The Dallas Mavericks had arguably the most surprising playoff run of any team last season. After ending the Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert era in Utah, Dallas matched up with the top-seeded Phoenix Suns in the second round. The Mavs fell behind early in the series but rallied to force a game seven, in which they humiliated the Suns in a 123-90 blowout.

The Mavs’ run came to an end the next round in a five-game series against the eventual-champion Warriors. Even with the loss to the Golden State Warriors, Dallas exceeded expectations with this run. With Luka Doncic among the league’s best players and still young, Dallas should be a contender for years to come.

The Mavs gave their roster some tweaks this offseason. Most notably, Jalen Brunson left for a massive payday from the New York Knicks in free agency. Instead of signing a big fish themselves, Dallas opted to sign a litany of depth players to help support Doncic.

Dallas should be a contender in the west this season, but some questions about the roster still linger. In particular, JaVale McGee should be looking over his shoulder ahead of Mavs training camp.

Mavs player in danger of losing starting job: JaVale McGee

When the word “journeyman” comes up, McGee is one of the first NBA players to pop up. The 34-year-old center is far from a bad player, and his 14 seasons in the league attest to that. However, he has struggled to stick around with every team he has been a part of.

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McGee began his career with the Washington Wizards, where he played for three and a half seasons. That was his longest tenure with any team, as he has only played on other teams for two years or less, with the Mavs being one of them in the 2015-16 season. Still, he has found success throughout his career, including two rings with the Warriors in 2017 and 2018 and another with the Lakers in 2020.

Recently, McGee spent last season with Phoenix and helped them win 64 games in the regular season. McGee played in 74 games, averaging 9.2 points and 6.7 rebounds in 15.8 minutes per game. His stats took a slight hit in the playoffs, averaging 6.8 points and four rebounds per game, but he also played less with just 11.1 minutes per night.

Even with the decline in the playoffs, McGee still had a solid year, and Dallas took note. The Mavs signed him to a three-year, $20.1 million deal this offseason, and he appears to be the team’s starting center this season. That would be all well and good, but the Mavs also acquired a better big man this offseason.

Dallas acquired Christian Wood from the in-state-rival Houston Rockets this offseason. The Mavs paid a hefty price to get him, sending four players and the 26th overall pick to the Rockets. However, that price is well worth it for a player of Wood’s caliber.

Since arriving in Houston in 2020, Wood has stepped up his game considerably. He played in 41 games for the 2020-21 Rockets, who had the worst record in the league, and averaged a career-high 21 points and 9.6 rebounds. Last season, he scored a slightly lower 17.9 points per game, but improved in other areas with 10.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists on average.

Considering Wood’s better stats and the cost to get him, he should definitely be starting over McGee. The Mavs could even have both of them in the starting lineup, with Wood at power forward and McGee at center. However, if only one of them can be in the starting lineup, Wood is the clear choice.