The Dallas Mavericks 2016-2017 season has only 13 games remaining. With the playoffs still being a possibility, we rounded up some of our staff writers to see how they think the race for the 8-seed will turn out. They also give their takes on the Mavs sacrificing draft position by “going for it,” as well as which former Maverick (other than Dirk) should have his number hanging from the AAC rafters. Enjoy!
Realistically, there are 4 teams fighting for the 8-seed out West: Mavs, Nuggets, Blazers and T-Wolves. Who ends up getting that final playoff spot?
Dalton Trigg: Denver has played pretty good basketball lately, going 7-3 in their last 10 games. However, Portland is only one game behind Denver for the 8-seed, and they’re playing just as good, if not better basketball than the Nuggets, going 8-2 over their last 10 games. I think the final playoff spot will be determined on March 28th, when Denver travels to Portland for a pivotal game.
I’m usually a really optimistic fan, but I’m also realistic. The Mavs still have a chance to make the playoffs, but there is hardly any margin for error left. Dallas is currently 3 games behind Denver with only 13 more games to go in the season. Combine that with the fact that the Mavs upcoming 4-game home stand features the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Toronto Raptors and Oklahoma City Thunder, and you can start to see how the window of opportunity could be slammed shut sooner than later.
This is a fun Mavs team, and I’ve enjoyed watching the young guys produce this season. I’ll hope for a little more Rick Carlisle magic down the stretch, but for now I’m paying a lot more attention to potential Mavs draft prospects in the NCAA Tournament. This year’s draft is so deep that you’ve got super-talented guys like Malik Monk and Dennis Smith Jr. as a real possibility for Dallas.
Michael DuPont: At face value, Denver appears to be running away with the eighth seed. But the Nuggets next few games include matchups with the Houston Rockets and a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
A quick look at the stats shows Denver has not struggled to establish an identity. The Nuggets are third in points per game (111). Despite being 27th in points allowed (110.7), Denver also manages to rack up the third most assists per game (24.9) while hauling in the most rebounds, including 12.3 offensive rebounds per game.
While the Mavericks have a very realistic chance of playing their way into the final playoff spot, the deck appears to be stacked against Dallas. Rick Carlisle’s bunch is 10-24 on the road this season with 7 more road contests remaining on the season, including games against
By acquiring Jusef Nurkic on a very team-friendly contract, the Trail Blazers have ensured that they have tools to continue adding around the backcourt rotation of C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard. Portland is only one game behind Denver and the Trail Blazers are the only team from the group with a winning record in their division. There are three more matchups scheduled against division rival, Minnesota and another matchup with Denver. The race for third place in the Northwest division could easily determine our eighth playoff seed.
Greg Higgins: Denver is playing great basketball right now. They’re 7-3 in their last 10 games. They have a one-game lead over Portland and three over the Mavs. Right now, I would say it’s the Nuggets to lose.
That being said, though, the next few games could tell us a lot more. The second game of a home-and-home series with the Houston Rockets and then a game against King James and the Cavs could go a long way in sealing their playoff spot.
Might want to go ahead and circle the next to last game on the schedule too. April 11th at the American Airlines Center. Who knows. Could be the Mavs and Nuggets are playing for the final playoff spot.
Say the Mavs continue to play as well as they have lately, yet it’s still not enough and they do miss the playoffs. What feeling would be stronger? Disappointment over the Mavs draft pick position, or excitement for the future with these young guys playing meaningful games (aka, not tanking)?
Dalton Trigg: As stated earlier, this year’s draft class is going to be loaded with talent, especially in the lottery. If the Mavs want a potential game-changing point guard, chances are they’ll be able to draft one this year if they miss the playoffs. I like that the Mavs chose to go for it. That speaks a lot about the overall culture of the organization, and shows future free agent prospects that we’ll always try to win.
So to answer the question, I’ll be more excited for the future of our young guys. It’d be different if a lot of these guys were on 1-year deals, but a lot of them will be around next season and beyond, barring a trade. So having these guys playing meaningful games, in my opinion, is the right choice and will help Dallas a ton going into next season. Nothing is guaranteed in the NBA Draft, so the Mavs are smart for laying the right foundation for the guys they already have.
Michael DuPont: This will be determined with time. The knee-jerk reaction will be to celebrate the budding talents and look toward the future. Seth Curry has found his fit in Dallas, and the Mavericks seem to have a formula for grooming talent from the summer and developmental leagues. Dallas has found production in Curry, Yogi Ferrell and Dorian Finney-Smith, all three of which were undrafted free agents.
On the other hand, if you need a franchise-changing guard this appears to be the draft to find one. It’s unlikely that Markelle Fultz, Dennis Smith, Lonzo Ball, De’Aaron Fox or Malik Monk will be available at nine or ten (if they are, PULL THE TRIGGER), but there’s been much interest in another available guard, Frank Ntilikina, who many Mavs fans should be wary of. It’s very much in the makeup of the Mavs to look for European talent in the draft and Ntilikina may be the top prospect in that sense. Despite standing 6-foot-5, Ntilinka has struggled to grow as a facilitator, generating a player efficiency rating of 12.6. While the aforementioned guards posses PERs ranging from 22-28 (and, to be fair, are allowed to dominate the ball-handling responsibilities). I think many will be excited to see what type of growth and development Curry and Ferrell can attain during the offseason. And at this point, both guards along with J.J. Barea and Devin Harris appear to be better alternatives than unknown in Ntilinka.
Greg Higgins: As a fan, I’ve never been excited to know a team is “tanking.” I understand the philosophy but I don’t want to ever think about my team doing that. In order for that to happen, you are basically telling your players I don’t want to compete and that’s something I can’t wrap my head around.
So, I would have to say that I’m more excited about the future of this team than I would be the draft pick position. The fact that they were able to get so young on draft day is just amazing to me. The addition of Nerlens Noel was huge for this team. With his youth and his athleticism, Carlisle has another big man he can work with now.
And lets be honest here, it’s not like the Mavs have been knocking it out of the park in the draft. I’m excited for the future of this team.
Changing the tune here a little bit: There was a discussion on the Mavs Fanatic Twitter page the other night about who (if anyone), besides Dirk, will have their jersey retired and hanging from the AAC rafters one day. Which former Maverick would you give the “thumbs up” to?
Dalton Trigg: It really just depends on what Mark Cuban’s requirements are, but I would love to see Jason Terry’s No. 31 hanging next to Dirk’s No. 41 one day. If Dirk was Batman, JET was Robin. He’s a Mavs legend, in my opinion, that was there with Dirk through all the ups and the downs. Plus, he was crazy enough to tattoo the Larry O’Brien trophy on his bicep before the 2010-2011 season started and was able to back it up.
Obviously, Jason Kidd’s No. 2 would look nice in the rafters as well. Honestly, he’s probably the most likely non-Dirk candidate to have his jersey hanging in the AAC. But I’m biased and sentimental, so I want to see JET eventually get the nod. Here’s some of his 2011 Finals highlights that should give you deep feelings of nostalgia.
Michael DuPont: Jason Kidd and I didn’t have to think about it. It’s understandable some may still have wounds from the first time Kidd left, but I feel as if he more than made up for it with his return. Though Kidd’s heroics were demonstrated in many jerseys, from Pheonix to Jersey, one accomplishment went unclaimed until Kidd returned returned to where it all started and helped deliver a championship to Dallas. The numbers speak for themselves — the assists, the triple doubles, the Gold medals — they’re not going anywhere. An all star in Dallas at 22 and again at 36. It’s time to heal and grow.
Greg Higgins: When I was watching Twitter during this conversation, I was surprised at some of the answers that were given. I can see the argument for Jason Terry for sure. Steve Nash would be someone you would think about because of what he and Dirk did together. He won his MVP’s, though, while in Phoenix.
To me the obvious answer is Jason Kidd. While I’ll be the first to tell you the championship was won by “Dirk and a bunch of dudes” I also realize he doesn’t win the ring without Kidd. The way Kidd transformed his game to be a better defender and to be able to knock down the perimeter shot was something this team needed. I will admit that I don’t think they will retire another jersey at the AAC for a long time (besides Dirks of course). If they do, however, I think you may see Kidd’s jersey hanging in the rafters.
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