Welcome to the first Mavericks’ mailbag of the regular season.

And what a first week of the schedule it has been. Don’t even try to fake it and claim that you had Portland and Utah as the top four seeds in the Western Conference after a little more than a week of play.

And if you had the Trail Blazers as the last unbeaten team in the West, you either are fibbing or you are banned in Las Vegas.

But what we can all say with complete truthfulness is that the Mavericks are a long way from being a finished product. And that’s OK because the season is a long way from taking any sort of shape that we can believe.

Don’t trust the eye test when you look at the standings in October. They will change.

But what also has to change is that the Mavericks need to start taking care of business.

They are 1-2 and have lost the two games that came down to the wire.

That’s not great news when the emphasis going into this first month of the season, when 11 of 16 games are at American Airlines Center, was to get off to a better start than last season, when COVID-19 and other issues combined to delay their takeoff.

Remember, they were under .500 on New Year’s Day.

So this year, it’s got to be different. Let’s all just keep our eye on the ball and not start counting wins before they are banked. The schedule is home-friendly, true, after Thursday’s visit to Brooklyn. But those games don’t win themselves.

Now is the time for the Mavericks to get ahead of the curve.

And with that, we move on to a few of your weekly questions:

Question of the week: Who among the bench brigade (beside Christian Wood) needs to step up and be a force with the second unit? Lyndon H.

Sefko: This is not an easy one, Lyndon. The Mavericks have a deep roster with lots of players who have been rotation players or even starters, but now are being asked to fill a role that may or may not include consistent minutes. My gut tells me that Tim Hardaway Jr. still has to be a major factor for this team. He’s got the experience and the attitude to make stuff happen, regardless of when his minutes come. That would be my first choice. But this could go many ways. What if Tyler Dorsey, who has been known to run off a slew of games in a row in international play when he just lit it up from 3-point range, got onto one of those hot streaks? He could be a valuable floor spacer in the right situation. The same goes for Facu Campazzo, the 5-10 newcomer. Even rookie Jaden Hardy cannot be dismissed because he’s got the athleticism and the shot-making ability to carry a load for this team later in the season when he gains some much-needed experience. I know that’s hedging my bet with a lot of options, but picking one from that group is a good way to look bad in the long run.

Q: Has Christian Wood’s performance so far erased the loss of Jalen Brunson’s production? Are the Mavs better now? Master B.

Sefko: The sample size is way to small. If you based Jalen Brunson’s impact on the first three games of the playoffs last spring, he’s irreplaceable. And let’s not overlook the fact that he has the New York Knicks at 3-1 in the early going. But so far, there are no knocks at all on Wood’s showing and if he continues to flourish off the bench, he can start clearing a spot for the sixth-man trophy before Christmas. But again, this is a long haul. He’s off to a fabulous start and if he keeps it up, he’ll be paid handsomely next July. But remember, the Mavericks have had a very friendly start to the season. They played only two games in the first six days and the schedule gets a lot busier, starting with three games in four days starting at Brooklyn. I’m still not very smart after all these years, but I have learned that making snap judgments in the NBA is a sure way to embarrass yourself. Just look at the Western Conference standings after a week (see above).

Q: What’s your opinion on Luka’s new shoe? And which uniform are you partial to? Erica T.

Sefko: Anybody who’s read this mailbag on any sort of consistent basis knows my opinion on shoes and uniforms: I’m in favor of players wearing them. But I know the young generation of NBA fans puts a lot of stock (and a lot of $$$) into the shoe industry. I like Luka’s new shoe. And I’m particularly glad that it’s relatively reasonably priced. Shoes that go for $200 or more turn me off. That you can get Luka’s for around a hundred bucks (still pricy in this old dude’s book) is commendable. As for uniforms, I liked the ones with the Dallas skyline silhouetted on them. And I’m a big fan of the traditional Mavericks or Dallas on the front chest. Anything with neon colors can be used as kindling for my next fire pit I have on the back-40..

Q: OK, so we know you’re not a big fan of those teams that started hot, but which one do you think has at least a puncher’s chance of having staying power? Jeff S.

Sefko: If you’re talking about this season, let’s give a little respect to the Portland Trail Blazers. Start with Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons. Then add in Jerami Grant. They have a really solid starting lineup with Jusuf Nurkic and Josh Hart. Now are they a little light in the depth department? Yes, although Justise Winslow will help. This is a talented team. If they can avoid serious injuries, they are going to be a difficult team to keep out of the playoffs – or at least the play-in tournament. But if you’re talking long-term, it’s the Utah Jazz. They hae Lauri Markkanen, who everybody has been waiting on to step up to being a star-level player. And they have a couple of older players, Mike Conley and Rudy Gay, who will be gone in the next year or two. And a tradeable asset in Jordan Clarkson. Plus three first-round picks in 2023 and a slew of other picks in the following few seasons. This team is poised for a quick rebuild.

Twitter: @ESefko

Share and comment

More Mavs News