The Dallas Mavericks made wholesale changes to their front office and coaching staff when they hired Nico Harrison as general manager and Jason Kidd as head coach.
They'll collectively look to jumpstart a Mavericks team that has fallen to the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the playoffs each of the past two years.
Dallas will always be in the playoff mix for the foreseeable future so long as triple-double machine and likely perennial All-NBA player Luka Doncic remains healthy and on the roster. However, the Mavericks' roster surrounding Doncic has been unable to keep pace with the Western Conference's best over the past few years.
Kristaps Porzingis was supposed to be Robin to Doncic's Batman, but injuries have lessened the 7'3" big man's sky-high potential. KP notably struggled during the 2021 playoffs, amassing just 13.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.
Still, Porzingis has shined at times and posted 20.1 points and 8.9 rebounds during the regular season. The Mavs need improvement and more consistency from him to take the next step.
Elsewhere, much of the Mavs' roster remains intact. Dallas brought back third-leading scorer Tim Hardaway Jr. on a four-year deal, and the same goes for Dorian Finney-Smith and Maxi Kleber. New additions include Moses Brown via trade, which sent Josh Richardson out of town. Reggie Bullock also joined the team in free agency from the New York Knicks. Dallas did not add anyone through the draft, as it did not have any picks.
We'll soon find out if the front office and coaching moves propel this roster to greater heights. Here's a look at some schedule information and a season forecast for now.
2021-22 Mavericks Schedule Details
Season Opener: at Atlanta Hawks, Oct. 21 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Championship Odds: +2700 (FanDuel)
Entire 2021-22 Schedule: NBA.com
Feb. 10 vs. Clippers
Naturally, the Mavericks and Clippers don't exactly get along after two testy first-round playoff series. The two teams are vying to represent the Western Conference and make a name for themselves alongside other league powers, and Dallas can do itself a lot of good by taking care of business against this team.
Dec. 15 vs. Lakers
No NBA fan has to be sold on tuning in for Doncic versus four-time NBA MVP and champion LeBron James. The Lakers-Mavericks games will also feature a great matchup with Doncic against newly acquired Russell Westbrook as the two triple-double machines go head-to-head.
Feb. 8 vs. Pistons
We'll find out how No. 1 overall draft pick Cade Cunningham matches up with Doncic when the Detroit Pistons and Mavericks battle in two separate matchups. The former Oklahoma State star was a consensus first-team All-American in his lone season with the Cowboys. In addition, Doncic has destroyed the Pistons in years past, averaging 34.3 points, 10.0 rebounds and 9.3 assists in three games.
The onus is on Porzingis to improve and Kidd to bring the Mavericks deeper into the playoffs after falling to the Clips two straight times. Both things could certainly happen. Maybe Porzingis has a great offseason and becomes a double-double machine, and maybe an infusion of a new locker-room leader is just what the Mavs need.
At the same time, this roster doesn't appear much better on paper than last year. The team is good enough to fight for a top-four Western Conference spot, but the loaded Western Conference is a gauntlet that may be too much for the Mavs to handle.
Asking Dallas to vault to the top tier of the Western Conference may be too much, but a top-four seed and a second-round appearance is viable.
Record Prediction: 51-31 (No. 4 in Western Conference)
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