Mavericks' 3 biggest wildcard players for 2023-24 season

Sep 29, 2023; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Olivier-Maxence Prosper (18) poses for a
Sep 29, 2023; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Olivier-Maxence Prosper (18) poses for a / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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The Dallas Mavericks enter a vital season of the Luka Doncic era in Dallas.

Success is a must, and if there are any hiccups throughout the regular season, Doncic could force his way out. There have already been signals hinting towards Doncic potentially being disgruntled with the Mavs front office. But with a resembled roster surrounding the team's young superstar, there is hope things could change.

The additions of Dereck Lively II and Olivier-Maxence Prosper will bolster a much-improved defense.

Mavericks' 3 biggest wildcard players for 2023-24 season

The signings of Derrick Jones Jr. and Dante Exum will ensure an improved defense and bring much-needed athleticism to a team that desperately lacks both defense and athleticism.

However, the big splash of the offseason for the Mavericks was trading for Grant Williams. Williams will bring a fresh voice to the defensive end of the floor along with vocal leadership in the starting lineup.

Nonetheless, one important factor seems to be missing from this Mavericks roster.

A common trend you see among the best teams is a wildcard player who emerges and has a bigger role than expected. The Golden State Warriors had multiple wildcard players but none played better than Shawn Livingston. Livingston played with the Warriors from 2014-2019 and had some spectacular moments.

The Mavericks have three potential candidates who could become that breakout player and play better than fans expect. It's extremely important that at least one of these candidates sticks out from the rest.

3. Jaden Hardy

Jaden Hardy enters a critical year two with the Mavericks. For many fans, Hardy could have been labeled a wildcard player just last season, but with some recent Mav signings, Hardy's role looks to have been diminished.

Throughout four preseason affairs, it's clear to see Hardy hasn't taken a day off during his long offseason. Fans have already seen a much-improved offensive game out of Hardy, he has shown flashes of a vastly improved handle and decision-making when it comes to his play on the court.

Hardy has continued to work on his defense as well under Mavs assistant coach Sean Sweeney. However, the last two preseason games have proved costly for Hardy. He would go on to shoot an inefficient 9/21 and 3/9 from the field in both outings.

In addition, the signing of both Dante Exum and Seth Curry during the offseason clouds what Hardy's expected role could have been. Hardy could emerge out of the pack and be a consistent 15-20-minute player this season, but it has yet to be seen.

Most recently, Hardy was diagnosed with a sprained ankle. This is undoubtedly an ill-timed injury as we get closer to the start of the regular season.