The Dallas Mavericks finished fourth in the Western Conference last season before winning two playoff series to reach the conference finals. They lost to eventual champion Golden State Warriors after an impressive run. It was the first playoff series by the Mavs since winning the title in 2011, and Luka Doncic made his case for best player in the league by leading his team deep in the postseason.
The Mavericks are focused on getting back and going further this season. They lost Jalen Brunson in free agency, but the team upgraded their frontcourt by trading for Christian Wood and signing JaVale McGee. Dallas believes they can improve on the defensive end of the floor, and never count out number 77.
ESPN released stat-based projections (subscription required) for the 2022-2023 regular season on Sept. 29, and it had the Mavericks in a surprising position. Here is a closer look.
Dallas Mavericks land in a surprising position in ESPN stat-based projections
The model projected the Mavs to average 43.1 wins per season, which was the seventh-highest total in the conference. Dallas won 52 games last year, and they made an unexpected run to the conference finals. No model projected any of that, so all of this should be taken with a grain of salt.
The model projected the Pelicans, Timberwolves, and Grizzlies to all finish ahead of Dallas. New Orleans is expected to get Zion Williamson back from injury, but they finished 16 games worse than Dallas last season. To have New Orleans third in the West was surprising, but stranger things have happened in the NBA.
It would be shocking to see the Mavs in the play-in tournament. Luka Doncic is just too good. He is a walking 50-win season, and the 23-year-old is motivated to make an MVP push this season. Expect Dallas to be back in the top four in the loaded conference and be ready for another deep postseason run.
Where do you think the Dallas Mavericks will finish in the Western Conference? Let us know in the comment section.