The Dallas Mavericks wrapped up their preseason trip last week after a narrow loss to Real Madrid.
Dallas' preseason started just a few days before in Abu Dhabi, as they had two games against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Mavs lost both of these games, but Dallas saw some bright spots from certain players that were encouraging.
Dereck Lively II looks more like a starting center every day, Dante Exum is showing that he can lead the second unit, and Grant Williams has been a force defensively.
Mavericks star Luka Doncic steps up as a leader on preseason trip
Along with those encouraging showings, there have also been some confusing moves such as Dallas waiving Mike Miles Jr. The Mavs signed Miles Jr. to a two-way contract on draft night, but he didn't play in any of Dallas' first three preseason games.
Along with all of this, Dallas got some unfortunate news as both of their star players Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving are battling injuries. Irving's injury (groin soreness) seems to have gotten better as he practiced on Monday, but Doncic's calf strain is a bit concerning.
Although Doncic suffered a minor injury on the preseason trip, he stepped up tremendously as a leader. According to a report by NBA Insider Marc Stein (subscription required), "Dončić hosted a players-only dinner in both Abu Dhabi and Madrid as well as a post-game soirée in Madrid to bring the group together on multiple occasions."
This is a great sign for Dallas and Luka, as they've needed him to step up as a leader for some time now, and spending time together on this trip was crucial. Mavs head coach Jason Kidd listed chemistry as one of the biggest things that Dallas needed to work on this offseason at the end of last season, and the dinners and soiree planned by Luka are a great start.
The on-court chemistry will still take more time, as Dallas is said to be "starting over with Monday's practice," according to Stein.
For all the latest news on Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, and the Dallas Mavericks this season, stay tuned.