1. Improved defense surrounding the duo
As previously mentioned, the defense was poor a season ago and especially bad following the trade. The Mavs allowed triple-digit points in every contest following the mid-season blockbuster.
To make matters worse, Dallas only allowed less than 110 points three times after February 6. The defense and rebounding were truly abysmal.
The Mavs allowed the fifteenth most points per game but played at the third-slowest pace in the league. The offense didn't give much room for error, nor allow for any second chances as Dallas recorded the least offensive rebounds in the association a season ago.
Additionally, the Mavs managed to record a poor defensive rating, the seventh worst in the NBA. Only two teams to rank in the bottom 10 in defensive ratings made the playoffs. And neither team advanced past the first round.
The defensive revival first occurred during the NBA Draft. Dallas drafted defensive anchor, Dereck Lively II, with the twelfth overall selection. In only 20.6 minutes of game time, Lively II averaged an astounding 2.4 blocks per game as a freshman at Duke.
Later in the first round, the Mavs selected Marquette forward Olivier-Maxence Prosper with the 24th overall selection. Prosper is a high-energy player who can defend multiple positions due to his fantastic athleticism and physical profile.
Next, Dallas added forward Grant Williams via sign-and-trade from Boston. Williams ranked in the top 55 in most defensive metrics. Including defensive win shares, defensive box plus/minus, and a top-25 finish in defensive rating.
With Williams in the fold, Dallas finally has a player capable of defending up to three positions. Williams has the strength to cover bigs and the foot speed to defend some guards.
Despite fielding such a poor defense last season, the Mavs' defense resembled a dominant one in 2021-22. Perhaps the previous season was an aberration, and the Mavs will return to form this upcoming season.
We'll have you covered with all the latest news on Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, and the Dallas Mavericks this season, so stay tuned.