It’s time to continue our “meet the Mavericks” series breaking down the roster.

Rather than just running down the assets and debits of each player, we’re going to approach this year’s roster evaluation a little differently.

With a sound track.

Since the Mavericks reached the Western Conference finals last season and have made it clear that championships are the only measuring stick they will use moving forward in the Luka Dončić era, it’s time to analyze what they need from each player to someday make that a reality, preferably sooner than later.

And there’s a theme song, or two or three – basketball’s version of walk-up music, if you will – for each player.

So here we look at each player (in alphabetical order) and what they must accomplish for the Mavericks to be title worthy. We’ll assume good health for everybody, which is always the No. 1 issue.

Next up is Frank Ntilikina.

THEME SONGS: Don’t Dream It’s Over by Crowded House and It’s My Turn by Diana Ross.

STAT FROM 2021-22 THAT MUST IMPROVE: He simply has to be more efficient than the 39.9 percent shooting he displayed last season, which by the way, was the best mark of his career. Because Ntilikina shoots about half his shots from 3-point range, he’s never going to be prolific in the field-goal percentage department. But even inside the arc, he’s never gotten close to making 50 percent of his shots. So the efficiency has to improve.

BREAKDOWN: First, an explanation about those theme songs. It’s My Turn by Diana Ross has the line: It’s my turn, to see what I can see – I hope you’ll understand, this time’s just for me. For Ntilikina, it’s time. And that other song, by the way . . . we just wanted to emphasize how crowded the house is that Ntilikina is in. He’s one of the three or four or perhaps more players who are going to fight for some of the playing time left by Jalen Brunson’s departure. The Mavericks will need another playmaker in the backcourt. We know Luka Dončić is going to have the ball most of the time. But not all the time. Somebody has to step up behind him and Spencer Dinwiddie. It could be Ntilikina, the 6-5 Frenchman who played less than 12 minutes per game last season and even less in the playoffs. Or it could be Josh Green or Theo Pinson or rookie Jaden Hardy. And don’t forget about Tim Hardaway Jr., who will wedge his way back into meaningful minutes when he returns from his foot surgery. Ntilikina is a skilled defender and that always will give him a chance to get on the court. But if he remains a liability at the other end, then staying on the court is problematic. For most players, it’s the other way around. If Ntilikina, still only 24 after five seasons in the league, has worked on his shot, he’ll get the chance he’s been waiting for.

NEXT: Dwight Powell.


Theo Pinson:

JaVale McGee:

Maxi Kleber:

Jaden Hardy:

Tim Hardaway Jr.:

Josh Green:

Dorian Finney-Smith:

Tyler Dorsey:

Luka Dončić:

Spencer Dinwiddie:

Reggie Bullock:

Davis Bertans:

Twitter: @Esefko

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