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The Mavericks are winning and people are upset

The Mavericks are winning and people are upset

The Dallas Mavericks may have figured something out.

Heading into Monday’s road matchup with the Spurs (and potentially without the services of Wesley Matthews and Nerlens Noel to go along with Seth Curry and Josh McRoberts), Dallas has seemingly found the right combination of things that are working after 16 games of mostly futile effort.

With three wins in their last four games (with the only loss coming after a missed buzzer-beater against the Celtics), Dallas is suddenly 5-15 and not the worst team, record-wise, in the NBA.

This is apparently cause for alarm among some segments of the Mavericks’ fan base because Dallas isn’t, you know, “tanking” (read: “trying to lose).

Can we pause for a minute to realize just how absurd this take is?

Firstly, most Mavericks fans agree they want to see Dennis Smith Jr. get adequate playing time and ample opportunity to play and make meaningful contributions in games. He’s averaging around 28 minutes a night, so we’re good there. So, you want him to drop 20 and 10, but for Dallas to lose?

Harrison Barnes is just as key to the Mavericks’ youth movement as Smith. He’s just 25 and has blossomed into a great scoring threat and is maturing and improving with every game. His playing time is not an issue.

Both of these guys were instrumental in Dallas’ win over Oklahoma City, the blowout win over the free-falling Bucks and the clutch win at Memphis. So … why are some bemoaning that “these wins are pointless?”

“Tanking” is one of my least favorite terms in the NBA lexicon today simply because it implies that a franchise, in order to rebuild, simply needs to deliberately lose games, not give a whit about the damage that does not only to your players but to your fan base, then you’ll magically hit on all of your now-high draft picks and in five years, bam! You’re playoff ready.

It’s nowhere near that simple.

The Mavericks have been open about their strategy of “organic tanking” dating back to last year when Mark Cuban announced Dallas, then out of playoff contention after a valiant fight back from a 4-17 start, would be following to get their younger players valuable minutes and for the staff to evaluate prospects heading into the offseason.

Organic tanking implies playing lesser players with every intent to win the game at hand. It does not imply losing on purpose.

If Smith, Barnes and the other Mavericks’ younger players are contributing to Dallas actually improving in certain categories while winning games in the regular season, this is what it’s all about. You don’t deprive your players, young or old, the chance to legitimately compete because of a draft lottery pipe dream.

Chuck Cooperstein and @mavstats recently shared these gems about Dallas’ recent play on Twitter:

These revelations are happening with Dallas’ kids playing and that’s the whole point! You want to see the Mavericks’ youth movement paying dividends even if it means moving further away from a top-5 pick in the 2018 draft and a shot at Marvin Bagley.

Smith himself said he wants to make the playoffs at the beginning of this season.

If you want to see Dallas lose every game to “build toward the future” but in doing so, you deprive the very core of that youth movement his main goal, then what kind of a rebuild is that?

I'm Zack Cunningham, a broadcast journalism major from Abilene Christian University's class of 2008. I've lived in Texas for 28 of my 31 years on this Earth and I've followed the Mavericks since 1998. My first memory of them was the 2001 playoffs and being extremely happy when they beat the Jazz, but sad when they lost to the Spurs in five games in the conference semifinals. However, seeing Dirk drop 42 stands out to me, punctuated by his dunk in garbage time. I covered high school sports for the Cleburne Times-Review from 2008-12 before moving into the tech industry. Most recently, in 2015 covered the Mavericks for the Fanatic briefly before moving to work with Mike Fisher at I am married to my beautiful wife, Jessica, and have been for just over five years now. We live in Carrollton with our dog, Zara, and cat, Drake. I'm looking forward to covering them again this season with the Fanatic!

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