Fifth in the Western Conference, the Dallas Mavericks are on a four-game winning streak. Nevertheless, they come out of a long period without their star, Luka Dončić, injured then positive for Covid-19. As a result, we have seen that “Luka dependence” is still very much present.
An alarming record
At the moment, the Mavs have a positive record with 20 wins for 18 losses. However, that has not always been the case this season, especially when Luka Dončić was absent. The Slovenian is still sailing with physical problems, especially at the level of his very fragile ankle. In addition, he entered the Health and Safety protocol of the NBA, delaying his return for ten days. During that time, Dallas had to play ten games without him. Jason Kidd trusted Kristaps Porziņģis and Jalen Brunson to take over the franchise. The balance sheet is average. Five wins for five losses is the perfect balance. However, when we take a closer look at these losses, we notice that with the help of their star, the scenario would surely have been different.
Indeed, the first game lost was against the Lakers in overtime. Dallas leads by three points with nine seconds remaining. LeBron James takes his chance at 7 meters, but misses. Porziņģis and Kleber fight on the rebound, but don’t communicate. Result, a loss of stupid ball which benefits Ellington. The latter slips into a corner of the ground and snatches the extension. At the end of overtime, a three-point competition is set up. There are ten seconds to play, the score is tied. Russell Westbrook enters, comes out for the rookie Austin Reaves who crucifies at three points.
The second meeting is lost against the Wolves, deprived of Anthony Edwards. However, there is only six point difference and Kristaps Porziņģis comes out with an injury in the third quarter. The third loss is against the Bucks without Giánnis Antetokoúnmpo. Dallas deprived of Dončić and Porziņģis lost only seven points against the defending champions. Then, the Mavs do not win against the Jazz, despite the return of the Latvian. The score is tight (120-116) and Donovan Mitchell pulls off a great game with 33 points. Finally, the last loss is against the Kings. The game is not great, but the Mavericks hold on until the end. Finally, until Chimeize Metu sends her buzzer beater from elsewhere.
Five infuriating defeats for Dallas who would have needed Luka Dončić to come to their aid. If we add that, the four games at the start of the season, missed by the Slovenian, we arrive at a record of 5-9 for Dallas, or two-thirds of losses. A huge percentage that requires an emergency solution.
We may wonder what this “Luka dependence” is due to. The most blatant answer involves the management of the franchise. Indeed, he knows that she has in her ranks a rare talent, raw and who has the shoulders to bring the team to the title. However, his entourage is not of the same ilk. Kristaps Porziņģis is no longer the All-Star that he was in New York, although his start to the season was encouraging. In addition, its physical fragility can frighten over the length of a campaign of playoffs. Then the roles players like Tim Hardaway Jr, Dwight Powell, Dorian Finney-Smith, Maxi Kleber or Reggie Bullock are not constant. At any time, they can catch fire and light up a match. However, the next day, the stats immediately drop again.
Finally, the only other stable part of this workforce is called Jalen Brunson, often used as a 6th man. The second creator of the team who has improved a lot since last season. However, it is still too fair to claim to play the title.
Knowing this, the management of the Mavericks has not tried anything over the last two summer to bring back talented players in order to surround the Slovenian. The workforce has even declined in the trade (lost) with Philadelphia Seth Curry – Josh Richardson. Very often, Dallas finds itself in transfer rumors. We have seen it with Spencer Dinwiddie, Giánnis Antetokoúnmpo, Bradley Beal, but nothing concrete has resulted. A fault that could cost the franchise dearly if Dallas blocks each year in the first round of the playoffs. Indeed, Luka Dončić, a competitor at heart, will not wait ten years before winning his first title. For now, Luka Magic wants to stay in Texas and claims his love for his franchise. Be careful not to spoil this generational phenomenon.
The Mavs are still too dependent on their young star. This is reflected in the collective results. Injured during the game against Golden State, Luka Dončić will again miss a few games. It’s up to the other Dallas players to show that even without him they can win and stay in the top 6 in the Western Conference.
Photo credit: AP