The Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks renew their rivalry on Wednesday at Footprint Center, with the teams set to square off in their opening regular season game.
It’s a masterful piece of scheduling that follows the Mavericks shock game seven win over the Suns in the second-round of the 2022 playoffs. Phoenix will be hoping they can avenge that disaster to some degree, while Dallas will hope to further their physical, mental and emotional stranglehold over a team many would consider superior.
The Dallas Mavericks offseason reflected that of the Phoenix Suns in many respects, except there’s one major piece missing from their now one-man army.
For a team that finished as one of the last four left standing last season, Dallas have gone relatively under the radar during the offseason. Any discussion regarding them has generally been negative, with the loss of Jalen Brunson denting expectations placed upon them in 2022-23.
This is a heliocentric team purely designed for one player – Luka Doncic. The MVP favorite may be a walking playoff team in himself, but this is an otherwise uninspiring roster that faces a tough challenge to repeat last season’s heroics.
Brunson was their second-best player — the only one outside Doncic capable of garnering a $100+ million contract. Dallas lost him to the New York Knicks for nothing, and subsequently failed to replace his capacity as a secondary ball-handler and shot-creator.
Perhaps there’s a jump to be made from Spencer Dinwiddie, while Tim Hardaway Jr. will return having missed the playoffs through injury. That’s a lot of faith to place in two genuine role players though, both of which have battled inconsistency for much of their career.
The Mavericks major moves instead came in the frontcourt with the additions of Christian Wood (via trade) and former Sun Javale McGee (free agency). They’re nice players sure — Wood is a supremely gifted offensive player, while McGee provides a major lob threat for Doncic in the pick-and-roll — but they don’t exactly address Dallas’ major weakness.
Come the Western Conference Finals, the eventual champion Golden State Warriors abused the Mavericks in a way the Suns should have done all along; they walked into layup after layup in a comfortable 4-1 series win.
McGee can provide a little resistance to that, a major reason why he’ll actually be starting over Wood at the five. Yet there’s little doubt the Mavericks best five-man unit will include Wood or Maxi Kleber alongside Doncic, Dinwiddie, Reggie Bullock and Dorian Finney-Smith.
Aside from the subtraction of Brunson, and the addition of Wood and McGee, the Mavericks roster has remained largely the same. Their other minor moves, including talented second-round pick Jaden Hardy, are unlikely to factor into Wednesday’s game or many others this season.
Dallas may have avoided the controversy and unwanted attention that Phoenix amassed, but from a purely roster perspective, they had just as, if not a more disappointing offseason.