Column: NBA season starts, Mavericks look ahead

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Jayden Conley

As the new NBA season tips underway, commissioner Adam Silver announced the logo for the NBA’s 75th anniversary. The first three days are set to announce the 75 greatest players in NBA history. “I’ve been watching the NBA, especially the Mavericks, for years.” sports writer and Junior Jayden Conley said. “I’m excited to see Dirk Nowitzki on that list of greats. He’s earned his mark when he won the NBA championship in 2011.”

Jayden Conley, Sports Writer

Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

The National Basketball Association celebrates its 75th anniversary, as the new season tips off on Oct. 19, with the Brooklyn Nets and reigning NBA champions, Milwaukee Bucks.

Bucks are one of the top teams in the league with star player, Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has been dominating since he was drafted in 2013. Averaging nearly a 20 point double-double in his career, but just last year he averaged a 28 point – 11 assist double-double.

Last year, Antetokounmpo became just only the 11th player in NBA history to have won a regular-season MVP(2), Finals MVP and an All-Star game MVP.

The Nets on the other hand finished with a 48-24 season, placing them second in the Eastern Conference, just above the Bucks who finished third.

This squad has been the most explosive in team history since they won the championship in 1976. They have players like Kevin Durant, who is to be named one of the top 75 best players in NBA history, and James Harden, who averaged a 24 point – 10.9 assist double-double with the Nets, after getting traded from the Houston Rockets in January 2021.

Another player on that list is Kyrie Irving. He’s a key factor for this Nets team in terms of scoring opportunities, ranking him in the top 10. Unfortunately, though, he’s been ruled ineligible to play because he did not follow the COVID-19 vaccine protocol in New York.

This leaves it up to Harden and Durant whom many would assume to be the best dynamic duo in the league.

Here are their stats from the 2020-2021 season:

Harden averages 21 points, 11.7 assists, and 7.8 rebounds when Durant is on the floor.

When Durant plays with Harden, he averages 25 points, 4.9 assists, and 7.5 rebounds.

Together they averaged 51.5 points, 16.5 assists, and 15.6 rebounds for the Nets.

Who can argue with that? Those stats are extremely impressive.

Although, there has been one player that has stood out like no other — Dallas Mavericks Slovenian superstar, Luka Dončić, or as some people like to call him back in Slovenia, “Wonder Boy.”

It makes sense, he’s been playing pro ball in the EuroLeague since he was just 13 years old. He’s won countless awards throughout his career like winning the EuroLeague Championship, as well as winning the EuroLeague MVP, and making All-EuroLeague first team. Not to mention he won two EuroLeague Rising Stars in back-to-back seasons which is extremely rare in Europe.

After getting drafted by the Mavericks in 2018, Dončić went on to have the most impactful rookie season in NBA history, and is only the second rookie ever, behind Oscar Robertson, to record at least 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists a game.

That being said, the 19-year-old, Dončić, became the first teenager in NBA history to record multiple triple-doubles in a season. Also became the first teenager and youngest player to score a 30 point triple-double, surpassing Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James, who made that mark 14 years ago.

With that kind of play, he earned himself both the NBA All-Rookie First Team and NBA Rookie of the year awards in 2019.

Dončić helped improve his team the next year, clinching the 7th seed in the Western Conference to give him his first taste of a playoff appearance against the 2nd seed Los Angeles Clippers. In his first game, he made history, scoring 42 points, which was the most ever in a playoff debut.

Later into the series, the Clippers were leading 1-2 against the Mavericks. It was the fourth game of the series, which was considered a deciding factor if the Mavericks were capable of playing with the big dogs. Dončić is known as a clutch shooter, so with 3.7 seconds left in overtime, down by one, he hit this clutch shot to tie the series at two apiece.

This shot was the most significant highlight of Dončić’s career. It sparked the conversation of many people comparing him to Boston Celtics Hall of Famer, Larry Bird, one of the most clutch shooters in the history of the game.

Tim Hardaway Jr. is Dončić’s duo partner for the Mavericks. He’s versatile and engaged on the court giving the same energy as Dončić does, creating the most scoring opportunities last season. Everyone thinks Kristaps Porziņģis is Dončić’s duo, but that’s just not true. People need to get out of their old habits by grouping the Shooting Guards or Point Guards with the Centers or Power Forwards.

The game has changed to points first, defense, well, hardly ever-expanding the court predominately to the 3-point line. Every team scores well over 100 points, which was unseen during the ’80s and ’90s where teams focused on the defensive fundamentals of the court.

This gives the reasons for having a Shooting Guard and a Point Guard as the team’s dynamic duo because you need players who can shoot the ball in critical times.

Given this, a 6th man is arguably one of the most important players on a team. Having a point guard like Mavericks 6th man, Jalen Brunson, who should’ve won 6th man of the year, not only gives the Mavericks someone else on the floor that can shoot, but they can rely on him to the clutch shots.

All in all, the Mavericks nonetheless have a great team filled with superstars. Undoubtedly, they have a great chance of making the playoffs and even a good run at that.

Mavericks are set to face off Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks, Thursday, Oct. 21, for the first game of the 2021 season. The Mavericks dealt with an unexpected resignation of former head coach Rick Carlisle at the end of the 2020-2021 season and set the move to former Mavericks player, one-time NBA champion, Jason Kidd.

It’ll take time before this Mavericks team gets used to the adjustment, but they always play with a chip on their shoulder which leaves no doubt in Dallas for a fantastic season.

It’s time the underdogs of the conference to be unleashed from their setbacks of playoff failures from the past years and finally take another championship home. Nothing excites these Dallas fans more than rubbing their championships in people’s faces.

As funny as it is, this team has a great shot at making the NBA Finals.

It’s going to be a roller coaster of emotions for this 82 game ride. They will fail – pick themselves up and push past all the critiques that say they can’t do it because ultimately that’s what they do.

The most successful teams will be the ones that can handle the constant pressure of the sketchiness of the packed crowds in away games, and the consistency of being judged by the fans and old heads who are stuck in the 90’s Michael Jordan phase.

At the end of the day, it boils down to either keeping up or getting left behind because nobody is taking the easy road in the league.