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Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, two of the NBA's premier iso players, offer Dallas an immense potential. Their star power and selflessness will allow them to reach new heights.
However, it will also be up to the other players on the team to step up if Doncic and Irving don't have possession of the ball. Here are a few things to watch during Dallas Mavericks' stretch run:
Kyrie Irving is an NBA player renowned for being one of the league's most talented and versatile players. Currently playing for the Brooklyn Nets, Irving recently inked a four-year contract worth $136.5 million to cement himself as one of their star players.
His tenure with the Cleveland Cavaliers saw him join LeBron James and Kevin Love as part of their "Big 3," helping them reach the NBA Finals in 2016 and eventually leading them to victory.
He is a highly rated All-Star and was selected to the 2016 All-NBA team. Additionally, he's one of basketball's most versatile players, capable of playing multiple positions. Additionally, his shot making abilities and leadership on court have earned him widespread praise.
As an NBA player, he has been an integral part of the Cleveland Cavaliers since 2014. He was part of their 2016 championship run as well as their playoff appearances.
In the 2017 NBA Finals, he was an integral part of Cleveland Cavaliers' winning team. In Game 4 against Golden State Warriors, he scored a playoff career high 40 points to help them come from behind and avoid a sweep.
Despite his success on the court, he leads a controversial off-court life. He is well known for his beliefs in conspiracy theories and thinks the Earth is flat instead of round.
He has been accused of many things throughout his career, making him a target for many teams. He has an unsettling reputation and often gets into fights. Additionally, he is very vocal when discussing certain topics.
Luka Doncic is one of two players in the NBA to begin a season with three consecutive All-Star Game appearances and leads the league in scoring at 33.3 points per game. He's also among the top five for assists and rebounds.
Doncic, born in Slovenia and playing basketball since age eight with Olimpija Ljubljana's youth team, signed with Real Madrid at 13 - becoming their youngest player and winning MVP at their under-18 Next Generation Tournament that same year.
In his first three seasons, Doncic has quickly established himself as an NBA superstar-to-be. He set one of the most remarkable rookie records in NBA history by posting one of LeBron James' highest scoring averages before turning 21 (24.2%).
It's incredibly encouraging to see his new defensive effort yielding real results. He's stealing balls and getting steals in abundance, showing signs that his buy-in on the ball has increased substantially. If these numbers continue to improve, Dallas has an excellent chance of having an impressive campaign.
Doncic's ceiling is high due to his star power, unselfishness and versatility. If his supporting cast remains as talented as it currently is, the Mavs have an excellent chance of competing for a top-four spot in the West and could make an exciting run during the playoffs.
On his return from the All-Star break, Doncic scored 28 points (8-16 FG, 1-6 3Pt, 11-12 FT), grabbed seven rebounds, handed out 10 assists, blocked two shots and stole two steals in 30 minutes against the Spurs. With these performances he is now averaging 32.7 points over his last three games while making at least 10 free throws each time out.
Dwight Powell stands out among football stars with his unselfishness. He takes initiative to do things others wouldn't, like showing up early for practice or staying late, getting extra weight-lifting and treatment sessions, communicating with teammates, eating healthily and studying film. Dwight does these things out of sheer dedication to succeed.
He's an unstoppable hustler, and his efforts have made him a valuable asset to the Mavericks. He never hesitates to put in extra effort when his team is facing hardship or the game is on the line.
That isn't to say Powell doesn't have flaws, but he understands his limitations and does his best to help the Mavericks win. It can be challenging finding players who excel in limited roles, but Powell has proven that it is possible.
As such, the Mavericks have had complete trust in him to play in crucial moments and guide their team to victory. His strong presence on the glass has been an asset for their offensive unit throughout the season.
Unfortunately, his lack of consistent contributions across other categories make him only useful in deeper leagues. That being said, his talent still has a high ceiling and could develop into an excellent role player for the Mavericks in the future.
The Mavericks have yet to find a partner for Powell on the pick and roll. Without someone who can space the floor and provide him with defensive help, Powell will most likely be used as a three-and-D player rather than as an effective ball handler within this set up.
Johnathan Pinson is a seasoned professional who draws attention with his high energy game - the kind of guy who doesn't mind getting his shot taken if it means more buckets for him. Plus, his solid frame, quick study defender skillset and knack for finding the ball have earned him three stars on the depth chart with two starts coming at wing position. With these traits combined, Johnathan Pinson has earned himself three stars on the depth chart.
Despite his size, he's a capable rim protector and can guard at least two players at once if needed. In summer league, he showed signs of being an effective perimeter defender; however, his effectiveness on that end still needs improvement. Unfortunately, he doesn't take advantage of his physical strengths enough on offense to be as efficient as he should be on the offensive end of the floor. Thankfully though, his defense has seen improvement recently as evidenced by their impressive 2-1 record in round two of playoffs.
Dallas has a number of star players in its lineup, but Hardaway could potentially return to an offensive role if he can stay efficient off the bench. After starting 37 straight games this season, Hardaway has only made 15 starts this year.
He can still score in double figures and is an ideal fit on the wings for Dallas. His speed, vision, and powerful motor combine to put pressure on teams at both ends of the court. He can dribble like a point guard and has the length and athleticism to run the floor and make quick decisions on offense. Additionally, he's an effective shot blocker and rebounder - something most teams value in today's shot clock era. Hardaway is a valuable asset in the NBA and will continue to provide consistent scoring off the bench. Despite missing two games with an injury, Hardaway demonstrated his abilities when called upon. This is encouraging news for Dallas, but Hardaway must maintain his stellar play if he wants to remain at the top of their rotation.