1. Now that the season has come to an end, how would you rate this year for the Mavericks? Success? Disappointing?
Konkle: A resounding success. The goal this year was about making the postseason in a loaded Western Conference. I’m not sure anybody would have called that a sure thing before the year, but fueled by the brilliance of Luka, Porzingis, and the hardworking extras they got it done. Getting our first look at the abilities of Playoff Luka was just the cherry on top.
Duell: Absolutely a success. I definitely thought the team was going to make the postseason before the season because I knew that a full season of them trying (which they only did for half of last season) plus the addition of Porzingis would help them easily eclipse 33 wins and much more, but I am definitely pleased by where they finished. You have to improve year-to-year in your journey to championship contention and they certainly took a major step forward this season.
Mulford: You can easily mark this season as a success for the Mavericks. The ultimate goal was to end their postseason drought, which they did. And with a few more wins, they could’ve easily found themselves as high as the third seed in the West. Despite losing in the first round, giving Luka and KP their first taste of the playoffs certainly increases their hunger to make as serious run next season.
2. Luka looked to take another while in the bubble. Where would you rank him amongst the league’s top players?
Konkle: I think he’s no doubt in the top 10. Id consider him in a tier with Dame, AD, and Jokic, right in the 7-10 range, but there is no doubt that one day and one day soon, he will be in the conversation for the best in the world.
Duell: I get kind of tired of the top 5, top 10, top 15 ranking of players because it literally just shifts with whatever the narrative is that week. Last Sunday when Luka nailed a buzzer beater to sink the Clippers in game four, he was a top five player in the league. Over the next few weeks as the playoffs continue without him, guys like Anthony Davis, Pascal Siakam, Paul George and a few others could be so amazing in helping their teams advance that they could shoot up into the top five players arena according to a few. Overall, I believe Luka’s sophomore season was incredible enough to have him in the top ten players in the league, hands down. No matter what the story is that week. You have to have one of those players to legitimately contend for a championship, so Mavs fans should be elated they have one going forward.
Mulford: You can argue Luka currently sits anywhere between top 5-10. Not only did he show that before the hiatus, but his play only seemed to heighten when the Mavs entered the bubble and the postseason. Of course, this type of question is all subjective but it’s becoming evidently clear that you can’t deny the path that Luka is on, which is a future MVP and best player on the planet.
3. What’s your concern level for KP’s health going forward and what role do you ultimately see him in? Second option? Third?
Konkle: I would say I’m moderately concerned about KP’s health. It’s funny, Luka’s playoff performance seemed to amplify those worries for me, because I think their title window will be open as early as next season. That’s how good he is, and every minute, game, month, or season lost because of injury is time wasted.
KP is a tantalizing talent, there is no doubt about it. But his physique and injury history are what they are. Can he be your co-star? Absolutely. But do you probably need a third guy who is likely very dependable/durable? Probably so.
Duell: I agree with Reese on this one. He can for sure be a second banana whenever he’s healthy. He scored 34 points and grabbed 13 boards in the last game he played this season (while injured). He made it through this season without another catastrophic injury like an ACL, but it certainly wasn’t a breeze. You can probably only pencil him in for about 60 or 65 games a season and that’s unfortunate considering how huge his contract is. You’ll definitely need a third offensive star to carry the scoring load throughout the long regular season.
Mulford: You’d be foolish to not have some sort of concern about KP’s injury history. With his stature and style of play, it’s definitely something to be cautious of going forward. As far as his role on the Mavericks going forward, KP can for sure be your second option when healthy but as Reese said, would it be beneficial to have another second-tier option alongside KP, just in case? Absolutely.
4. What additions to this current team do you see fit for the Mavs to take another step next season? Any specific type of player?
Konkle: There are a lot of ways the Mavericks can take their offseason. They can bank on internal development and look to swing big in the Summer of 2021, they can be cautious buyers with a dry market this offseason, or they can cash in the chips they have looking for a third star.
Regardless, this team needs to add toughness and defense, on the perimeter in particular.
I also think they need to address the lack of a secondary creator or ball handler. That was an issue that reared it’s ugly head at times this season and especially in the postseason. That could mean swinging big on an Oladipo/Holiday type player. Guys that are two-way guards who can create, but are likely better suited as a secondary. Or it could mean a smaller, less-risky acquisition.
Either way, this team badly needs two-way guys. The most efficient offense of all time is great, but if you want to win titles, you have to get it done at the other end as well. This offseason is their first chance to put that into practice.
Duell: Again, agree with Reese here. They need defense and some edge. All Rick Carlisle talked about all season long was improving defensively and it just never happened, so that’s a personnel problem. There are a ton of fan favorites on the supporting cast of this team, but they’ll definitely have to be available if the team looks to make any significant upgrades this offseason based on their cap situation. I also wouldn’t be shocked to see them play it pretty conservatively and bank on improved health next season because who knows how differently their record could have been if they had Dwight Powell and Jalen Brunson for the final stretch of the season.
Mulford: Isn’t it great when we all agree? But yes, let’s face it, they need a goon on this team. They need a guy who not only defends and hustles his ass off but can also knock down open threes and isn’t afraid to get scrappy. Adding some toughness and defensive help is always a plus and certainly needed for this Dallas team. A player, coincidentally enough, like the Morris brother’s or former Maverick Jae Crowder, would be an ideal fit for the Mavs.
In the grand scheme of things, overhauling this roster or making a big move shouldn’t be in the cards for Dallas this offseason. Health is also an obvious factor for the Mavericks as they were missing Dwight Powell and Jalen Brunson for the second half of the season.
The majority of the roster is under contract for next season and I’d be shocked if THJ didn’t pick up his player option of almost $19 million dollars. Saving that cap space for 2021 where the free agency class is a gold mine is ideal for Donnie Nelson and company.
5. Early prediction: where do you see the Mavericks next season? Contender? One piece away?
Konkle: I think there is an avenue for them to become legit title contenders as soon as next year, but by all accounts it will be a conservative offseason for them, so I predict they will be “fringe” contenders. In the mold of teams like Denver, Houston, Miami, etc…
With that likely comes the burden of expectation, but Donnie, Mark, and co. Surely have some tricks up their sleeve. I look forward to seeing what steps they take to improve the squad.
Duell: If they bring virtually the same team back, I can still see them getting better and being comfortably in the top four of the West next season based just on development and maturity as a unit that now has some battles they’ve been through together. I don’t think that would make them a legit contender though, just in a good position to win their first playoff series since they won it all in 2011.
If they were to surprisingly take a big swing somewhere, all bets are off. If it’s the right guy, it could push them right up to the Lakers/Clippers level. If it’s the wrong guy, it could mean a step back and still fighting for the 7th or 8th seed in a loaded Western Conference.
Mulford: Health permitting and obviously disregarding any potential big moves, I’d predict the Mavericks to be in the 3-6 range of the Western Conference with chances of being real contenders as early as next season. When you have a player as great as Luka with the right pieces around him, anything is possible. It’s only up from here for Dallas.
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