The Dallas Mavericks had every reason to enter this offseason with their expectations sky-high. Those hopes should have only climbed after they were able to trade for versatile offensive big man Christian Wood from the Houston Rockets for a collection of players that scarcely saw the floor for them along with the 26th overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.
After upsetting the league leader Phoenix Suns in seven games in the second round, Mavs fans should have only expected their team to build upon their surprise Western Conference Finals appearance and continue to surround international superstar Luka Doncic with the talent he needs to lead Dallas to the promised land once again.
And yet, there’s this unavoidable sense that Dallas’s roster may have actualy taken a step backward from last season despite the additions of Wood, JaVale McGee, and second-round pick Jaden Hardy.
That’s completely due to the fact that they lost fourth-year upstart guard Jalen Brunson in free agency to the New York Knicks this summer.
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While Brunson’s production in the 2021-22 regular season is entirely replaceable, the Mavs undoubtedly would not have experienced the same amount of postseason success had he not hit his ascension at the perfect time.
Now, Dallas has to find a way to replace that level of play that Brunson provided in these last playoffs lest they accept a roster regression in a year of Luka’s prime.