The general consensus for the 2018-19 NBA season is that the Dallas Mavericks will be better than they were a season ago, and it would be difficult for that to not happen.
The Mavs were bad, as in 24-wins bad. Their reward for all that hard, tanking work was the No. 5 overall pick, which they used on Oklahoma guard Trae Young. But Young was a Maverick only in a technical sense, as he was quickly dealt to Atlanta for Luka Doncic.
It might go down as the steal of the draft. It already has in some circles, with Doncic pegged as a preseason favorite to be Rookie of the Year.
So, should he win the award, it wouldn’t be some crazy, out-of-nowhere, never-saw-it-coming moment for these Mavs. But would register as such?
Well, here are three completely plausible things that just might happen this season:
1. Mavs will make the playoffs: Playoffs? After what happened in the season opener Wednesday against the worst team last season? After 24 wins last season? It’s not as long a shot as it might seem, even in the stacked Western Conference. The Mavs have upgraded significantly in the starting five, which makes their bench deeper and better. Last season’s Mavs were in tank mode after a miserable start. The schedule is a bit kinder early on, which should allow them to gain some traction and remain afloat until April.
2. Doncic will be selected to All-Star team: One of the most seasoned rookies to ever enter the NBA – he was the MVP of the EuroLeague last season at age 19 – Doncic will emerge as the Mavs’ best player and one of the biggest curiosities in the league. The interest in him, in addition to the all-around statistics that will support all the predraft and preseason hype, will open a spot for him on the Western Conference All-Star team in the Feb. 17 game at Charlotte.
3. DeAndre Jordan will shoot better than 60 percent from the free-throw line: The NBA’s all-time leader in field-goal percentage is among the worst at the charity stripe. He was so bad that teams employed the Hack-a-DeAndre tactic, which in terms of wins and losses backfired. He’s still a liability, but he has improved each of the past four seasons. Next up? Sixty percent. It’ll happen.