Dallas Mavericks

NBA Season Preview 2019-20: Can Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis lead the Dallas Mavericks back to the playoffs?


With the 2019-20 NBA season quickly approaching, we're rolling out 30 Teams in 30 Days. Between now and opening night, we'll dedicate one day to each team in the league.

Today, we're looking at the Dallas Mavericks.

2018-19 season record

33-49 (14th in the Western Conference)

Projected 2019-20 season record

42-40 (9th in the Western Conference)

Notable additions

Seth Curry (free agency)

Josh Reaves (free agency)

Delon Wright (sign-and-trade)

Antonius Cleveland (free agency)

Boban Marjanovic (free agency)

Isaiah Roby (No. 45 pick, via trade from Detroit Pistons)

Notable departures

Dirk Nowitzki (retired)

Trey Burke (free agency)

Devin Harris (free agency)

Salah Mejri (free agency)

Kostas Antetokounmpo (waived)

Depth Chart

Starter 2nd 3rd 4th
PG Delon Wright Jalen Brunson J.J. Barea
SG Tim Hardaway Jr. Seth Curry Courtney Lee Ryan Broekhoff
SF Luka Doncic Justin Jackson Dorian Finney-Smith
PF Kristaps Porzingis Maxi Kleber Isaiah Roby
C Dwight Powell Boban Marjanovic Aric Holman

3 key storylines

The Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis show

Last season, Mavericks fans got a taste of how electrifying Luka Doncic can be by himself when he won the Rookie of the Year award. In February they were teased with the potential of having Doncic close out the season alongside Kristaps Porzingis, but that didn't happen.

Now, the long wait to see what these two European superstars can do is over.

Doncic will likely build off his 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.0 assists rookie season averages in Year 2 and Porzingis will be itching to remind everyone how good he is on both sides of the ball.

Dallas got a preview of what Doncic and Porzingis will bring offensively right out of the gate in their intrasquad scrimmage.

It's one of many ways Rick Carlisle and his coaching staff will deploy the combo of KP and Luka on opposing defences.

Everything feels like this combination will work. The one thing that could hold it back is Porzingis' health. The former Knick has missed extended periods of time in his four seasons in the NBA, including all of the 2018-19 season. It's part of the reason why New York was so willing to move on from him. The 24-year-old hasn't played in 20 months after tearing his ACL in his left knee, but he's back and bulked up, weighing in at 242 pounds over the summer.

"I feel great physically. I feel 100%. I feel probably better than I ever have in my life," Porzingis told ESPN's Tim MacMahon at media day.

"It's been a long time since I've been out, but I've been putting in work throughout this rehab process. I'm extremely excited to be back on the court and to remind everybody what I'm capable of doing."

Porzingis has to stay healthy for his union with Doncic to meet its full potential.

3-point shooting

The Mavs averaged 36.6 3-point attempts per game last season, which was good for fourth-most in the league. At media day, head coach Rick Carlisle was asked if the Mavericks would shoot even more long balls in 2019-20.

"I don't know if we'll shoot more but if you look at our roster, logic will tell you we'll shoot more," Carlisle responded.

While he didn't exactly say Dallas would be launching even more triples this season, he did mention that this roster is better suited to not only take more 3s but connect on them.

With the additions of Seth Curry, who shot 45% from the land beyond last season, and Porzingis, who shot 40% in his last healthy stretch with the Knicks, Dallas has two more knockdown shooters. Additionally, Doncic expects to shoot better this season from three, Canadian Dwight Powell has now spent the better part of a year working on the long ball and capable shooters Jalen Brunson, Justin Jackson and Maxi Kleber are each expected to have bigger roles with the team.

That's a recipe for the Mavs to be a big-time threat from 3-point range.

Road woes

If Dallas plans on getting back to the playoffs, it has to be better on the road than it was in 2018-19. Only four teams didn't have double-digit road wins last year - Dallas was among them, going a dismal 9-32 away from the American Airlines Center.

The Mavericks will find out what type of team they are away from home early in the season as they have three three-game road trips before the calendar flips to 2020. The Mavericks don't have to be unbeatable on the road, but they do have to be able to win away from the AAC, especially in an uber-competitive Western Conference.

5 games to watch

Oct. 25 at New Orleans Pelicans

Right out of the gate the Mavs will be able to set the tone on the road by spoiling Zion Williamson's home debut. It's an important game within the division as well, as Dallas looks to end its longest playoff drought under Rick Carlisle.

Nov. 1 vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Dallas' first look at the new-look Lakers. The AAC will be rocking as LeBron James and Anthony Davis come to town. It will also be a good early season test to see where the Mavericks stand against a team that has championship aspirations.

Nov. 14 at New York Knicks

It's the Porzingis return game. He's going to be fired up and ready to show the Knicks they should've never traded him. The Garden should be electric for his return.

It's also the last game of a three-game swing that starts in Memphis, rolls through Boston and finishes up in New York. How focused will the team be on the other two games knowing the big one for KP is at the end of the trip?

Dec. 12 at Detroit Pistons - in Mexico City, Mexico

It's technically a road game on the schedule for the Mavericks, but they'll have plenty of fans cheering them on in Mexico City. Luka Doncic has a huge fanbase in Latin America and the Caribbean. This game has the potential to cause a lot of distractions with all the hoopla surrounding it. Can the Mavs stay focused and get a win against a team most will expect them to beat?

Feb. 21 at Orlando Magic

This looks like just another road game on the schedule but it could be more than that. It's the first game for Dallas after the All-Star break. The Mavs will also start the unofficial second half of the season playing six of their first seven on the road.

This is a make or break portion of the schedule for the Mavericks - any stumble out of the All-Star break can be them kissing their playoff hopes goodbye.

A win against the Magic can go a long way.

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