The picks kept coming, one after another, each having an impact on the Dallas Mavericks.

San Antonio got two strong, talented players, at least one of which is NBA-ready and both of whom have Spurs-cred all over them.

Oklahoma City piled up big men like sportswriters stacking up cookies at the buffet line.

All around the Mavericks, Western Conference competition stocked up talent on draft night, 2022.

So while the Mavericks waited to see what happens with their draft pick – they took Wendell Moore Jr. with the 26th pick, but it’s uncertain where he’ll eventually end up – the rest of the West fortified itself.

While the Mavericks figure to get better, too, it begs the question of what has to happen for them to keep the forward momentum of a trip to the Western Conference finals this season going in the right direction.

“There’s a lot of things that have to happen,” general manager Nico Harrison said before the draft began Thursday evening. “One, we have got to stay healthy. We’ve got to make sure that we keep the same connectedness that we had last year.

“There’s no guarantee, even with staying healthy and playing good basketball, that you are going to go to the Western Conference Finals and top it. There’s no guarantee. It takes a lot of luck. It takes a lot of good luck, good matchups, and good fortune. We could have a better team on paper, like we had to start last year, and there’s still no guarantee. The West is tough.”

Harrison then rattled off the Los Angeles Clippers, who figure to get vastly improved, as well as other teams.

But it will be different for the Mavericks next season. Rather than having to pass competitors, they will have to fend them off. Teams like Memphis, which got multiple picks in the middle of the first round – an area of the draft they have done well in during recent seasons.

And then there’s Oklahoma City, which already had rising young stars in Josh Giddey and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, added Chet Holmgren (No. 2) and Ousmane Dieng (No. 11 in a trade) to fortify their front line.

If there was any question that the Thunder will be a strong force in the coming years, the doubters are growing quiet.

So the Mavericks will have another stern test ahead of them.

“Teams are going to come back,” Harrison said. “The Clippers are going to come back better than they were. Other teams are going to come back better. I don’t think there’s a guarantee. Our goal is to come back better and give ourselves an opportunity to do what we do. There’s no guarantee.”

One thing that the Mavericks have going for them going into 2022-23 is that they are not breaking in a new system with a new coach.

Jason Kidd will be going into his second season heading the Mavericks and the core – assuming that Jalen Brunson is re-signed – will remain mostly unchanged.

“Yeah, I think that’s important,” Harrison said. “The things I talk about is our team and the connectiveness that we had. You see how we kind of started off slow last year, so I think the beauty of us – and I said we’ll be better at the start of the season than we were last year – well, part of that is having continuity. It’s extremely important.”

Given the way the competition in the West got better on Thursday night, the Mavericks know it’s not going to be easy heading forward.

Luka’s update: Harrison said he’s glad to see the social-media posts that show Luka Dončić working out in Slovenia as he prepares for national team duties.

“It definitely makes me excited to know that he’s in the gym working out and preparing for next year, especially, so soon after the season,” Harrison said.

When asked if Luka will be in better condition than he was at the start of last season. “I’m hopeful. I would bet on Luka,” he said. “I would bet that he would come in in a lot better shape than last year.”

Twitter: @ESefko

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