It’s a pleasant problem to have, but it’s one that the Mavericks are wrestling with here in the early going of the season. Luka Doncic is a superstar, now averaging 30.8 points, 9.6 assists and 9.9 rebounds, but he’s arrived at this spot a bit ahead of schedule, even factoring in his outstanding Rookie of the Year season in 2018-19.
The Mavs have been planning to bring in help for Doncic over time, the idea being that the team could be ready to ascend next season. That started last winter when the Mavs traded for big man Kristaps Porzingis from the Knicks, figuring they’d have the time he’d need this season to bounce back from his ACL surgery and that he’d be 100 percent next year. And Porzingis has, predictably, been inconsistent, averaging 17.3 points but shooting 39.8 percent from the field.
But Doncic has been so brilliant to start this year that it might make sense for the Mavs to accelerate their plans. Tim Hardaway Jr. has been warming up to his role as the team’s No. 3 option, averaging 12.9 points overall but 20.2 in his last five games.
The Mavericks are 12-6 heading into play the Lakers on Sunday and though the Western Conference appears to be L.A.-dominant—the Clippers handled the Mavs pretty well last week—it lacks the depth many expected.
The Warriors are tanking. The Spurs, Pelicans and Blazers were expected to be West threats but are well below .500. The Mavs should be in the mix with Denver, Houston and Utah for one of the Top 4 playoff seeds in the conference.
Sizing Up the Assets Around Luka Doncic
The Mavericks had hoped to scoop up some long-term help for Doncic over the course of this season, or perhaps at next year’s draft, but the team lacks assets. It cost them two future first-rounders to bring in Porzingis, in 2021 and 2023, which leaves their 2025 first-rounder as the earliest pick the team can trade. They’re not looking to give away that pick.
The assets the Mavs have on hand are better suited to bring in low-rotation, short-term help: