The Dallas Mavericks progressed to the Western Conference finals last season but lost out in five games to eventual champions Golden State Warriors.
The Mavs showed signs of real improvement under new coach Jason Kidd, a member of their 2011 championship winning team, and they will be looking to progress further in the season ahead.
Dallas claimed fourth seed in the West, their best regular season finish since winning the championship and reached the conference finals for the fifth time in their history, but this is perhaps a team who are still a work in progress and it remains to be seen as to whether or not they can match last season’s exploits in 2022-23.
|What||NBA Season 2022/23|
|Where||USA, Canada, Mexico and France|
|When||18th October 2022 - June 2023|
|How to watch||Sky Sports, NBA Pass, bet365 Sports Live Streaming|
|Odds||GS Warriors 6/1, BOS Celtics 6/1, LA Clippers 13/2, MIL Bucks 13/2, BKN Nets 7/1|
The trend in the NBA in recent years for teams with championship aspirations has been building ‘super teams’ by bringing together three or four star players for an assault on the title.
In some respects, Dallas are a bit of a throwback as their whole team is geared towards getting the best out of Luka Doncic, a three-time All-Star after four seasons in the league and one of the frontrunners for this year’s MVP award.
Doncic is clearly one of the elite players in the league as he averaged 28.4 points-per-game, 9.1 rebounds and 8.7 assists in the last regular season - then improved on his points and rebounds in the playoffs.
However, even great players need a strong supporting cast if they are to guide a team all the way to the title and Dallas will need a few others to step up if they are to mount a genuine challenge.
Milwaukee Bucks won the championship in 2021 thanks largely to two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, for example, but he had Khris Middleton and Jrue Holliday as team-mates and the Mavs perhaps don’t have that kind of support for Doncic, who led the team in points rebounds and assists in 10 of their 15 playoff games last term.
Dallas opted against bringing in too many new faces during the offseason, with centers JaVale McGee and Christian Wood their only notable additions.
This isn’t necessarily a huge surprise as they have plenty of time to build a team around 23-year-old Doncic, and they still have quality throughout their roster even if they do rely heavily on one star man.
Doncic will largely operate as the point guard but he could also be deployed as a forward. Tim Hardaway Jr. looks the most likely partner for Doncic in the backcourt, with Dorian Finney-Smith, Reggie Bullock and McGee completing their probably starting line-up.
Hardaway missed the latter half of last season with a foot injury and his return should provide a boost, but he isn’t a prolific scorer.
Dallas have a strong defensive team but they will be relying on Doncic heavily in offense, and that means they may well fall short against the best teams.
The Mavs did manage to upset top seeds the Phoenix Suns in seven games in the conference semifinals last season but circumstances worked in their favour to a degree.
Doncic was in electric form during that series and the whole Suns team faded, and they were then brought back down to earth by the Warriors in the next round.
Dallas may well be able to claim a top six seed in the West again this season but they are likely to struggle in a best-of-seven match-up against more balance teams like the Dubs, the Suns and the Los Angeles Clippers.
Dallas start the season with four tough games and they open the campaign with a trip to the Suns, who will be looking for revenge after last year’s playoffs defeat.
Kidd’s team then face two conference rivals who were involved in the playoffs last season as they take on Memphis Grizzlies (h) and New Orleans Pelicans (a), before a trip to Brooklyn Nets.
After reaching the conference finals last season the pressure will be on Dallas to match that but in reality claiming a top six seed in a highly-competitive West should be the main goal.
If Doncic does have an MVP season Dallas will be contenders and could beat any rival in a one-off game, but they probably need to bring in one or two high-quality additions if they are to be serious challengers for overall glory.Safer Gambling Week (17-23 October) – Let’s talk about safer gambling. Click here for more information on independent resources. Gamble Responsibly.