Buying or Selling? | Mavericks Big Picture Predictions

Updated: September 1, 2021

To be 22 years young in a series sporting PG-13 and 2-time Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and still be the clear-cut best player on the floor is a feat only accomplished by the likes of King James and His Airness, Michael Jeffery Jordan. Well, that’s exactly what the Slovenian serpent Luka Dončić was for half the series against the Clippers…borderline unstoppable. At 6 foot 8, with deep range, and court vision that already rivals the greats in history, the former Euro-League MVP dominated in a way very few have before the age of 25. Even after a shoulder/neck injury had seemed to limit his physical abilities and dropping two back-to-back games tying up the series 2-2, Luka reemerged with a vengeance and took game 5. But that was where the Slovenian fairytale story ended. Up 3-2, and a single W away from heading to Utah and one step closer to a title, who the best player on the floor was as transparent as freshly polished glass…and he wasn’t from the Eastern Block but down south near the Mexican border in San Diego.

As Kawhi Leonard went into God-Mode and forced all the KD stans to pause in their confidence of crowning a new king after the burial of #23 in the purple and gold, all the narratives that had manifested about the young Dončić were forced to be diluted. Nothing like a first-round knockout to sober a crowd. Especially in the wake of all the chatter of Ty Lue’s Clips looking dysfunctional and destined for failure, the whole country of Slovenia was silenced as the Klaw put on a clinic with clear depictions of why 4th quarter buckets count more than those first-half numbers that so often inflate a player’s perceived impact.

So where are we now? +400 that’s where, and the #1 odds for Most Valuable Player according to Vegas, is the Wonder Boy, Luka Dončić. And from what I’ve collected from the talking heads at ESPN and Fox along with the majority of pods on the airways, the vast majority slots Luka at 22 as a top 5 player. Granted this term top 5 somehow is able to fit 7-9 players when an analyst is pushed to actually map of the names, Luka’s last name seems to be cemented in that top tier category. And as we have previously established in our first three articles of this series on the Lakers, Suns, and Hawks, buying and selling stock on a player or team is relative to the perception of its value. Presumably, for the regular season, if Dončić was to take the MVP crown, Dallas would need to be at very least a top 4 team in the West. With regards to his overall clout and the street credentials that may only be born by collecting W’s in 7-game series, the Mavericks would need to either get to the Conference Finals or at the very least chop down a true contender in the 1st round and make it to the 2nd. To explore the variables that will dictate the probability of such predictions, let’s take a deep dive into the currently constructed Dallas roster.


The 2021 offseason was supposed to be a big event for the Dallas Mavericks. Several moves or lack moves were taken in the previous years in anticipation for their 3rd star signed in free agency. But the NBA has changed dramatically in this respect. Even if a player decides to leave in free agency, the migration still is executed in the form of a sign and trade transaction. Unfortunately for Mark Cuban and the Mavericks, Kawhi stayed, Giannis signed the super-max, and for reasons I’m still trying to understand, Kyle Lowry decided to end his career next to Jimmy Butler in South Beach rather than chaining his old coal-burning train to the 22-year-old Slovenian Express. Instead of Giannis or Kawhi…they retained Timmy Hardaway the 2nd and signed Reggie Bullock. Starring at this roster in the trade machine over the last few days in comparison to the Hawks and Suns, and there is just a dramatic difference in depth when looking at Dallas and the shallow puddle of talent they have under contract.

Both the Suns and Hawks have a handful of young talent that is projected to level up. But when looking at Dallas, outside of Luka, the probability of substantial internal development is on the verge of depressing. Everything steers back to the trade with New York and the acquisition of 7-foot-3 wing, Kristaps Porzingis. The Latvian giant can hang on the fucking rim without jumping and yet is afraid of the block, is too slow to cover 1’s and 2’s and is too slight to even slow down top tier 5s. With nearly 101 million still owed on the max extension he was given upon arrival from the Big Apple, if KP doesn’t return back to form or find some sort of heart, what exactly can be expected from a team whose 2nd option is Hardaway Jr.?

Considering both LA teams might be on cruise control throughout the entirety of the regular season, Klay won’t be back for the Warriors till Christmas or later, and Murry would be lucky to even make it back for the playoffs in Denver, Luka for MVP and a 4th seed for Dallas is a reasonable prediction. However, since he is the clear favorite for the selection, the dividends paid for this prediction are hardly worth the take. Durant, Curry, Giannis, and Emiid are players whose expectations for MVP are less substantial, and the take or actual gamble is a sounder bet. But with the depth of this dangerous West, putting money on a big-time win in the first-rounder against a contender, or getting to the Conference Finals for Dallas? Unless they find a way to add some more firepower around Dončić, this roster is yet another 1st round knockout waiting to happen.


Unlike Jason Tatum in Boston, who will be the focus of the next article in the series, Luka has appeared to have enjoyed his offseason after the Olympics like most of us do…lounging around. Although his game is not predicated on explosive athleticism, he tends to look tired and worn down late in games and especially deep into a series. The recent pictures of him smoking hooka were humorous sure, but his current physical condition did not look like a max-salary athlete ready for war. Because as good as he is and should be, it appears that he does not yet fully comprehend the warzone this Western Conference is. This may be the deepest the NBA has been in a decade with regards to the overall talent of rosters across our 30 teams. The regular season is one thing, but to get through it and collect 16 wins against the best talent in the world who has designed their defenses specifically to slow down the opposing stars, I’m not sure how there can be much faith in Luka coming out of the West just yet.

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