Dallas Mavericks ready to build on success and discuss contributions from team at media day
“We can’t replace him. What we can do is replace the minutes that Jalen gave us night in and night out.” These words were very genuine and transparent when head coach Jason Kidd was asked about what the Mavericks lost when Jalen Brunson signed a free agency contract with the New York Knicks. Jason Kidd understands the need for more players to step up this year to fill in and contribute with an efficient shooting percentage, taking care of the basketball with low turnovers, and of most importantly contribute by being an asset to players like Luka Doncic and Tim Hardaway Jr.
As each player waited his turn to take pictures with Roberto Hernandez, Mavericks official photographer, you can almost sense calmness in the room. While players waited off to the side you can see laughter and smiles by new Mavericks Javale McGee, Christian Wood and the leader of the laughs, Luka Doncic. It was as if they had been playing on the same team for years. Tim Hardaway Jr. looked eager to capture his best action photo by dribbling the basketball but was interrupted by Luka photo bombing with thumbs up. It was not only hysterical, but an example of their dynamic of friendship. The Mavericks know how valuable Hardaway is as his injury last year was a devastating loss and could have used his shooting ability against the defending champion Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. According to Hardaway Jr. he is feeling great and ready for the season and to contribute right away.
Rookie Jaden Hardy took in the entire experience of his very first media day. Hardy fits in with the locker room culture evidently by making several Mavericks players laugh hysterically by what he says and his celebratory dances. Jason Kidd stated about Hardy, “The key for us is to let him grow naturally. Keep it very simple and if his work ethic remains, he will blossom quicker than expected and contribute right away.”
As playful as Luka Doncic was with his teammates and photographer, he was very serious when discussing his expectations for the 2022-2023 season. Luka confirmed that last year’s Western Conference Finals loss to the eventual champion Golden State Warriors was his driving force all of the offseason. “The offseason is about looking for ways to improve, so I’ve been really working hard on positioning of how I defend and of course catching and shooting. In the NBA, you need to have several ways to score, and with the group of guys we have I don’t always have to score off the dribble.” Luka Doncic finished 6th in the NBA in scoring and tied for 8th in 3-pointers made averaging 3.1 three pointers made per game. His development continues to grow and for Mavericks fans and teammates his potential can reach NBA MVP soon to come.
With the Western Conference in the NBA being a difficult road, the Dallas Mavericks have all the potential to repeat another deep run in the postseason. The key will be health and the contributions of many players such as Doian Finney-Smith, JaVale McGee, Spencer Dinwiddie, Christian Wood, Josh Green and the remainder of the role players. Mavericks have captured the heart of North Texas, and now are looking for a spot in the NBA Finals if everyone plays their part and roles.