Dallas Mavericks Projected Starting Five:
- Jalen Brunson
- Seth Curry
- Luka Doncic
- Maxi Kleber
- Kristaps Porzingis
- Other Notable Players — Tim Hardaway Jr., Dwight Powell, Delon Wright, J.J. Barea, Courtney Lee, Justin Jackson
The Dallas Mavericks will house one of the league’s most interesting duos next season in Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. While their respective styles should mesh nicely, there are still questions to be answered. Will Porzingis return to All-Star form after tearing his ACL a year and a half ago? And will Luka take the next step many expect him to and turn into an All-NBA candidate next season? If the answers are yes and yes, the Mavericks could contend for the playoffs next season in a brutal Western Conference.
It is hard to project just how formidable Dallas will be next season, but I do think the Sixers will match up nicely regardless. Ben Simmons has the frame and agility to stick with Doncic, as he showed last season when he held the Slovenian to 14 points on 4-16 shooting. Embiid has had success against Porzingis is their limited matchups, averaging 23 points and 15 rebounds in the two games they went head to head, both Sixers wins.
It is possible that Dallas plays Porzingis at the four, with Dwight Powell running center. In this case, Embiid would be able to stick with Powell down low and protect the rim while Horford guards Porzingis on the perimeter. If the starting lineup I projected does end up being the unit for the Mavericks, it may force Tobias to guard either Brunson or Curry, who both would have a quickness advantage.
Of course, you can’t talk about the mismatch with Tobias defensively without bringing up the mismatch it creates on the other end. One of Ben Simmons or Tobias Harris should be guarded by Jalen Brunson, which would be exploitable in the post for either Sixer. An Embiid-stopper is tough to find on this Mavericks lineup, although Coach Rick Carlise could try our old friend Boban in limited minutes to match Embiid’s size.
The Mavericks fell to near the bottom of their conference after the Porzingis trade last season, trading a decent chunk of their previous starting lineup for a player who would not be able to get on the court. Porzingis is healthy now, and the Mavericks did add some nice additions to their guard rotation with Seth Curry and Delon Wright, but they lack defense on the wings, and they have very little shot creation outside of Doncic, unless you count the occasional explosion that should come from Tim Hardaway Jr.
I think the Sixers will take both games against the Mavericks next year. This is just my opinion, but it seemed Simmons took all the praise Luka received last season as a personal affront, considering the detractors he already attracted in his first year. Simmons will be locked in and ready to send a message, and the team will follow suit.