Here’s a little-known fact: the Dallas Mavericks are one game behind the Golden State Warriors for third place in the Western Conference.
Mavs point guard and international superstar Luka Doncic have garnered serious MVP buzz as the season’s end draws closer, but if he can lift them up to the third spot in the West, it will be his greatest achievement in the NBA thus far— and it will significantly help his case for the league’s highest individual honor.
With a matchup against the 23-56 Detroit Pistons in the cards for Wednesday evening, Dallas’ chance of restoring their past glory might be coming sooner than anyone realized.
The Dallas Mavericks’ climb up the ladder
The Dallas Mavericks are guaranteed a spot in the playoffs and are not at risk of falling into the play-in tournament; they have no hope of catching the Phoenix Suns or Memphis Grizzlies, but they can easily catch the Golden State Warriors for third.
Golden State has managed to win back-to-back games after dropping four straight and will close out its campaign with games against the Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs, and New Orleans Pelicans. All of these opponents will be considered inferior by the oddsmakers, but the Dubs will have to face them without the injured Steph Curry.
Now, whether or not it is in the Mavericks’ best interest to leapfrog Golden State is a different question; as it stands, the Mavs would square off against the Utah Jazz in the first round of the playoffs, whereas the third seed would face the Denver Nuggets and reigning MVP Nikola Jokic. The Jazz is considered the better overall team and will be healthier, but the Nuggets have a superstar capable of matching Doncic’s output.
Not to indicate that Dallas could throw games, but it is a situation they surely have thought about already.
What’s their ceiling
The Mavericks can knock off legit contenders in a Western Conference where there is no true giant atop the conference. Yes, the Suns have already won 63 games and are elite at nearly every aspect of the game, but they do not have that one player that makes opponents shiver in their shoes— sorry, Devin Booker.
Luka can be that player in the postseason; just ask the Los Angeles Clippers. The Mavs’ megastar was hunting Giannis Antetokounmpo on the pick-and-roll just a few days ago, showing that he is not scared of anybody and wants the challenge of beating the best.
Dallas also finally found a partner for Doncic in the backcourt with a midseason trade for Spencer Dinwiddie, which sent Kristaps Porzingis to the Washington Wizards. Dallas also got Davis Bertans in the deal.
Dinwiddie is averaging 16.4 points and four assists, mostly off the bench, since his arrival, and has appeared in many closing lineups. He, Doncic, and Jalen Brunson are a tremendous trio of guards that each provide different qualities and compliment each other nicely.
The Mavs also have shooters, rebounders, and athletes surrounding their young phenom, all of which are necessities for teams that are so dependent upon one player to carry the offense. They are built for the postseason and will bring the hurt to any team not prepared for them.
Luka is as experienced a young player as there has ever been in the NBA, but the rest of the squad cannot say the same: this could be their downfall. Until it comes to bite them, however, no team will want to play them.
So, what is the Dallas Mavericks’ ceiling? Only time will tell— but this team is the best in the
Doncic era and has a realistic path to the Western Conference Finals.
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