Dallas Mavericks: Why this is the most important season in the rebuild

Dallas Mavericks Luka Doncic DeAndre Jordan Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)
Dallas Mavericks Luka Doncic DeAndre Jordan Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Dallas Mavericks are positioned to be competitive, but considering their long-term outlook, this is the most important season in their rebuild.

The Dallas Mavericks made quite a statement when they added Luka Doncic on the draft night and parted ways with what will likely be a high draft pick in 2019. Doncic and Dennis Smith Jr. are one of the more intriguing combinations of young talent in the NBA. With veterans Harrison Barnes and DeAndre Jordan in the picture, the Mavs could win 40 games in 2018.

While that doesn’t sound like a lot, that is quite an achievement in the Western Conference. Rick Carlisle’s roster is no longer one of the league’s weakest, and should be able to eek out enough wins to potentially even compete for a playoff berth.

All about Luka and DSJ

But without question, this season is about Luka Doncic and Dennis Smith Jr. Smith Jr. flashed extreme potential in his rookie season, but clearly has a long way to go before he can be considered one of the league’s premier rising stars. Smith Jr. needs to develop a better jump shot, and can’t be the liability he was on the defensive end last year.

Luka Doncic had himself a pretty impressive preseason. He was active on the defensive end, swatting some shots at the rim on help rotations and doing a better-than-anticipated job defending on the perimeter. Doncic’s handle on the offensive end needs work, but he has already exhibited elite passing skills and a respectable outside jump shot.

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Dennis Smith Jr. and Luka Doncic need to have themselves a big first season together in order to thrust the Mavericks back on the right track. Smith Jr. was the first piece, but now with Doncic in the picture, it’s time for the Mavs to begin to focus on winning games.

Without their first round pick next year, DeAndre Jordan will hopefully make the Mavericks tougher to beat inside. The Mavs suddenly have considerably more length on the court than they did last year. Doncic can play up to four positions at 6”8, while Jordan can push Harrison Barnes back to his natural position at small forward.

The Mavs will begin to get a true sense of what their potential is this coming season when they get both Dennis Smith Jr. and Luka Doncic on the court together. Such a combination of young, talented, and experienced players are rare, and combining them with multiple savvy veterans is even rarer.

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The Mavs struggled in their first test, but it is a long season.  Hopefully, Smith Jr. and Doncic hit the ground running in the home opener on Saturday against the Minnesota Timberwolves.