Dallas Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban appeared on Julius ‘Dr. J’ Erving’s first podcast to talk about the direction his team will take the rest of the season.
Mark Cuban appeared on the great Julius Erving’s podcast over the weekend to discuss life, politics, basketball and of course the Dallas Mavericks. Towards the end of the podcast episode, Cuban had some interesting things to say:
"“I just had dinner with a bunch of our guys the other night. Here we are, we weren’t competing for the playoffs. I said look, losing is our best option. At least I sat down and I explained it to them. And I explained what our plans are gonna be this summer. That we are not gonna tank again. This is like a year and a half of tanking and that is too brutal for me” -Cuban"
For those unfamiliar with the term, tanking refers to the act of a team deliberately positioning themselves for better draft odds at the end of the season as opposed to doing everything they can to win each game.
So what does this mean going forward? The Mavericks are going to give increased opportunity to their younger players. The developing prospects (Smith Jr., Barnes, Ferrell, Kleber, etc.) can be expected to close out any close games in the future.
The veterans (Dirk, Matthews, Barea) will probably receive more games off to rest as the season goes on. Finally, younger players that haven’t gotten as much run up to this point (Jonathan Motley, Kyle Collinsworth, Jalen Jones) will most likely see extended minutes.
What tanking does not mean is intentional losing. The Mavericks players are still going to give 100% every time they are on the floor. The Mavericks will still win games going forward, don’t expect them to finish the season 0-24.
This decision must be put into the context of the upcoming draft class. The 2018 NBA Draft Class is being heralded as potentially one of the strongest collections of talent this decade. Where last year’s class excelled in-depth, this one looks to be distinguished at the very top.
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At this point, seven players seem to have done enough to separate themselves from the pack. Those seven are: the guards Luka Doncic and Trae Young, the bigs Jaren Jackson Jr., DeAndre Ayton, Marvin Bagley, and Mo Bamba, and the injured wing Michael Porter Jr..
Landing any of these seven players gives a team a realistic shot at a franchise cornerstone. Many of those prospects have a chance to be bonafide superstars. One or two might even be faces of the league someday.
Because landing a top 5 pick in this upcoming draft could be franchise-altering, the decision for Cuban and the rest of the Mavericks staff to begin tanking so early makes a lot of logical sense.
The Dallas Mavericks were lucky enough to have Dennis Smith Jr. fall into their laps last summer, but this year they’d likely be better served to pick sooner than pick number nine again.
Losing is tough. As Cuban said earlier in that podcast, “It feels worse to lose than it feels good to win.” Ideally the Mavericks younger players will continue to develop, the team will land the player they want most in the draft, and Dirk will stick around at least one more year for a playoff push.
As Cuban said, we will not tank next year. Let’s quickly rebuild by getting Junior a running mate for the future and get back to winning basketball. NBA title-contending basketball. Mavericks basketball.