The Dallas Mavericks came up short in their Western Conference finals series against the Golden State Warriors. Now, they will look to add the necessary pieces around Luka Doncic for next season to win a championship.
Much of the focus surrounding the Mavericks’ offseason is centered around the pending free agency of Jalen Brunson. He will be due for a massive raise coming off his rookie deal. Adding more talent will be needed, too.
The Mavericks went far in the postseason by fully embracing scrambling as a unit defensively and leaning into “Luka ball” for their offensive strategy. Brunson had big moments, but they do not have a second All-Star.
Dorian Finney-Smith made a comment during the conference finals cautioning the talk about how the Mavericks need to add another All-Star talent in the offseason at the expense of a roster that plays well together.
“We’ve definitely got enough in this locker room to do something special,” Finney-Smith told ESPN during the Western Conference Finals. “We’re here. We’re a top-four team in the NBA. You can try to find another star, but you never know how that’s going to mesh with Luka or the other personnel. It’s an adjustment to play with somebody like Luka, too, and I feel like [Brunson] adjusted well and [Dinwiddie]too.
“The bunch-of-stars s— don’t even work anymore. Fit matters.”
There is undoubtedly some truth to what Finney-Smith shared about stacking up stars. Look no further than some of the potentially disastrous signings the Mavericks could have made in recent years by throwing money at big names in free agency.
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The Mavericks were among the teams in the mix to sign Kyle Lowry last offseason. This season, he was a less impactful player than Jalen Brunson, especially in the playoffs. Had Dallas landed Lowry, they’d be paying big money to a 36-year-old who already is showing signs of wearing down.
There’s another perspective to take into consideration, too. Last season, the Atlanta Hawks pulled off a surprise run to the Eastern Conference Finals and felt running it back would translate to success. They now regret that decision.
There’s a balance for a team looking to take the necessary jump amid holding championship aspirations. Understanding what is truly the foundation of the team’s success and what were the shortcomings against a team like the Warriors goes a long way.
What got the Mavericks to the conference finals was going small and overwhelming the Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns with perimeter shooting coupled with defensive versatility and the excellence of Luka Doncic.
The Mavericks didn’t convert as efficiently on catch-and-shoot 3s as needed against the Warriors compared to their production against the Jazz and Suns. Dallas’ defense struggled early with keeping up with Golden State’s weak-side actions and was unable to stay in position to finish plays in the paint.
Some have pointed to the Mavericks only missing a big man as if it’s some ‘missing piece’ to winning a championship. Fielding a slower unit with a non-shooting threat doesn’t help with scrambling on defense or countering the Warriors overloading the strong side and guarding the second option (Brunson) with Draymond Green.
Improving talent at the center position would help the Mavericks, but if the mission is to get through the Warriors, there’s more to consider. Dallas needs another wing that can make plays off the dribble and add defensive versatility, regardless of whether that player is an All-Star or not.