And the Dallas Mavericks are at .500. Again. And it seems their inability to become more than just a good team and make some sort of impact in the playoffs is going to be part of their M.O for this postseason (if they even make it) and next season as well. The attempt to build a championship team in the final years of Dirk Nowitzki on a court is failing miserably.
The Mavericks lost at home to the Indiana Pacers, marking their first streak of five losses or more since the 2012-2013 season, the first and only time they missed the playoffs in the last 15 years. Dirk Nowitzki has actually been the best player on the team over the last five games, averaging 24.6 points while shooting 54.7% from the field, like it’s five or six years ago. But everything around him is disappointing, inconsistent or simply bad.
The Mavericks are now 8th in the West, which fits the preseason expectations and predictions a lot more than them hovering around the 4-5 seeds for most of the season. They’re only 18th defensively this season while their offense, as usual, is good, but not special: 11th in offensive efficiency. The revolving door of bargain free agents and good, not special and expensive gambles is keeping the Mavericks stuck at the ground level or the first floor at best (Depends on your metaphor) since winning the NBA championship in 2011.
This is an old team, with the young players like Dwight Powell and Justin Anderson being garbage time guys, and not the kind of players that seem like they’re going to be a cornerstone for the Mavs anytime soon. Neglecting the draft for years hits you at some point when you’re also unwilling to go over the luxury tax. The luxury tax was why Cuban broke up his championship team slowly but surely in 2011. Once the potential punishments became too much for him, he no longer looked like a brilliant owner who knows a lot about basketball. Cuban pre 2011, who inherited a team with Steve Nash, Michael Finley and Nowitzki, isn’t the same one he is today. The Mavericks rely on finding that one piece in free agency that turns the franchise around, but they keep settling for something else.
No one swings and misses for the big names like Dallas during the summer. Even DeAndre Jordan, who was on his way to the team, eventually got turned around by the Clippers holding him hostage in a house, and all of the Mavericks plans for this season fell apart. Deron Williams? Wesley Matthews? Zaza Pachulia? Those aren’t bad players, but once again, this leaves too much in the hands of Chandler Parsons, who is a very good 3rd, 2.5 option to have on a team, and a Nowitzki that’s getting closer and closer to 40.
The Rajon Rondo didn’t help. It leaves the Mavericks with no draft pick in 2016 unless it falls into the top 7, and it won’t happen. Tanking is horrendous and bad for the league. It’s good the Mavericks aren’t going there. But their attempts to build a championship team while ignoring player development and giving the top free agents zero incentive to sign with them eventually leads to finger pointing at Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban, who broke up a championship team, regrets it and doesn’t have the knowledge to put one together again before Nowitzki retires, although maybe once he does, the “healing” can begin for Dallas.