Led by All-Stars Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, the Dallas Mavericks had a 40-27 record before the season was suspended. The Mavs were in seventh place in the rugged Western Conference standings and appeared on their way to making the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
Doncic is already a superstar in just his second season in the NBA. He was averaging 28.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 8.7 assists while shooting 46.1 percent from the field, 31.8 percent from beyond the arc, and 75.2 percent from the free-throw line. The Slovenian “Wonder Boy” was also in the MVP conversation alongside LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Porzingis, meanwhile, has fully recovered from his ACL tear and is once again one of the best power forwards in the NBA. The “Unicorn” appeared in 51 games for the Mavs before the season was suspended, averaging 19.2 points and 9.5 rebounds as Doncic's partner in crime.
The Mavs were forced to trade for a center after losing Dwight Powell to an Achilles tear. Dallas wound up acquiring Willie Cauley-Stein, who began the season with the Golden State Warriors. The big man put up 5.2 points and 4.6 rebounds in 13 games with the Mavs.
Dallas fans are praying that the 2019-20 season resumes because they are eager to see Doncic and Porzingis make their playoff debuts and showcase their skills on the NBA's biggest stage. However, the Mavs have to prepare for a scenario where the season gets canceled altogether.
Should that be the case, here are some moves Dallas can make to improve the team and become legitimate title threats in the West.
3. Let Courtney Lee Walk, Sign Justin Holiday
The Mavs should let Courtney Lee walk in free agency and replace him with Holiday. Justin shot 42.4 percent from beyond the arc for the Indiana Pacers this season while averaging 8.4 points in 65 games.
At 6-foot-6, Holiday is the perfect guard/wing for Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle to bring off the bench since the veteran is versatile. For the most part, Dallas will ask Holiday to stretch the floor with his 3-point shooting and make himself available to Doncic and Porzingis when the two All-Stars are commanding double-teams in the post. Holiday can also guard positions one through four effectively.
Justin does most of his damage on catch-and-shoot shots, although the one-time NBA champion can put the ball on the floor and create shots off the dribble from time to time.
2. Sign Meyers Leonard
Leonard becomes an unrestricted free agent this offseason. He's another player who would be a good fit in Dallas. The former Portland Trail Blazer averaged 6.1 points while shooting 42.9 percent from deep for the Miami Heat this 2019-20.
The more shooters the Mavs can surround Doncic and Porzingis with, the better. At 7 feet, Leonard can do a lot of damage on the perimeter while still being able to help Dallas on the boards with his large frame.
1. Acquire DeMar DeRozan
The Mavs can sign DeRozan in free agency if he declines his 2020-21 player-option with the San Antonio Spurs. Multiple reports have said that DeRozan is unhappy in San Antonio, so the expectation is that he will opt for free agency.
Dallas struggles to score the ball efficiently when one of Doncic or Porzingis is on the bench. The Mavs would be fortunate if they had DeRozan — one of the best mid-range scorers in the game — serve as the team's third option on offense.
Because he doesn't shoot 3-pointers, there won't be too much floor spacing when DeRozan is out there with Doncic and Porzingis. However, Luka could come off the ball a little bit and Dallas could run its half-court offense through DeRozan in the post. That will decrease Doncic's usage rate and allow him to spot up from 3 while DeRozan is collapsing the paint.
The ball is always going to be in Doncic's hands when the fate of the game matters in the fourth quarter, so having two guys in Porzingis and DeRozan to ease Luka's burden through the first three periods would be very beneficial for the Mavs.