The roster isn’t close to good enough
We already knew this going in, but another playoff series agains the Clippers drove that point home. Luka’s supporting cast just isn’t good enough.
That doesn’t mean these guys are terrible and that I hate them as players. Quite the opposite, actually. Dorian Finney-Smith is a warrior and more than welcome to stick around for the long haul. Tim Hardaway Jr. has proved himself one of the most explosive complimentary scorers in the game and an invaluable tone setter. Maxi Kleber has worked himself into a solid three-and-D big man. I could go on, but you get the point: I like these guys. They’re solid players.
The problem is that solid still isn’t good enough. You’ve got a championship caliber centerpiece in Luka Doncic. He’s proven he’s ready for this. But the other guys have shown that they aren’t, at least in their current role.
That is something that has to change and very soon. Because the way I see it, the Mavericks are wasting greatness.
Rick Carlisle is still a great coach
There seems to be a contingent of Mavericks fans who are calling into questions the merits of Rick Carlisle.
I’ll be the first to admit, he does things I don’t like or understand. Quite a few of them, actually. But there were no answers to the problems presented by the Clippers available on the roster.
Example: The Clippers we’re getting absolutely torched by Tim Hardaway Jr. through two games, Luka had Zubac in hell and they were down 2-0. But their depth & versatility allowed them to completely shift to small ball, where Kawhi freaking Leonard could take Hardaway & Morris/Batum take KP. We all know KP can’t really take advantage of size mismatches and thus, you have the best recipe for defending the Mavericks. Luka might get his, but you shut everyone else’s water off.
The ace up Rick Carlisle’s sleeve? Boban Marjonovic. A nine minute per game player for his career. The combination of Bobi & KP’s size in a zone threw the Clippers rhythm off for a game, but it was never meant to last. And predictably, the dam burst in Game 7.
Some might ask why he didn’t go away from it, but this was the last resort. They had tried other things, they didn’t work. And that’s the point: The tools at his disposal were less than ideal. He shouldn’t be responsible for that.
Donnie Nelson & Mark Cuban should be
If you’re one of the fans that needs to call for someone’s head after a postseason loss, this is the tree you should be barking up.
Not that I am doing that, but the pressure should be on. Mark owns the team, so obviously he’s not going anywhere. That leaves Donnie Nelson, the true architect of this team.
He is the man who brought us Luka. That bought him some goodwill in my eyes, but ironically, Luka’s rapid ascension might be what’s making his seat warm.
77 is ready to compete for titles NOW. Problem is nobody else on the roster is and that lies at Donnie’s feet. The failures in the Summer of 2018 & 2019 have been well documented. He’s got a chance to right those wrongs and build a truly winning roster this Summer, but if he doesn’t, it might be time to move on.