Brought to you by: Big Shucks
As the holidays pass and the new year is imminent, the Dallas Mavericks stumble through the bulk of December, now currently sporting a 5-7 record on the month. It should be known however that stumbling for Dallas in a season like this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, in fact, with the state of the Western Conference’s current top-heaviness it’s about the best they’re going to get. After such an anomalous prelude to this year, it’s only to be expected at this point that the teams fighting towards the bottom are simply scraping for crumbs and trying to build towards the future while the titans at the top beat each other down for a while.
Recently Dallas was pitted against the Atlanta Hawks, who, despite being a lower tier team in the Eastern Conference due to their roster being practically skewered over the past two seasons, still manage to usually get the best of the Mavericks in their matchups. Dennis Schröder lit up Dallas, as he tied his career high of 33 points, including a dagger three-pointer to all but seal the Hawks’ victory. He usually has a field day against the Mavs and this game was no different. Harrison Barnes led Dallas with 22 points, and Dirk Nowitzki showed some old fire with a nice 18-6-4 line.
Dallas now stands at a 10-25 record, which still leaves them at the bottom of the conference, and overall they remain at the second worst ranking in the league’s standings. While it certainly is concerning for any fan regarding their team’s standing if they rank so close to the bottom of the barrel, it should be noted that it is not as bad as it looks. The NBA actually has a decent amount of parity towards the middle and lower tiers of the conferences for this point in the season, as even the last place teams are still only a few games out from making it in their respective top halves.
The Mavericks are still continuing to develop the franchise’s new cornerstone young talent in Dennis Smith Jr., who, despite Dallas’ struggle-filled season, continues to be one of the rookies that dazzles and gets heads turning and people talking despite not having the limelight of the likes of some of his fellow draftees, like Lonzo Ball and Ben Simmons. Despite this, the ongoing exciting development of Smith with some top-class mentorship in Dirk Nowitzki and a teammate willing to carry responsibility with him going forward in Harrison Barnes, continues to sprinkle a glimmer on a tanking, dull season.
As the league is still trying to settle into its huge recent power shift, teams are still managing to stay in competition knowing the matchups aren’t usually unanimous. This helps the teams at the bottom who are also hoping for a top spot in the draft lottery, as they know their team is not too far off from the rest, as well as the fact that they have a shot at primed young talent. The Mavericks fall into this category, so while for teams that have postseason aspirations at the end of this season getting ready for the season to “actually start” as the Christmas shine dims and the new year rolls around continue to push on, teams like Dallas can start to take a step back; the turning point where some records can look worse than the team that holds them due to tanking (which the League continues to look for remedies for), develop young talent and prepare for a draft that can hopefully continue to send the franchise in the right direction.
As 2017 draws to a close and 2018 looks to spark some new hope for organizations, Dallas should look forward to continue building their new foundation and direction for the franchise post-Dirk. No one ever said a full on rebuild was easy, and the Dallas Mavericks are just getting started.
Wed 12/27 @ Pacers
Fri 12/29 @ Pelicans
Sun 12/31 @ Thunder