Where the Mavericks went wrong in the 2021 offseason: Can they fix it?

Dallas Mavericks, Jalen Brunson, Luka Doncic
Dallas Mavericks, Jalen Brunson, Luka Doncic / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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The Dallas Mavericks entered the 2021 offseason with the ability to create cap space and dreams of landing a marquee free agent to pair with superstar Luka Doncic. Their rumored top target was Kyle Lowry, but the six-time All-Star decided to go to the Heat in a sign-and-trade. Dallas did all they could and still missed out on the top names, but their front office made mistakes elsewhere.

After striking out on their marquee targets, the Mavericks re-signed Tim Hardaway Jr. to a four-year $75 million contract, brought back Boban Marjanovic, and added Reggie Bullock, Sterling Brown, and Frank Ntilikina. They also opted-in on Willie Cauley-Stein’s final year at $4.2 million.

Dallas made two straight first-round playoff exits, but they pushed the Clippers to seven games in 2021. Owner Mark Cuban and new general manager Nico Harrison put more shooting around Doncic and added a strong perimeter defender in Ntilikina. The Mavs led the league in offensive rating in 2020 with Seth Curry flanking Luka, so adding shooting and defense made sense, but they prioritized the wrong things.

Where did the Dallas Mavericks go wrong in the 2021 offseason?

The Mavs are impossible to stop when Doncic has shooters around him, but Dallas overlooked the moments when the 22-year-old superstar is not on the floor. They outscored the Clippers by seven in Luka’s 281 playoff minutes last season, but LA held a 43-point edge in the 55 minutes he was on the bench. Dallas failed to add a player that can create shots or make plays for others.

Those options were difficult to acquire after the top names, but Dennis Schroder, Alex Caruso, T.J. McConnell, Cameron Payne, Cory Joseph, and Ish Smith all signed for less than Reggie Bullock during the offseason.

Dallas also failed to upgrade at the five and even brought back Cauley-Stein and Marjanovic. The team’s center woes this season are a product of not finding an upgrade on the market, despite plenty of solid options taking less than $4.2 million.

Why was it difficult for Dallas to add another playmaker? How much are they struggling at the five? Can the Mavericks fix the issues moving forward? Let us take a closer look at all three of those questions.