The Dallas Mavericks have begun the preseason with two straight losses. And seemingly, Dallas is still figuring out who will start and which lineups work best.
Initially, Dallas started the two rookies, Olivier-Maxence Prosper and Dereck Lively II, alongside three veterans, Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, and Grant Williams.
After every starter finished with a plus/minus worse than minus-nine in the first game, the Mavs switched it up for game two in Abu Dhabi. Dallas started Doncic, Williams, and Lively II once again. However, as Irving sat out, Dallas substituted Jaden Hardy in at the other guard spot while also including Josh Green in this lineup.
The best starting lineup for the Mavericks has emerged
Although Hardy played well, the other starting guard spot isn't up for grabs. The remaining two spots feel relatively open with Doncic, Williams, and Irving as the only starters truly locked in.
Dallas has started newly-acquired forward Williams in both games, so his spot does feel safe as he provides spot-up shooting and hard-nosed defense. Unlike Prosper, who started the first game, Williams is more of a threat on offense.
Over the first two games, Prosper has gone only 2-13 from the field. And to make matters worse, Prosper has missed on all seven of his 3-point attempts. The former Marquette Golden Eagle looks playable due to his high motor, but he may be better suited coming off the bench to begin his career.
Instead of Prosper, Jason Kidd started Green, who started in a handful of games a season ago. Green was impressive in his first exhibition game, albeit in limited action. He was one of the few Mavs with a positive plus/minus in the first contest.
The Australian wing parlayed his efficient first game into a starting role. Once again, Green played well in the second game. He only scored six points, but he knocked down two 3-pointers and finished as the only starter with a positive plus/minus.
Four of the starters seem set going forward, but the center spot is up for grabs. Dallas started the rookie Lively II in both contests. The former Blue Devil showed promise, as he connected with Doncic on a lob and displayed elite interior defense by blocking a combined four shots.
Lively II's competition left much to be desired in the first two contests. Former starter, Dwight Powell, averaged 3.5 points, 1.0 rebounds, and 0.5 blocks per game. Powell provides good energy, but doesn't project to be a starter.
On the other hand, Richaun Holmes, who came over via trade, didn't provide a big spark in either contest. He's only made one of four shot attempts thus far. But, he did block a shot and record multiple rebounds in each affair.
Dallas hasn't played particularly well so far, but they get the chance for retribution in Spain on Tuesday, against Doncic's former squad, Real Madrid.
Look for the Mavs to trot out Doncic, Irving (if available), Green, Williams, and Lively II in this contest. These five seem to give Dallas the best chance to win. The backcourt provides more than enough offense, the wings yield premier defense, and the center cleans up everything within his vicinity.
Be sure to tune in on Tuesday, September 10 at 1:45 p.m. CT, as Dallas squares off against Real Madrid.