The Dallas Mavericks are basking in the glow of their first ever championship — taking part in a championship parade, going to the bathroom with the Larry O’Brien trophy and getting arrested. You know, all the good stuff.
But the question has already come up — can they do it again.
The Mavericks think so. Although, not sure what else you expect them to say (“No, we only wanted the one, we’re good now”). They said as much to the Star-Telegram.
“Our plan is to get the same crew back and let’s take another run at it,” Mavericks general manager Donnie Nelson said. “In an ideal world this team would come back and we’d make another run.”
To make any kind of run the Mavericks first are going to have to bring back Tyson Chandler and Caron Butler — Chandler is their defensive anchor and Butler may be coming off knee surgery but he was their second best player. Their starting five with him in the lineup was statistically the best five-man lineup in the league. Also, they want to bring back J.J. Barea. Whether to bring back Peja Stojakovic and DeShawn Stevenson are other questions. Whatever it takes, we know Mark Cuban will spend it if it improves the team.
Even if Dallas can get the band back together, they are going to find that the path to a repeat is far more challenging than winning the first. The Mavericks flew under the radar this season, even during the playoffs. Next season, the target is on their back from day one. Playing with that is different. The Mavs are a veteran team, but this will still be a new experience.
Another challenge to a repeat will be the obstacles in the way.
Oklahoma City made it to the conference finals with all their core players under the age of 22 — they are learning and they are going to come back better. They will have Kendrick Perkins for an entire training camp to integrate him. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are still improving. Their front office makes smart additions and probably will again this summer. They will be better.
The Lakers will see changes but still will have Kobe Bryant and a long and skilled front line. They are still a serious threat. Then there are plenty of other good teams out West like the Spurs and Trail Blazers that will not make getting back to the finals easy.
Then if they do get back to the finals, the Miami Heat will be better (you think they’re bringing Mike Bibby back as a starter?), and the Chicago Bulls could pose a real challenge.
Dallas is good, but they will need to be better to repeat. With a largely veteran team coming back, can they do that? After watching them the last two months, I wouldn’t bet against them.