Asked by Taylor Rooks of Bleacher Report (video link) whether Luka Doncic has enough talent surrounding him to win a title, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban suggested Dallas already has the pieces in place to accomplish that goal.
“We hadn’t been out of the first round in 10 years and so a lot of it was execution and talking to our guys during the series, that was the thing that kept coming up,” Cuban said of the Western Conference Finals matchup against the Warriors (hat tip to Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops.net). “… So I think for us it’s not so much we need that second star or whatever, it’s more, let’s just get some time and experience in crunch time situations in the playoffs and that will pay off.”
As we relayed last night, Cuban also credited Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins as a difference-maker in the series, and said Golden State’s combination of execution, experience, and adjustments made the team too difficult for the Mavericks to handle.
Cuban’s comments are noteworthy for a few different reasons. After trading Kristaps Porzingis to the Wizards for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans, the Mavs found success with lineups featuring multiple shot creators and floor spacers, as well as more versatile defenders. Obviously Porzingis was pegged to be Dallas’ second star, but things never really worked out with the 7’3″ big man for a variety of reasons.
He didn’t state it outright, but Cuban’s comments give the impression the club didn’t view Jalen Brunson as a star, and the Mavs were reportedly unwilling to match — or exceed — the contract he received in free agency from the Knicks. Brunson had a strong playoff run for Dallas, averaging 21.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG and 3.7 APG on .466/.347/.800 shooting in 18 games (34.9 MPG), so losing him will sting.
Along the same lines, it could be interpreted that Dallas doesn’t view offseason acquisition Christian Wood as a star either. The Mavs traded the No. 26 pick of the 2022 draft and four players on expiring deals to Houston to land Wood.
Of course, how a team perceives players doesn’t matter nearly as much as the on-court product, and the Mavs are coming off their most successful season since winning the championship in 2011. The question is, have they done enough to keep progressing toward another ring? With the Clippers and Nuggets getting healthy, potential improvement from the Timberwolves and Pelicans, and the Warriors, Grizzlies and Suns still in the picture, the West is going to be stacked with talent in 2022/23, so winning the title certainly won’t be easy.
Rooks’ interview with Cuban lasts over an hour and is worth checking out in full for any Dallas fans.