Plenty to Blame for Mavs’ Early Elimination


The Dallas Mavericks just completed the most disappointing campaign in all of the NBA this season.

Fresh off a run to the Western Conference Finals, fans expected growth and for the team to be a contender in a wide-open conference. Despite this, however, Dallas fell to regular-season elimination on Apr. 7— a stunning halt after they had been at least a Play-In Tournament candidate for most of the year.

A set of games created to allow teams to taste postseason glory, and they failed to even reach that.

This season reached such low levels that Dallas was suspiciously losing their elimination game, which the NBA has reportedly launched an investigation on.

This result was predictable, as the team became deeply flawed and not even superstar Luka Dončić could carry them.

Where did the season go wrong? It started early with the front office.

Roster (de)construction

Dallas’ leadership has proven many times they’re not afraid of rolling the dice. Trades for Kristaps Porzingis and Kyrie Irving showcase their will to add to the team no matter what.

The problem with that mindset is they have failed to make the right trades.

Dallas let Jalen Brunson walk this offseason, who thrived next to Luka. The 26-year-old has increased his role and productivity with the New York Knicks. The franchise tried to replace him by trading for Christian Wood and, eventually, Irving.

Even though both make sense in theory, neither player proved to be the right fit for the team. Wood’s defensive flaws saw his minutes decrease over time, and Irving went 5-11 when he shared the court with Luka.

Moreover, Dallas spent money on “win-now” pieces that failed, like a disappointing JaVale McGee. Conversely, the Mavs gave up on some of their better role players such as Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith, both of whom were included in the Irving trade.

After being one of the best defensive teams last season, the Mavs went completely against that identity. Exchanging Brunson and DFS for Irving and Wood absolutely tanked Dallas’ defensive power. This decision is made even worse when considering Jason Kidd is a defensive-minded coach.

These mistakes don’t even consider personality, as Irving is famous for blowing things up wherever he goes.

All of this showcases how poor the team-building was in Dallas. Instead of following up on what works, the franchise went against their proven identity and delivered one of the most poorly constructed rosters in the league.

The front office did not give Kidd the pieces he needed to properly compete, but that does not mean he is innocent in the failed season.

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Kidd’s Coaching Lacking Adaptation?

As a coach with a defensive identity, Jason Kidd can expect to have players that fit his style. After not receiving these pieces, however, Kidd was unable to adapt.

The best example of Kidd’s unfavorable handling of his new-look roster is his treatment of Wood. Despite the 27-year-old being arguably the third-best player on the team, Kidd had him come off the bench in all but 17 games and averaged under 26 minutes per contest.

Kidd’s peculiar decision making has drawn criticism from many. Among the most popular, The Ringer‘s Kevin O’Connor pointed out some of his poor rotations on a March episode of his podcast The Mismatch. O’Connor stated that Kidd needed to give Wood, Jaden Hardy and Josh Green more minutes.

This is not where his criticism ends, however, as the analyst took to Twitter to share it as well.

More than his questionable decisions was that Kidd fails to show any sort of accountability. His now-infamous interview showcases his failure to understand the power his role holds.

Despite all of this, the former NBA champion is not the only person to blame for the Mavs’ disappointing season. While his job appears safe for now, things can change in an instant.

Mavs Enter Early Uncharted Territory

With the early end of their season, Cuban and co. will have to decide if they want to pay Irving and Wood to make them Luka’s official co-stars.

Despite the lack of success, the team cannot afford to let both walk for nothing. If so, an already-limited roster will become one of the worst in the league and Dončić might have to start considering his future elsewhere.

Cuban has already expressed interest in re-signing Kyrie. Wood’s status with the team remains unknown.

In theory, it’s possible that a new coach with better offensive schemes and a full offseason can help Luka, Irving and Wood combine to be an offensive juggernaut. Before that, however, Cuban should focus on acquiring defensive players than can work with the trio if they wish to contend.

Lucky for Dallas, this year’s free-agency group features a few solid defensive veterans that might be interested in joining a contender for a lesser contract. Jae Crowder, Patrick Beverley and Josh Richardson should be attainable options for Cuban to target.

It should be noted that Dončić himself shares some of the blame — as some have already noted — but the superstar has been the team’s best player all season long, even with his flaws.

With a star like Luka, it’s possible for Dallas to rejoin the fight for the West next season. Mavs leadership needs to start making better moves if they wish for him to stick around for the long haul.

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About Jesús Feliciano-Batista

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