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NBA Basketball | Luka Doncic and the Mavericks make changes after reaching the WCF

Doncic and the Mavericks did not have the same success in the conference finals against the Golden State Warriors, but making it that far was an accomplishment. They’d made six playoff trips in the ten seasons since winning the NBA title in 2011, losing in the first round each time. If nothing else, Doncic’s ability to demolish defenses served as proof of concept for a style of play that may win Dallas its next title in the near future.

The Phoenix Suns are still reeling from the blow dealt to them by the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavericks hit 42.2 percent of their 3-point attempts, tried 40 per game, and scored 121 points per 100 possessions in their four wins in the second round of last year’s playoffs. It ended in a Game 7 carnage on Phoenix’s own court, with Luka Doncic scoring 27 points at halftime, the same as the whole Suns squad, and Dallas leading by 30.

Doncic was Complimented

In June by Suns player Mikal Bridges for going into the teeth of their defense, slow-stepping around the basket and launching beautiful passes to wide-open jumpers. “You just watch to see whether he’s about to make the shot, and the man would just skip that stuff across the floor,” Bridges said on an edition of JJ Redick’s podcast “The Old Man and the Three.”

Redick, who played for the Mavericks for the last few months of his career, explained their 5-out assault succinctly: “They’re either going to go in the post with [Jalen] Brunson or Doncic and score there, or they’re going to kick it out for a 3.”

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Even the eventual champion Warriors could not halt Dallas from producing attractiveness. The Mavs produced more wide-open 3s in their defeats to Golden State (24.5 per game) than in their victories over Phoenix (21.5), but they didn’t convert them at a rate as high in the conference finals (35.7 percent vs. 46.5 percent).

Therefore, the way forward appeared to be straightforward: Try to make adjustments on the margins, then return and give it another shot. In the middle of the season, they dealt Kristaps Porzingis for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans, ending a once-promising alliance that had reached its breaking point.

Dallas ultimately made significant alterations as opposed to minor adjustments. Only a few months after Brunson scored 41 points in 42 minutes to lead the club to a playoff victory without Doncic, he signed a four-year, $104 million contract with the New York Knicks. According to Brunson’s father, the Mavericks did not anticipate this result when they decided against giving the former No. 33 selection a three-year, $56 million deal before the season and again in January.

JaVale McGee was signed by Dallas, who assured him of a starting position. On draft night, it traded for Christian Wood with its first-round pick. The Mavericks will start Doncic, Dinwiddie, Reggie Bullock, Dorian Finney-Smith, and McGee in Phoenix when the regular season begins. With Wood and Maxi Kleber in the frontcourt and Tim Hardaway Jr. back on the wing after missing the most of 2021–22 due to foot surgery, Dinwiddie will also be in charge of the second unit.

You might argue that, simply due to their size, Dinwiddie and Hardaway compliment Doncic more than Brunson did. You might argue that because of his gravity-assisted roll to the basket, paint-bound McGee will improve spacing rather than worsen it. You could also argue that Wood is the most dynamic big man Doncic has ever played alongside and that his current basketball setting is excellent for him. The Mavs could improve from last season, but it will undoubtedly take a different form.

The puzzle piece: Josh Green

Josh Geren has recently generated a lot of attention. He has served as a playmaker for Jason Kidd, who gushed that he “done everything we needed him to do” this summer. He trained alongside Kyle Lowry, who assisted him in slowing down so he could see plays unfold. Everyone appears to be suggesting that he has returned with better honed talents and greater confidence after being labeled as a non-factor on offense in the playoffs and watching his playing time dwindle.

According to the Dallas Morning News, assistant coach Jared Dudley, “His aggressiveness is night and day.”

Dallas can utilize as many athletic wings as it can get as long as Doncic is the face of the team. There will be minutes for him if he can put the ball in the basket against twisted defenders, shoot 3s with confidence, and hit a respectable proportion of them.

What if the Mavs’ biggest acquisition was a move rather than a player? My favorite offseason storyline included Doncic’s skyhook, and I genuinely hope he develops it into a useful offensive tool. However, he hasn’t used it yet in the preseason, so it’s unclear if he took it back with him from Slovenia or not.

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