Can Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving be the cornerstones of a title contender?

Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving
Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving / Sam Hodde/GettyImages
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The Dallas Mavericks were feeling the pressure of a disappointing season when they traded for Kyrie Irving in early February. They were fresh off a trip to the conference finals, and Luka Doncic is on pace to be an all-time great. The Mavs did not want to waste a year of Luka’s greatness, and Kyrie was the best available player that Dallas had the assets to acquire.

When they made the trade on Feb. 5, Doncic and company were two games over .500 and looking to make a push further up the standings. It felt like the Mavericks could easily jump into the top four in the Western Conference and be primed for another playoff run.

Instead, Dallas is three games under .500 with five left in the regular season and 11th in the Western Conference. They are in danger of missing the postseason entirely and basically need to make up two games over the final five because the Thunder hold the tiebreaker. Injuries played a factor, but the Mavs have been bad when both Luka and Kyrie are in the lineup. Can they be the lead duo of a contender?

Early returns from the Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving duo are not strong

The Mavs are 4-9 in the first 13 games that Doncic and Irving have played together. Detroit, San Antonio, and Houston are the only three teams with a worse winning percentage this season than that 30.7 percent. It is a small sample, and there have been strong numbers produced in some cases, but the same problems keep popping up.

The defense has gone from bad to worse. Dallas is the worst rebounding team in the NBA. Their offense stalls out in the fourth quarter, despite having two future Hall of Famers and elite scorers leading their charge. There is little flow, ball movement, or chemistry. There is plenty of blame to go around, and some of it must go to Luka and Kyrie.

Here are four things that must happen if the Dallas Mavericks are going to build a title contender around Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.