The Dallas Mavericks embarked on a journey from Dallas to Abu Dhabi, landing 19 hours later. Despite the long flight and being in a foreign country, the team’s focus remained on the same issues they had been addressing back home: rebounding and defense.
The Mavericks have had a history of being a weak rebounding team. During the last season, they had a negative rebound margin of -5.9 per game, allowing their opponents to maintain possession of the ball excessively. In the 2021-22 season, the margin was slightly better but still negative at -0.6. The only season since 2011 where they advanced past the first round of the playoffs was when they had a nearly even rebounding margin. The 2019-20 season was the last time the Mavericks had a positive rebounding average, thanks to Luka Dončić and Kristaps Porzingis, who both averaged over nine rebounds per game.
Luka Dončić emphasized the need for better rebounding during his media session at the start of the camp. To address this, the team drafted Dereck Lively II with the No. 12 overall pick. Richaun Holmes, another new addition to the team, has also been a reliable rebounder in the past. Coach Jason Kidd mentioned that adjustments to the team’s defensive schemes are in the works to improve their rebounding capabilities.
The Mavericks are not lacking in defensive talent. Although they lost Dorian Finney-Smith, their best defender, they acquired Grant Williams in free agency. Williams has been tasked with guarding top players like Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden. Dereck Lively II, standing at 7-1, is also expected to be a significant rim protector for the team. Tim Hardaway Jr. praised Lively, comparing him to Tyson Chandler and stating that his rebounding ability would be a significant asset for the Mavericks.
According to Tim Hardaway Jr., the team’s defense was not the issue last season; it was their inability to secure rebounds and end possessions that hurt them. He believes that the young, athletic players on the team understand defensive principles and that the focus should be on improving rebounding to create more offensive opportunities.
Before leaving for the Middle East, Dwight Powell shared his thoughts on the value of experiencing different cultures. He believes that the trip will provide an excellent opportunity for the team to bond. Powell is also looking forward to inviting some of his friends who live in that part of the world to the games in Abu Dhabi.
The NBA announced that the Mavericks’ game against the Los Angeles Lakers on January 17 would now start at 7:30 p.m., Dallas time, and will be broadcast on ABC instead of ESPN. The home game against Phoenix on January 24 will also have a time change but will remain on ESPN.