Brought to you by: Big Shucks
By Joel Montgomery
The NBA regular season has gotten off to an eventful start; with a few games being played now among all the teams, they are starting to shape their identities going into the rest of the season and hopefully the postseason. The Dallas Mavericks have gotten off to a very undesirable start considering the success pro teams strive for, currently claiming the worst record in the NBA at 1-6. While this may not be too alarming on paper considering not too many games have been played, seeing the matchups they’ve faced and just watching the mismatches in depth during these games. It’s clear there’s not much to look forward to for this team in terms of winning success this season.
Dallas opened the season with a 4-game losing streak, starting such with close losses to the Atlanta Hawks and Sacramento Kings. Both of these teams also young squads in rebuilding mode just like the Mavericks. The next two games were matchups against two from the Western Conference, and overall league’s most elite teams, the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors. As expected, both of these games were romps, with the Rockets winning by 16 and the Warriors winning by 30. In the blowouts however, there were still some instances early in the games the Mavericks showed some fight. Especially against Golden State, where they went on a crazy run in the second quarter to stay neck-and-neck with the super team for a brief time.
The team got their first win against the Memphis Grizzlies at home in a close game that Dallas mostly dominated offensively for most of the contest. However, the following day in a back to back, the Mavericks lost to the Grizzlies in a close, 5-point game on the road. To close out the week, Dallas lost a nail biter to the Philadelphia 76ers, 112-110 at home. Dallas had a chance to tie the game late, but a missed free throw by Yogi Ferrell all but sealed the victory and halted the comeback effort of the Mavericks. With a 1-6 start, things haven’t looked too hot for the team’s immediate success.
However, there have been some bright spots in this bad start for the team. Young rookie-star Dennis Smith Jr. has already proven in his very young NBA career that he’s going to be a very exciting and electrifying player to watch going forward. Already averaging 13 points and nearly 7 assists per game through the Mavericks’ first seven games, his presence has already been solidified with his dynamic offensive capabilities. He can surely become a cornerstone for this franchise going forward past the Dirk Nowitzki era; that is- if he can manage to stay healthy. There have already been a few scares for the young point guard out of NC State with some minor ankle and knee problems. With a playing-style very much akin to the explosive young Derrick Rose of yore on the Bulls, it’s justifiable to have some worry regarding his health going forward. Hopefully, Smith. Jr works on his landing mechanics off his high-flying, athletic moves at the rim to prevent any serious trouble with injuries in the future.
Furthermore, the Mavericks’ overall back court has been impressive in the team’s first seven outings. It seems that the addition of Smith Jr. has been really beneficial to getting this unit going early on this season. JJ Barea, a veteran of this team has really excelled in a leadership role for these young players and being the facilitator in a lot of scoring runs so far for Dallas. Yogi Ferrell, barring the disappointing choke at the end of the game on Saturday against Philadelphia, has been impressive in his role. Seth Curry still hasn’t been able to see his fit into the squad with Dennis Smith Jr. in play, as he is still on the bench due to injury, and is yet to be given an official timetable for return. He is still listed as “week by week”.
However, the other major unit of the team has struggled overall. The frontcourt’s paint presence has been practically nonexistent aside from spurts of impressiveness from Nerlens Noel, who hasn’t been played enough for his own good, and what he brings to a team really lacking in a defensive force in the paint. More minutes for the young forward should be in order. And while Dwight Powell has shown growth in the range of his offensive arsenal, now sporting a decent 3-ball and more mid-range finesse, he still has work to do on the defensive side down low.
Going forward, the Mavericks probably can expect similar results in games, logistically speaking. Not even being able to best a Hawks team whose best player is Dennis Schroeder spells that this team just isn’t ready for competition yet. If you’re not into NCAA basketball, I suggest any Mavericks fans out there to start getting acquainted to it to start getting a good look at the potential prospects Dallas will have a shot at snagging in next season’s draft. It’s already looking like they are bound for an excellent pick.