Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wants every fan to remember one thing when it comes to his team.
“When you have Luka (Doncic), everybody’s talking about you,” Cuban told Mavs.com. “You can’t ever make predictions. You’ve got to play the game.
“There’s 30 teams right now, and 27 of them think they have a good shot of making the playoffs and potentially making noise in the playoffs. So we’ve got to get good, especially in the West, because it’s tough. So it’s wide open.”
As the Western Conference is wide open, Cuban knows with Doncic as his team’s go-to player the Mavs’ chances of being the last team standing out West are just as good as the next team. He also knows as Doncic matures, his game will be even better than it’s been the past two seasons when he was named to the All-NBA first teams.
Doncic showed off his first-team All-NBA skills on Saturday night as he collected 27 points, nine rebounds and 12 assists during the Mavs’ 103-95 road win over the Toronto Raptors. That includes a high-arching floater as the shot clock was about to expire that put the Mavs ahead, 99-86, with 1:31 remaining in the game.
“Every player at (age) 22, there’s room for improvement, and he just keeps on working to get better,” Cuban said. “This is his fourth year, but really it’s only his third year, because two of those years were kind of cut (due to the coronavirus)
Cuban also anticipates forward/center Kristaps Porzingis being better than he was last season.
“I expect him to be KP – the Unicorn,” Cuban said. “I think between him and Luka and just the energy and the vibe, there’s just a lot of pieces that will come together.
“In particularly, I’m more excited about our defense. How we do will be dependent on our defense.”
And some of that improvement on defense, Cuban maintains, should come from the offseason acquisition of Reggie Bullock, who is a certified 3-and-D player.
“Bullock is all that,” Cuban said. “He plays hard, he makes shots. He’s the prototype of a 3-and-D player.
“Maybe Bullock is what 3-and-D guys aspire to be. He knows that, he takes pride in that and he’s a pro who comes to work.”
Cuban also likes 22-year old center Moses Brown, who the Mavs acquired from the Boston Celtics this summer in exchange for Josh Richardson.
“He’s a beast,” Cuban said. “He’s still learning the game, but he’s got a chance to be really, really good. Our guys are really impressed with him.
“He came in, he worked out, and he’s just continued to get better and better. He’s probably improved more than any other player this summer.”
It was a summer where the Mavs stewed over a first-round playoff exit to the Los Angeles Clippers in a series that was as odd as any this organization has ever been involved in. The Mavs won the first two games of the series in LA, went home and dropped the next two games, then won Game 5 in Los Angeles to take a 3-2 lead in the series.
However, the Mavs lost Game 6 at home and Game 7 in LA.
“I can’t explain it,” Cuban said. “I have no idea. It was a weird playoffs in general, with guys getting hurt.
“Who knows? But that was last year.”
And this year, Doncic is among the top candidates to capture this year’s Most Valuable Player award.
“But he’s got to earn it,” Cuban said. “He’s got to prove it.”
KIDD AMONG 75 GREATEST PLAYERS: Jason Kidd said “it was surreal” when he found out late this week that he had been named to the NBA’s list of the 75 greatest players of all time during the league’s 75-year history.
Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash and Dennis Rodman were the only other players that played for the Mavs who were selected to that illustrious list.
Kidd, in his first season coaching the Mavs, found out about the honor on Thursday night while his team was in Atlanta and playing the Hawks.
“It’s a great honor, but I was more worried about the Hawks than being named to that list,” Kidd said. “Those names are incredible, so it’s humbling.
“I’ll have time in the summer to think about it, but right now I’m just trying to put my guys in the best position to win.”
In 19 seasons, Kidd averaged 12.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 8.7 assists, and also was a 10-time All-Star, a five-time assist champion and led the Mavs to the 2011 NBA title. In addition, the mercurial point guard was All-NBA six times, was voted to the All-Defensive team nine times and was co-Rookie of the Year with Grant Hill in 1995.
Kidd was only in his third season when the NBA announced the 50 greatest players of all time. Those players were honored at halftime of the 1997 NBA All-Star game in Cleveland, and the 75 greatest players will be honored – again in Cleveland – when the 2022 All-Star game will be played on Feb. 20.
“I remember the 50th,” Kidd said. “They had the leather coats. There were a lot of old men being presented coats.
“At the time I wasn’t really focused on trying to get a coat. I felt that I was too young to think about that.”
The 75 players were chosen by a blue-ribbon panel of former and current players, general managers, coaches, media and team executives.
“It’s an honor to see that history of the game,” Kidd said. “And I’m joking about them being older. But those guys at the 50th is an incredible list. A lot of history.
“A lot of records are held by those young men, so it’s an honor to be able to be on that list. They had to expand it, and I’m glad they expanded it and found room for me.”