Pistons and Justin Jackson plus two future second-round picks to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for veteran forward James Johnson. The second trade the Mavericks made was on draft night when they sent Seth Curry to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Josh Richardson and the draft rights to the No. 36 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. 

Both James Johnson and Josh Richardson are two older guys who can provide a good amount of scoring in the second-unit for Dallas. Richardson joins Tim Hardaway Jr. on the wing and is not only a 36.3% three-point shooter, but he is a great perimeter defender as well. With the ability to play either the 2 or 3 for the Mavs, Josh Richardson will be an impact player immediately in Dallas and help alleviate some of the depth problems they have had on the wing over the years.

James Johnson is another guy who can come in and provide some offense for the Mavs, but is a great veteran presence for a younger team. This will be Johnson’s 12th NBA season and his 7th NBA franchise he has been a member of. As the years have gone on, James Johnson has actually been getting better not just as a scorer, but a rebounder as well.

After being traded to the Timberwolves at the trade deadline last season, James Johnson averaged 12.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and shot 37.0% from deep. If he can bring this skillset to the Dallas Mavericks off the bench, it will help Dallas a lot down the stretch as they ranked middle of the pack in bench scoring last season. 

These two trades definitely bolster the Mavs bench and their depth on the wing, as well as at the power-forward position. However, the Mavericks also helped themselves by going out in the NBA Draft and bringing in two young shooters who can have an immediate impact off the bench in their rookie seasons.

About Brett Siegel 637 Articles
Brett Siegel joined NBA Analysis Network as a NBA Insider in 2020. For all up-to-date NBA news, stats and info, and any inquiries, be sure to follow him on Twitter @BrettSiegelNBA.