It’s OK to dream, Mavericks fans.
In fact, when you’ve been lingering around .500 for a couple weeks, it’s highly encouraged.
So go ahead and envision a day when Luka Dončić and Jalen Brunson are alongside each other for the jump ball on a regular basis.
It’s not farfetched. In fact, it’s a safe bet that starting Brunson with Dončić in the backcourt has been on coach Jason Kidd’s mind more than a time or two.
But before we see it, health has to be addressed. Until Dončić recovers from left ankle soreness that is severe enough that he will miss his second consecutive game Monday against Charlotte, the dream pairing can’t happen.
This has been a common issue. Injuries continue to complicate their situation, particularly when it comes to the backcourt.
First, it was Brunson, who played so well as the Mavericks’ sixth man that he was making a case to be a starter until he had a foot injury against the Clippers that hindered him for a couple of games.
He’s now scored in double figures in all seven games since and is playing like somebody who should be in the starting lineup.
But now, Dončić has been slowed by his left foot, a residual problem that started when he missed three games with sprains in his left leg to his knee and ankle against Denver on Nov. 15. Dončić tweaked the left foot in Friday’s loss at Indiana, which is why he has sat out two games. It remains to be seen if he’ll be able to return against the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday, a marquee game against LeBron James and Co. Dončić would dearly love to play in.
And, if Dončić has to sit for any extended period, it’s that much less time that he can build chemistry with Brunson.
Remember, these two were drafted together in 2018. They have become good friends. Dončić said before a recent national telecast that he believes Brunson is the player who has the ability and the mentality to become more of a playmaker.
Perhaps that’s why Kidd has taken to playing Brunson and Dončić together more often over the last week or so.
“JB was playing at a very high level before he had the injury and now he’s working back to get that rhythm,” Kidd said. “We’re going to need that.
“We’re trying to play him and Luka together to relieve some of that pressure that teams are putting on Luka toward ballhandling and Jalen’s done a great job for us.”
Kidd obviously likes to have at least one of them on the court at all times. But when they both get together, they can put a serious strain on defenders.
And easing the burden on Dončić is imperative. He has the ball in his hands more than anybody else on the roster. But that can wear a player down. And it might open up a lot more options offensively for the Mavericks.
Eventually, the Mavericks may get to the point where they play Brunson and Dončić together at the start of games. But the timing must be right.
But in the meantime, as Dončić tries to regain health, it’s perfectly fine for MFFLs to dream.
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