We continue our “Seasons in Review” series with a look at Mavs Gaming, who sprinted out of the gates with heady expectations before crashing back to earth.
Check out the latest installment of this series, where Will Beverina took a look at Pacers Gaming, which seems poised to be one of the scariest teams in the league in 2019.
Current roster: Dimez
Protections: Dimez, Dayfri
Offseason transactions: Traded Dayfri to Wizards District Gaming for a first-round pick (No. 14) in the entry draft.
Draft picks: 1st round (5th overall), 1st (14th), 2nd (25th), 3rd (41st), 4th (57th)
The Good: The Mavs capitalized on their wealth of talent early on, advancing in The Tipoff tournament and securing a top record before The Turn. The Mavs and first-overall pick Dimez in particular got lots of media attention throughout the season. Their early press defense enabled the team to finish at the top of the league in steals per game, and the team shot extremely well from beyond the arc, finishing atop the league at a 52.4 percent clip. JLB, the league’s only German player, got to meet Dirk Nowitzki. The team also unveiled a terrific, much-lauded practice facility.
The Bad: The team’s identity and integrity collapsed. The Mavs went winless from Week 7 until Week 12 (not including a Ticket opening-round victory), juggling lineups and plummeting in the playoff race. The lineup changes sent Dimez to the Shot-creating Slasher and eventually to power forward, while Dayfri slid from center to small forward to point guard. Less talented teams beat them consistently. The Mavs finished dead last in the ultra-important category of rebounding. As their integrity dissolved, positivity scurried after it, and the team looked like a shell of its former self on the court. The Mavs seemed crushed by the pressure of expectations surrounding the team and surrounding Dimez. Let’s not even get into the drama around the since-departed (for the Overwatch League) Roger Caneda.
The Good: The Mavs overhauled their esports personnel, bringing in respected esports veterans Trey Christensen and Jonathan Miller (congrats on the wedding, Jon!) to head the front office. The team made a good hire in Toijuin Fairely, MPBA leader and former Bucks draft analyst. They’re starting from the talented base that Dimez provides, and they emphatically believe in him. They’ve got the largest social media following among league teams with which to work and a great facility in which to do so. They’ll also have the 5th and 14th picks in the draft to accelerate the rebuild after trading Dayfri to Wizards District Gaming.
The Bad: They traded a phenomenal player for a worse return than they would have gotten had they only waited a few days. Skilled and proven coach Jonah Edwards resigned after the season; while the LT hire is a good one, there’s really no one of comparable experience available for a team that needs strong leadership. They’ll have to pick essentially a whole new team, and part of the selection process will fall on an as-yet untested front office whose 2k community IQ has upward room to grow. The Mavs have to integrate five new players into their team and their culture. They haven’t proven they can win.
The Big Question
Is Dimez the one?
We ask the big questions here, don’t we? This one’s fairly nebulous, but the import is clear. Is Dimez the guy for the future for this team? He’s clearly talented, and his competitive Pro-Am record generally speaks for itself. The Mavs brain trust certainly believes in him, and has given him lots of free reign and no doubt much input on their coach hiring and their future draft picks.
But he hasn’t proven to be a particularly good GM (not that he necessarily operated in that capacity last season). He hasn’t proven to be a winner in the league, despite being the clear top dog on a talented team. He wasn’t able to make it work, apparently, with another very skilled player in Dayfri—will he be able to make it work with five new players? His top-5 scoring and usage rate numbers were inflated by his time at the Shot-creating Slasher, where he did not play well overall. His turnover rate is 3 percent higher than the four players with a higher usage rate. His league-leading steals per game are cancelled out by his top-3 turnovers per game. He takes very few three-pointers per game.
Part of what makes Dimez good is his distinct style of play. When he controls the game, he does so in the midrange, which puts all but the most disciplined of defenses in a bind. He is extremely good in the pick-and-roll. He’s not the best defender in the world. He’s intensely competitive, and that often means he’s far from the most positive teammate.
Yet his is also the most star-like personality in the league, developed by the media tour he went on before the season started. His social media following is unparalleled in the league. He’s the first overall pick who shook hands with Adam Silver, the NBA 2K player that the person who doesn’t follow the league has heard of. That matters to the Mavs. It matters a lot to the league.
The Mavs think they have an easy answer to this question. 2019 had better prove them right.