Are the 2018-19 Dallas Mavericks Good?

The Dallas Mavericks bottomed out as a franchise in 2017-18, dropping all the way to 24-58 after a fairly consistent run of being at least decent for pretty much the entirety of Mark Cuban’s tenure owning the team.

But that’s what happens when your franchise-defining player finally gets washed up, and Dirk Nowitzki is washed up.

Dallas won 33 games in 2016-17. They won 24 last year. They’re supposed to win 34.5 or better this year.

Is that crazy talk? Or will the likes of Luka Doncic and second-year Dennis Smith Jr. be enough to drag the Mavs back to something resembling decent again?

Well…I’ve got some bad news for you…

2017-18 Record: 24-58
2018-19 Over/Under: 34.5

The Worst of the Worst Play Here

Consider that last year, three players played at least 2,500 minutes and had a negative VORP.

One was Carmelo Anthony. Another was Andrew Wiggins. The third was Harrison Barnes.

And Barnes makes $24 million.

The Mavs are the only team in basketball whose ostensible best player puts up numbers so bad that the advanced stats say he belongs in the G-League. This is not a good start.

But Wait, There’s More

Speaking of players who suck, of all rookies in the NBA last year, Smith was the third-worst in terms of Win Shares at -0.7, beating out just Frank Ntilikina (-0.9) and Josh Jackson (-0.7) on the list of guys who were essentially letting the other team play 6-on-4 with a mole undermining their teams’ performance.

Smith’s shooting was cover-your-eyes awful (39.5 percent overall, 31.3 from three), and Smith led all rookies in turnovers with 194.

He might turn it around in Year 2, but so far, he looks like a guy ill-qualified for the role he’s being thrust into.

There Are No Stars Here

The Mavs’ top VORP guy? Dwight Powell, at 2.0. As I pointed out Monday, the Pacers have two guys on their bench (Kyle O’Quinn and Tyreke Evans) who did better than that on their teams last year, both clocking 2.3 (O’Quinn in New York, Reek in Memphis.)

Wesley Matthews and Nowitzki clocked in at 1.1 each, and Dirk’s not getting there again as he enters what is likely to be his final season looking more like Shaq on the Celtics than the Dirk who won a title in 2011.

On the bright side, believe it or not, Dirk had the lowest turnover percentage of all qualified NBA players last year. So there’s that.

Luka On The Second Floor

Doncic’s ceiling is Super Saiyan Goran Dragic. He immediately demotes Melania Trump to America’s Third-Best Slovenian. (I mean, I don’t know a lot of Slovenian-Americans. Tweet some @ me. RealFoxD, but you should be following me already.)

His floor is Regular Goran Dragic, and Dragic did make the All-Star team last year, so…

My point is that even LeBron couldn’t push the ’04 Cavs to more than 35 wins, and Luka ain’t 2003-04 LeBron.

But DeAndre Jordan!

Yeah, what about him?

When he didn’t have Chris Paul getting him the ball, he went from threatening Wilt Chamberlain‘s record for field goal percentage (Wilt’s record is 72.7 percent; Jordan’s in 2017 was 71.7) to a downright ordinary low post-bound center (64.5 last year.)

He plays defense like his feet are nailed to the ground, his one offensive move is “the lob the jam”, and while a 37.6 defensive rebounding percentage is absolutely off-the-charts amazing (and led the league last year), that is good for approximately jack squat if your own team can’t make the best of its possessions.

The Mavs were 15th in opponents’ 3-point percentage last year. With Jordan unable to guard the perimeter, and the backcourt guys not exactly Tony Allen and Bruce Bowen on defense, it’s gonna be a three-point party in Dallas and the whole NBA’s invited.

THE VERDICT!

Unless Doncic becomes the next “Best European Player” to replace the one who’s leaving, the Mavs might actually be worse than last year.

I could see a scenario where this team goes 15-67 more easily than I could see them going 35-47 to clear that over/under.

Busted. Under. No way. Not a chance in hell. The Mavs are going to suck and suck hard.\