Can Luka Doncic Actually Win MVP in 2021? History Says…Maybe

Remember that tweet that warned GMs about drafting Luka Doncic? ‘Don’t get fired for drafting this guy.’ Two years later, Luka is an MVP candidate, and a GM was literally fired for not drafting him.

The Dallas Mavericks had a rocky start to their season. Championship aspirations aside, the possibility of winning MVP was slipping through Luka’s fingers faster than an opposing player slithering through the Mavs’ porous defense.

But as the Mavericks’ defense has improved, so has Luka’s case for MVP.

What are the odds that Luka Doncic can actually win MVP this season? Rather than take a wild guess, let’s look at the history of the MVP award to see what it would take for him to win.

Luka vs. NBA MVP History

NBA MVP winners averaged 26.1 points, 12.2 rebounds, and 5.6 assists in their laureate season. Those averages include Centers and Forwards. Point Guards averaged 24.1 points, 10 assists, and 6.1 rebounds.

Either way, Luka’s 27.4 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 8.3 assists per game are enough to put him firmly in the conversation. Luka Doncic is putting up MVP numbers. That’s just a fact.

But averaging MVP numbers and actually winning MVP are two different things. Just ask Shaquille O’NealJames HardenChris Paul, and any other great player that’s been “snubbed”. There are more hurdles to overcome.

Historical Season Averages for MVP Winners

The first hurdle is Luka’s age. If Luka Doncic wins MVP in 2021, he’ll be 22 years old when he receives the award. He would be the youngest MVP ever, beating Derrick Rose by a month or two.

Over a dozen players have won MVP aged 25 or younger, but only two players aged 22 or younger have won.

The next hurdle is the Mavericks’ record. The Mavs are currently 6-4 and on pace to win somewhere around 43 games in the shortened 72-game season. Adjusted to an 82-game season, that’s marginally less than 50 wins.

Only eight players won MVP when their team won 50 games or less (either in reality or adjusted to an 82-game schedule). In the modern NBA, only one player has done it – Russell Westbrook, who averaged a triple-double and 31.6 points per game. The last player before him was Michael Jordan in 1988, when the Bulls won exactly 50 games and he averaged 35 points per game.

Combining these two hurdles – age and team record – sets the bar even higher. The two 22-year-old players who won MVP led their teams to an average of 57 wins (adjusted to an 82-game schedule). The Mavericks would have to add an additional seven wins to their projected total to reach that.

The good news is that the Mavericks look better in each game and Kristaps Porzingis’ return should give their win rate a boost. If the Mavericks win 50 games in this shortened season, Luka will be a top three MVP candidate.

Is the MVP Narrative on Luka’s Side?

Before the season started, sports betters put their money on Luka Doncic for MVP, and the national media was eager to promote a new star to their viewers. That’s important because it’s the national media who vote on the MVP award. If the majority of the media predicted that Luka would be an MVP candidate, he’s going to be in that conversation for the entire season.

The media often talk about “voter fatigue”. Since they’re the ones voting, we can assume it’s a real factor. Proof of this is the fact that a completely new crop of candidates has popped up this year – Nikola JokicJoel EmbiidAnthony Davis, and others.

The bottom line is that the MVP race in 2021 is not clear at this point. That gives Luka and the Mavericks time to figure things out and become the best version of themselves.

Can Luka Win MVP in 2021?

History is not on Luka’s side. His age alone would make his win rare. Even with the narrative on his side, the team’s current win rate isn’t quite high enough to make him a worthy candidate. Then again, they’ve won four games in a row and their focus on defense has finally put their destiny in their own hands.

The Mavericks fan in me knows to always believe in a little Luka Magic. Maybe he has another buzzer-beating win up his shooting sleeve.

Here Are the Stories That Got Mavs Fans Talking In 2020

Remember when the most complicated thing about 2020 was the NBA’s new All-Star game format?

Good times.

2020 has been…*checks for another word for “unprecedented”*…bizarre. Some of the biggest stories of the past decade happened this year.

This little blog covered stories that resonated with Dallas Mavericks fans. I thought it would be fun to take a look back at all the crazy things we cared about this year. Here are the most popular pieces of content from our websitepodcast, and social media accounts.

Yup, we were all about Kristaps Porzingis’ torn ACL in 2020, as you’ll see from the rest of this list. I did a research project to predict Kristaps’ season averages for 2020 (and actually got pretty close), but there’s nothing like seeing a real-life example.

This article featured past NBA players who suffered a torn ACL and came back in pretty good shape, if not the same as before. Guys like Zach Lavine, Mark Price, and Al Jefferson brought some comfort to Mavs fans who were waiting for Kristaps to find his rhythm.

If 2020 wasn’t bad enough already, some clown in a suit decided to pull Fox Sports Southwest from just about every TV provider and streaming service. There was a lot of confusion over where to watch the Mavericks. I decided to track down every single local TV provider and every available streaming service to verify which ones carry our regional Fox Sports channel.

Turns out it’s pretty much just AT&T.

You can read the whole page to get the lowdown on packages and pricing. I show a few other services besides AT&T that carry FSSW, but I’ve heard conflicting reports on even those. Just make sure you double-check before signing a contract.

Yup, Kristaps’ little knees were a hot topic this year.

After a pretty good first season back, Kristaps came into the Orlando “Bubble” and dominated. He was The Unicorn.

And then he had another injury.

At this point, I think we were all starting to wonder if this was going to be an ongoing problem with KP. Were these freak accidents or is he injury-prone?

I decided to talk to a doctor and get an educated answer. This article includes some very helpful insights into what could have caused these injuries, whether or not Mavs fans should be concerned, and how the Mavericks should use Kristaps to lower his risk of injury. I know I’m biased, but it’s a super-good article. (And apparently Mavs fans agree with me.)

WHAT IS GOING ON?? Mavericks-Clippers Game 4 Recap – Luka’s Game-Winning Buzzer Beater

The Mavericks First Round series against the Clippers had plenty of storylines: Marcus Morris’ general punkery; Kristaps Porzingis’ general injury-ness (it’s a word – shut up); and oh yeah, Luka Doncic hitting a game-winning buzzer-beater in his first ever NBA Playoff series.

Mavs fans were BUZZING. Heck, Martin and I jumped up screaming and hugged, for cryin’ out loud. (When was the last time a stupid game made you hug someone?)

Our post-game pod was fun to record and fun to listen to. (Yes, I listen to my own podcast. Judge me.)

Sixers Reporter Jason Blevins on How Josh Richardson Helps the Mavericks

Ok, so fast-forward a few months. We know we have the next GOAT, we know a Championship is just around the corner, and we’re ready for some big moves.

When the Mavericks acquired Josh Richardson from the Sixers via trade, we were all pretty intrigued. He’s a good defender, he can…..wait, what does he do?

Yeah, Josh Richardson is a guy we all know about, but we weren’t really sure what he’s good at, or what to expect. Jason Blevins from The Painted Lines gave some super-helpful insights on who Josh Richardson is and how he can help the Mavericks.

And then we did our usual rant about hating the Mavericks’ free agency plan.

The Mavs’ Failed Protest & Mark Cuban’s Fine; Are the Mavs Getting Better In the Clutch? (Special Guest Host Lauren Gunn)

I’m guessing this one was popular because bad officiating seemed like the most pressing issue at the time. (Remember those days?)

Well, that and Lauren Gunn is a legend and an amazing co-host.

For a little context, this was when the Mavericks thought they had been cheated because of a basket that happened after a goaltend call that was later overturned. The Mavericks protested the outcome, they lost the protest, and Mark Cuban was fined.

The topic might be dated now, but the episode is still good because Lauren and I also talk about the Mavs’ clutch problems and Maxi Kleber’s versatility as a defender, which is super-relevant right now.

Luka Doncic is the Superstar We Need, But Not the One We Deserve (Or Something Like That)

Your superstar hasn’t shown up for training camp yet? Can’t relate.— Sydney Myers (@_sydneymyers) December 7, 2020

When James Harden was out partying in Atlanta and causing all kinds of problems for his team, Luka Doncic was in Dallas with his teammates, wearing a ninja headband, and dancing.

We don’t deserve him.

In the Streaming Wars, We Are the Casualties

I remember when all these streaming services like Sling came up it was supposed to be the start of customers being able to buy whatever channels they wanted instead of being forced into expensive cable packages. 5 years later and everything is basically the same, just new names.— Sydney Myers (@_sydneymyers) February 27, 2020

Yeah, TV was a big problem in 2020 for Mavs fans. When I tweeted this in February, the problems were just starting. We’re in the heat of battle right now, and I don’t even know who’s winning.

Kids These Days…

Oh I forgot the time AD won MVP and Finals MVP and scored 30k points. Man, what a career.— Sydney Myers (@_sydneymyers) October 2, 2020

The original tweet in this thread was deleted by the author, but he was trying to say that Anthony Davis is better than Dirk. Obviously, I had to shut that down, like, pronto.

Luka Magic

🗣️ YOUR APOLOGY NEEDS TO BE AS LOUD AS YOUR DISRESPECT WAS. 😎— Sydney Myers (@_sydneymyers) August 9, 2020

I’m actually not entirely sure what this tweet was about, but judging by the date, it probably had something to do with Luka’s triple-double against the Milwaukee Bucks and his clutch between-the-legs pass to Maxi Kleber.

We had no idea what we were in for.

That’s all of our best and most popular content from 2020. Despite the world’s situation, Mavericks fans actually had some fun things to cheer about and take our mind off it all.

Thank you to everyone who has supported this blog and our website. You guys have been amazing, and literally any amount of growth we experience is because of you. Keep listening and reading because 2021 will have more fun times.

Everything You Need to Know About the Dallas Mavericks’ 2020-2021 Schedule – Part 1

The NBA released the first half of the 2020-2021 season schedule, and there were a few surprises for Mavericks fans. The Dallas Mavericks will play a game on Christmas Day for the first time since 2011. The Mavs will also play 16 nationally televised games. The NBA clearly recognizes how special Luka Doncic is and how exciting the Mavericks should be this season.

But there are probably a lot of other details you’re anxious to know about. How many back-to-backs do the Mavericks have? Does the condensed season mean the Mavs have a tighter schedule? When will they face the Clippers, Lakers, Hawks, [insert other “rivalry” here]?

Well, I went through the Dallas Mavericks’ 2021 season schedule and found the most interesting nuggets.

dallas mavericks 2021 schedule breakdown infographic

Dallas Mavericks Season Schedule Highlights

Here are some key details:

  • 37 Games
  • Miles Traveled: 18,413
    • Most: TOR 21,446
    • Least: CHA 14,089
  • Back-to-Backs: 6
  • Nationally Televised Games: 16 (that’s 43.2% of their games!)
  • Home Games: 19
  • Away Games: 18
  • Longest Road Trips: 4 3-game road trips, each 5 days long
  • Longest Home Stand: 7 games, 14 days February 4-17
  • Games by Month
    • December: 4
    • January: 17
    • February: 14
    • March: 2
  • Home/Away by Month
    • December: 1/3
    • January: 7/10
    • February: 10/4
    • March: 1/1
  • Games by Day of Week
    • Sunday: 4
    • Monday: 8
    • Tuesday: 1
    • Wednesday: 9
    • Thursday: 3
    • Friday: 7
    • Saturday: 5
  • Games by Time of Day
    • 2 PM: 1
    • 2:30 PM: 2
    • 6 PM: 5
    • 6:30 PM: 7
    • 7 PM: 3
    • 7:30 PM: 14
    • 8 PM: 1
    • 8:30 PM: 1
    • 9 PM: 2
    • 9:30 PM: 1
  • Toughest Month: January
    • 4 Back-to-Backs
    • 10 Road Games (out of 17)
    • 11 Playoff Teams + Pelicans, Hornets, and Suns
    • Lot of back-and-forth traveling
    • 2 3-game road trips
  • Notable Games:
    • 12/23 – Season Opener @ Suns
    • 12/25 – XMAS Day @ Lakers
    • 12/27 – @ Clippers (National TV – NBATV)
    • 1/15 – @ Bucks (National TV – ESPN)
    • 1/22 – @ Spurs
    • 2/10 – vs Hawks (National TV – ESPN)

Which games are you looking forward to the most? When do you think Kristaps Porzingis will be back for the Mavs and how will that affect their record? What do you expect out of new additions Josh RichardsonJames Johnson, and the rookies? Share you thoughts!

6 Sign-and-Trade Options for the Dallas Mavericks

Tim Hardaway Jr opted into the final year of his contract with the Dallas Mavericks. That means that going into 2020 Free Agency, they have only their mid-level exception (worth about $9 million) to work with. However, there’s always the option to do a sign-and-trade.

Here are five free agents the Mavericks should target for a sign-and-trade acquisition.

1. Bogdan Bogdanovic

The deal to send Bogdan Bogdanovic to the Milwaukee Bucks is officially off, according to Shams Charania. That means he’s now a restricted free agent. He will probably want a deal in the $15-18 million range. For that price, you’re getting a 27-year-old 6’6 shooting guard who’s a versatile scorer and willing passer.

Last season, he averaged 15 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game, and made over 37% of his 3-point attempts. He’s used to playing off the ball, with De’Aaron Fox running the show in Sacramento. He’s an efficient catch-shoot scorer, but can also make plays with the ball for himself and others.

At his age and with his skills, which are still developing, he’s a perfect fit with the Mavericks.

2. Danilo Gallinari

The Mavericks have long been linked to Danillo Gallinari. He’s a veteran player with experience in big moments. He’s also an efficient scorer and playmaker that would take the Mavericks’ already historic offense to another planet. He made over 40 percent of his 3-point shots last season and led the league in Offensive Rating (tied with Kawhi Leonard).

True, he wouldn’t help the Mavericks defensively, but their recent addition of Josh Richardson makes this less of a concern for me. Richardson will likely guard perimeter players, and Kristaps protected the paint well last season. The Mavericks can always sub in Dorian Finney-Smith if they need help with a particular matchup.

But honestly, their offense would be so incredibly good, I don’t think they would need a top five defense to make a deep run in the Playoffs.

3. Gordon Hayward

Gordon Hayward opted out of the final year of his contract. He passed up a guaranteed $34 million, so he like wants a contract similar to that – and thinks he can get it.

The Mavericks could use a guy with Hayward’s skillset for the same reasons I went over when talking about DeMar DeRozan in Part 1 of this series. They need someone who can balance out the offense and create his own shot.

Beyond Hayward’s ability to score over 20 points per game every night, his versatility as a scorer would make the Mavericks dangerous. He’s a good 3-point shooter (he made over 38% of his 3-point shots in 2020) and he’s an efficient scorer. He’s also a better rebounder than Tim Hardaway Jr. and can make plays for others. 

4. Joe Harris

Joe Harris is known for being a long-range sniper. It’s true, he’s a deadly 3-point shooter (he made 47.4% of his 3-point attempts in 2019), but his skillset goes beyond that. Harris has the ability to make plays with the ball by curling around screens and driving to the basket. His size helps him finish through contact, and he uses his body effectively in those situations.

You could say he’s a poor man’s Klay Thompson. Klay Thompson is obviously better at what he does, but their games are similar – long-range shots, pull-up jumpers off of screens and around picks, and drives to the basket when there’s space.

The numbers show that he’s not a bad defender either. In fact, in 2020 he had a better Defensive Rating and Defensive Box Plus/Minus than Tim Hardaway Jr. Obviously, Hardaway isn’t a stone wall on the perimeter, but the point is that you’re not losing any skill there. If anything, you’re gaining a little.

5. Jerami Grant

Jerami Grant is the guy many Mavs fans want the team to sign. Heck, he’s the guy most fans want their team to sign. He’s a 3&D player that contributed valuable minutes to a Denver Nuggets team that beat the Los Angeles Clippers in the Playoffs. The Mavericks have some work to do with their perimeter defense, which makes Jerami Grant a tantalizing free agent.

The problem with Grant is that he’s a lot like a player the Mavericks already have – Dorian Finney-Smith. It doesn’t make sense to have both of them. Grant is better than Dorian in some ways, but not by very much. Dorian actually had a higher Offensive Rating than Grant in 2020, and their Defensive Rating was almost identical. Dorian is also a better rebounder and outperformed Jerami Grant in the Playoffs in almost every aspect of the game. Not to mention the fact that he’s much cheaper.

6. Serge Ibaka

Mavericks fans are well-acquainted with Serge Ibaka and the havoc he can wreak as a rim protector. We saw it first-hand during his years with the Oklahoma City Thunder. But you can also rely on him on offense for elbow jumpers, 3-pointers, and finishes at the rim. He’s a versatile player that fits in with the Mavericks’ offense and defense.

Kristaps did an amazing job protecting the rim this season, but with his injury history, the Mavericks might want to keep him out of the paint. Either way, having two rim protectors is better than one. And Ibaka won’t mess up their spacing since he can hit pull-up jumpers, set sturdy picks, and roll to the rim for dunks.

At 30 years old, he’s coming off one of the best seasons of his career in terms of scoring and rebounding. The price might be too high for what the Mavs want to invest in a big man, and they might want to roll with Dwight Powell as a starter. If they’re looking for an upgrade, Ibaka is a great fit for them.

It’s hard to predict exactly what the Mavericks will do when Free Agency opens. They’ve been linked to a few players, but rumors are scarce. However, any one of these players would make the Mavericks a dangerous team in 2021.

The Worst Draft Mistakes in Dallas Mavericks History

Imagine Charles Barkley and John Stockton in a Dallas Mavericks uniform. Sound impossible? Well, the Mavericks actually had a chance to draft both players together in 1984. Obviously, they chose not to.

With the NBA Draft upon us, I decided to have some fun and look at the Dallas Mavericks’ entire draft history as a franchise. Hindsight is 20/20, so it’s interesting to see where mistakes were made and how different things could have been.

Here are the eight worst draft night decisions made by the Dallas Mavericks.

8. 1981 Draft – #1 Pick, Mark Aguirre Over Isiah Thomas

Drafting Mark Aguirre is by no means what you would call a “mistake”. He averaged over 24 points per game as a Maverick and was part of some of the greatest teams in franchise history.


The second pick in the 1981 draft was Isiah Thomas.

That’s a 12-time All-Star versus a 3-time All-Star. A 5-time All-NBA player versus one with no All-NBA appearances. And that’s not even mentioning Thomas’ championships and Finals MVP award.

It’s hard to say if Isiah Thomas would have had the same impact for the Mavericks that he did with his Pistons teams, but it’s a tantalizing fantasy.

7. 2011 Draft – #26 Pick, Jordan Hamilton Over Jimmy Butler

The Mavericks were riding high in 2011. After winning the franchise’s first championship, the draft was the last thing on fans’ minds.

When the Mavs got the 26th pick, we were all like, “Yay! We just won a ring!” When they drafted Jordan Hamilton, we were like, “Yay! We just won a ring!” When they traded him for Rudy Fernandez, who never played a game for the Mavs, we were like, “Yay! We just won a ring!”

When the Chicago Bulls picked Jimmy Butler just four picks later, maybe we should have paid attention.

It’s tough to fault a team for not seeing a diamond in the rough at the end of the first round, but it still hurts, nonetheless.

6. 1983 Draft – #9 Pick, Dale Ellis Over Clyde Drexler

This draft wasn’t a complete flop for the Mavericks. They drafted Derek Harper with the 11th pick, so they hit a home run there. However, their ninth pick, Dale Ellis, didn’t do much for the Mavericks. What hurts is that they could have drafted Clyde Drexler, who eventually went 14th.

Imagine a backcourt of Clyde Drexler and Derek Harper. They would probably have some deep Playoff runs, and maybe even make a run at an NBA title. Dale Ellis, on the other hand, played three seasons with the Mavericks and averaged 8 points per game. This was definitely a missed opportunity.

5. 1985 Draft – #8 Pick, Detlef Schrempf Over Karl Malone; #17 Pick, Uwe Blab Over Joe Dumars

Don’t get me wrong, Detlef Schrempf had a great career (though nowhere near the kind of career Karl Malone had), but his time with the Mavericks wasn’t spectacular. He played four seasons for the Mavs and averaged eight points a game.

On top of that miss, the Mavericks made another mistake. With the 17th pick, they chose to draft Uwe Blab over Joe Dumars, who was the very next pick. Joe Dumars had a Hall of Fame career, became a 2-time NBA Champion and a Finals MVP. Uwe Blab lasted five seasons in the league and averaged two points and two rebounds per game.

4. 1996 Draft – #9 Pick, Samaki Walker Over Kobe Bryant, Peja Stojakovic, or Steve Nash

Most of these lists include just one alternative that would have landed a franchise player. In those cases, you win some, you lose some. But in 1996, the Mavericks had several options. With the ninth pick, they could have chosen Kobe Bryant, who went 13th, Peja Stojakovic, who went 14th, or Steve Nash, who went 15th.

I guess all is well that ends well since the Mavs eventually got Nash and Peja, and won a Championship with Peja, but obviously that first name, Kobe Bryant, hurts.

3. 1986 Draft – #25 Pick, Mark Price (Traded)

This one really hurts because they actually drafted the guy! With the 25th pick, the Mavericks drafted Mark Price, a future All-Star and All-NBA point guard. They had him right in their hands, but then they traded him to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

What did they get back?

A 1989 second-round draft pick, which they used to draft Jeff Hodge, who never played an NBA game.

Mark Price went on to average 15+ points and 6+ assists for the Cavaliers, who became an Eastern Conference powerhouse with Price.

2. 1984 Draft – #4 Pick, Sam Perkins Over Charles Barkley; #15 Pick, Terence Stansbury Over John Stockton

This was a one-two punch in the gut. The Mavericks were so close to changing the franchise forever, but they just barely whiffed on the opportunity. They had picks four and fifteen in the 1984 draft and chose Sam Perkins and Terence StansburyCharles Barkley and John Stockton went fifth and 16th, both one pick after the Mavericks’.

At the time, the Mavericks already had a core of Mark Aguirre and Rolando Blackman, plus a young Derek Harper. Imagine adding Charles Barkley and John Stockton to that team. Sheesh.

1. 2013 Draft – #13 Pick, Shane Larkin and Ricky Ledo Over Giannis Antetokounmpo, Rudy Gobert, Tim Hardaway Jr, or Others

Here’s what happened in 2013: The Mavericks drafted Kelly Olynyk with the 13th pick, immediately traded him to Boston for the 16th pick, then traded that for the 18th pick. They drafted Shane Larkin and traded another second-round pick for Ricky Ledo.

Here are all the players who were available at these picks:

All of those players were available, and the Mavs left with Shane Larkin and Ricky Ledo. They could have drafted almost anyone else besides Shane Larkin, and they probably would have gotten a great player, if not an MVP or Defensive Player of the Year. That player would have joined a Playoff team with Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis.

If you could go back and redo one of these mistakes, which one would it be?

Honestly, I was surprised I couldn’t find more draft mistakes while making this list. The Mavericks have a pretty impressive draft record, but everyone makes mistakes. Thankfully, they didn’t make a mistake when Dirk Nowitzki and Luka Doncic were available.

Should the Mavericks Be Concerned About Kristaps Porzingis’ Injury History?

How many players are offered a 5-year $100+ million contract while still rehabbing from a torn ACL?

Not many. And yet, that’s exactly what the Dallas Mavericks did with Kristaps Porzingis

Yeah, you could call that a risk.

But Kristaps made a great recovery from his torn ACL. Based on historical data, I predicted he would average 19 points, 9 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game on 42 FG% and 35 3PT%. His actual season averages were 20.4 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 2 blocks on 43% FG% and 35%.

The season was not without a few bumps and bruises though. In the end, he tore his meniscus. That’s definitely not as serious as a torn ACL, but it’s a knee injury nonetheless.

After another knee injury, some questions start coming back up. Should the Mavericks be concerned about Kristaps’ injury history? Is there something wrong with his body?

Kristaps’ Injury History

Take a look at the injuries Kristaps dealt with in his 3-year career with the Knicks.

  • October 2015 – Tweaked Left IT Band (Games Missed: 0 – Before Season Start)
  • October 2015 – Left Quad Strain (Games Missed: 0 – Before Season Start)
  • March 2016 – Right Shoulder Strain (Games Missed: 7)
  • January 2017 – Sore Left Achilles (Games Missed: 4)
  • November 2017 – Sprained Left Ankle (Games Missed: 1)
  • November 2017 – Lower Back Tightness (Games Missed: 1)
  • November 2017 – Sore Left Ankle (Games Missed: 2)
  • December 2017 – Sore Left Knee (Games Missed: 2)
  • January 2018 – Left Knee Irritation (Games Missed: 1)
  • February 2018 – Torn ACL in Left Knee (Games Missed: 116)

As Mavs fans, we’d like to think all of that is behind him, but here’s a list of injuries (minor as they may be) he’s dealt with in just one season with the Mavericks.

  • January 2020 – Right Knee Soreness (Games Missed: 10)
  • August 2020 – Left Heel Contusion (Games Missed: 1)
  • August 2020 – Torn Meniscus in Right Knee (Games Missed: 3)

It’s not unreasonable to acknowledge the fact that the same knee that bothered him enough to get a PRP injection in January is the same knee that suffered a torn meniscus in August.

Is Kristaps “Injury-Prone”?

So, is there a problem? Are these just fluke injuries? What’s going on with his body?

There’s the theory that taller players are more injury-prone. According to research by, lottery picks drafted since 2000 who were 7’ or taller missed 23.5% of their potential NBA games because of injury over the course of their career.

games missed by nba players by height

Players who were 6’8 or shorter missed only 13.5% of their potential games.

Jeff Stotts, a certified Athletic Trainer and owner of, said this about Kristaps’ string of injuries:

“It would be irresponsible to ignore the fact that he’s had a left quad injury, a left hip injury, a left IT band injury, all these things in the left. Maybe there is something going on with that left kinetic chain…You got to make sure that these seemingly minor things aren’t all connected and result in something major.”

Stotts made that comment to Bleacher Report in February 2016, two years before Kristaps tore his ACL in, you guessed it, his left knee.

I also talked to Dr. Rajpal Brar, a physical therapist and owner of 3CB Performance, a performance and sports therapy clinic. When I asked if he would classify Kristaps as “injury-prone”, he said:

“Many of his injuries and nicks have been of the non-contact variety so I would lean toward injury prone’.” However, that’s not the final word. Dr. Brar pointed out:

“On the outside looking in, we don’t have enough information to know what’s truly causing the injuries. [Are there] underlying issues? Is it something to do with his movement mechanics, is he anatomically more prone to have certain injuries, is it due to inherent risk after a previous injury?

That last point is what could spell trouble for Kristaps. Whether or not he was injury-prone before his torn ACL, that injury could have lingering affects on his body. Although some players have successfully recovered from a torn ACL, some players were never the same again.

“We know injury risk increases across the entire board for the rest of the lower body following an ACL rupture, and further research shows it can take up to two years to regain full confidence in the knee and have true side-to-side symmetry.”

Kristaps is far from a finished product. In a review of 48 studies evaluating 5,770 athletes, only 63% had returned to their pre-injury level of performance after an average of almost 3.5 years of recovery from a torn ACL.

Should Kristaps Change the Way He Plays?

This question comes up a lot, and it makes sense. If these injuries are happening while playing basketball, maybe he should play basketball differently to avoid those injuries. Here’s what Raj said:

“If there are mechanical issues at play that can’t be fixed such as when he’s rolling to the rim or jumping to crash the boards, then you adjust [his style]. What I’d look at first are plays where he’s taking a lot of punishment or wear over the course of the game like post-ups and take that out.”

It makes sense. Those “high-risk situations”, as Dr. Brar called them, involve a lot of contact, require more physical exertion, and put Kristaps in a crowd of people.

By keeping Porzingis out of the crowd and using his skills as a shooter, the Mavericks capitalize on his unique versatility and lower the risk of injury.

There’s also the idea that putting on muscle would solve the problem, but that’s a two-edged sword. Extra weight means extra force that’s being exerted on your joints, and that’s multiplied when running and jumping.

Mavericks fans remember what happened to Chandler Parsons. After putting on 20 pounds of muscle in one summer, Parsons had severe knee issues that pretty much ended his career.

It’s not as simple as getting stronger. The Mavericks will need to continually manage any problem areas, look at ways of improving his mechanics (if they see issues), and utilize his skills in ways that don’t put him in high-risk situations.

Should the Mavericks be Concerned?

As mentioned at the outset, Kristaps’ latest injury is not serious. Dr. Brar explained in a recent video breakdown that the fact that Kristaps’ meniscus tear is eligible for repair is a good sign for the future. The alternative would be to remove a portion of the meniscus, and that’s something you want to avoid at all costs, especially with the lateral meniscus. Dr. Brar explains: “That meniscus takes on more stress and wear due to a couple biomechanical properties. Being able to repair and keep that lateral meniscus completely intact is even more important for KP’s long-term health and fitness.”

However, Raj made an interesting point about what it will take to keep Kristaps healthy:

“Generally, they may want to limit his high risk situations, but that’s always a tough call because there’s so much inherent risk in the game, especially for a superstar player who is going to be in crowds regularly.”

Kristaps is a star. He’s going to have the ball a lot. He’s going to be involved in the offense. If they have to limit how many games he plays and what situations he’s in on the floor, does that impact his effectiveness as a go-to option behind Luka Doncic? Availability is just as important as ability.

I think that’s the real question. It’s not just about keeping him healthy. It’s about whether or not you can rely on him even when he’s on the court. If he’s limited in availability, playing time, and in-game impact, can he still be what the Mavericks need him to be or should they try to bring in a third star to offset his limitations?

As Dr. Raj brought out, there’s a lot we don’t know as outsiders. Many of these questions will be answered next season. The Mavericks’ training staff has earned our trust with whatever program they implement for Kristaps, whether it includes load management or not.

The Mavericks could use more depth anyway. If bringing in more players makes the team better and lets Kristaps manage his playing time and style, I call that a win-win. And hopefully that leads to real wins.

[1] Ardern, C. L., Webster, K. E., Taylor, N. F., Feller, J. A. (2011). Return to sport following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the state of play. British journal of sports medicine45(7), 596–606.

Dallas Mavericks Free Agency 2020: 5 Players the Mavericks Need to Sign

he 2020 NBA season is coming to a close. After making the Playoffs for the first time in four years, the Dallas Mavericks have a bright future with Luka Doncic, who might be closer to winning MVP than we think. What moves can they make this off-season to propel themselves into contention?

First up, Free Agency. There are some players who the Mavericks should definitely target. I’ve listed five here as Plan A options.

But before we can talk about signing anyone, we have to know how much money the Mavericks have at their disposal.

How Much Cap Space Do the Mavericks Have in 2020?

Tim Hardaway Jr. has a Player Option on his contract. If he opts out, he becomes a free agent and the Mavericks will have about $20 million in cap space. They’ll also have the mid-level exception (about $9 million) and the bi-annual exception (about $4 million). If Hardaway opts in, they’ll only have the exceptions.

By the way, cap space is a very complex subject. There’s a lot that goes into exactly how much money the Mavericks will have. We’ll operate under the assumption that Hardaway will opt out, and that cap holds, dead cap, and the salary cap itself will give them roughly $20 million to work with, plus their two exceptions.

So, what should they do with that $20 million and/or exceptions?

5 Free Agents the Mavericks Should Target in 2020

1. DeMar DeRozan

It’s clear that the Mavericks need another playmaker next to Luka Doncic. Tim Hardaway Jr. filled that role this year, but there’s room for improvement. It’s certainly not impossible to upgrade from a guy who averaged 17 points and a couple of assists and rebounds. And the Mavericks’ second star, Kristaps Porzingis, is injury prone and not a good playmaker anyway. DeMar DeRozan can be that guy. His playmaking ability surpasses that of Hardaway’s, and it would help take some of the load off of Luka. The result would be a more balanced Dallas offense. Teams won’t be able to hone in on Luka like they do now.

I get the knock on DeMar about his 3-point shooting. He doesn’t shoot any. Modern NBA offenses stretch out defenses with long-range shots. However, the Mavericks have other floor spacers like Kristaps Porzingis (35 3P%), Seth Curry (45 3P%), Dorian Finney-Smith (38 3P%), and even Luka Doncic. DeRozan is so efficient as a mid-range scorer that his 2-pointers aren’t the bad shots the analytics say to avoid.

2. Joe Harris

Joe Harris is known for being a long-range sniper. It’s true, he’s a deadly 3-point shooter (he made 47.4% of his 3-point attempts in 2019), but his skillset goes beyond that. Harris has the ability to make plays with the ball by curling around screens and driving to the basket. His size helps him finish through contact, and he uses his body effectively in those situations.

You could say he’s a poor man’s Klay Thompson. Klay Thompson is obviously better at what he does, but their games are similar – long-range shots, pull-up jumpers off screens and around picks, and drives to the basket when there’s space.

The numbers show that he’s not a bad defender either. In fact, in 2020 he had a better Defensive Rating and Defensive Box Plus/Minus than Tim Hardaway Jr. Obviously, Hardaway isn’t a stone wall on the perimeter, but the point is that you’re not losing any skill there. If anything, you’re gaining a little.

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3. Jae Crowder

I hated it when the Mavericks included Jae Crowder in the trade for Rajon Rondo, and I hate it even more now. Crowder is a reliable role-player. He never takes a play off, brings defense and toughness every night, and is good for 10-15 points a game. His defense and toughness could take this team to another level, similar to the way Tyson Chandler’s tough-mindedness helped the Mavericks in 2011.

If Dorian Finney-Smith’s sudden jump in 3-point shooting continues (he shot 37.6% on 3-pointers in 2020 after shooting 31% in 2019), then he would be considered the better long-range option. But Jae is a much better defender, a more versatile scorer, and brings a tangible amount of swagger that Dorian Finney-Smith doesn’t. And he’s not a terrible 3-point shooter. He made 34.3% of his 3’s in 2020, including a 44.5 3PT% with Miami.

Jae Crowder10.
Dorian Finney-Smith9.55.70.646.637.6113122-0.3

Crowder wouldn’t be the Mavericks’ prized free agent they use their $20 million in cap space on. They can bring him in for a deal worth $9-11 million a year, meaning this option is on the table whether Tim Hardway Jr. opts-in or not.

4. Montrezl Harrell

Replace Maxi Kleber with Montrezl Harrell and this team is instantly better. Maxi and Montrezl averaged about the same minutes per game in 2020. In 28 minutes per game, Montrezl averaged 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds. In 25 minutes per game, Maxi averaged 9.1 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. It’s not rocket science.

Offensively, they are slightly different players. Maxi can hit outside shots, whereas Montrezl lives closer to the basket. But Montrezl brings plenty of scoring and hustle on defense to make up for the difference. And we know Motrezl’s numbers aren’t empty stats because he did this on a 49-win team that was the title favorite. His size will always be a concern (he’s a 6’7 Center), but the Mavericks have size elsewhere with Kristaps Porzingis, Dwight Powell, and even Boban Marjonovic. The Clippers didn’t have that luxury this year.

5. Tim Hardaway Jr.

I’ve listed a few players that would be an upgrade over Tim Hardaway Jr, but simply bringing Hardaway back wouldn’t be the worst thing ever. He had one of his best seasons as a pro in 2020. As a starter, he shot 45% overall and made almost 42% of his 3-pointers. His scoring average (17 points per game as a starter) isn’t outstanding, and he doesn’t add much else to the box score outside of that, but he’s a decent player nonetheless.

And remember, the Mavericks will still have their mid-level and bi-annual exceptions, even if Hardaway opts in. They can use those to add guys like Jae Crowder, Joe Harris, or Davis Bertans. They could even swing for Montrezl Harrell.

The asterisk here is that the price would have to be right. His current contract has him at over $18 million a year. I don’t think a 4-year deal that runs north of $72 million would be a wise decision for a player who is one-sided in his skillset. But if he’s willing to take a deal in the mid- to high 60s, I would consider keeping him.

So the Mavericks have options in free agency. There are several players they could go after to improve their roster. Even if they prefer to wait until 2021 when superstars like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard will be free agents, the exceptions they have this year still give them some money to bring in assets. And they need assets. Luka might be on his way to breaking several records, but he can’t win a Championship all by himself. The Mavericks are not done building this team.

Dallas Hoops Cast Named Top 10 Dallas Mavericks Blog made Feedspot’s list of Top 10 Dallas Mavericks Blogs and Websites to Follow in 2020. The list was compiled by over 25 industry experts and ranked by authority and traffic, among other factors. Dallas Hoops Cast ranks fourth on the list. was launched in September 2019. It was founded with the core value of putting fans first in everything – content, design, user experience, and even ad placement.

Our mission is to create fresh media experiences for Dallas Mavericks fans through blogspodcasts, videos, and interactive content. We work to make every piece of content fresh and engaging. You won’t find regurgitated news with our spin on it. Everything we produce is exclusive, original, and made for smart Mavs fans.

In addition to making the top 10 list of Dallas Mavericks blogs, our podcast, Dallas Hoops Fancast, made Feedspot’s list of Top 10 Dallas Mavericks Podcasts You Must Follow in 2020. Dallas Hoops Fancast was ranked third on the list, behind only SB Nation’s Dallas Mavericks podcast and The Athletic’s Dallas Mavericks podcast.

Dallas Hoops Fancast was started by two MFFLs (Mavs Fans For Life) who wanted to make a podcast that was everything they had been looking for – ad-free, fueled by fan emotion, focused solely on the Mavericks, and fun to listen to. The podcast remains ad-free to this day – a testament to our commitment to put fans first and create engaging media experiences.

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Twitter: @_sydneymyers