No one expected Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks to make it this far.

Heading into the recently concluded season, most pundits predicted that the Denver Nuggets would win the Western Conference and take home a second consecutive NBA title.

During the regular season, the Minnesota Timberwolves and Oklahoma City Thunder joined the Nuggets as the preeminent favorites to win the West.

Dallas briefly led the West back in November after a strong start, but was nowhere near the top from then on out and hardly even registered as a dark horse contender. The Mavericks were in eighth place as recently as March 16 and needed to win 12 of their last 15 regular season games just to secure the fifth seed heading into the postseason.


This momentum carried over to the playoffs though where Dallas became the first team in 14 years to eliminate three 50+ win teams, including the Thunder and Timberwolves, on their road to the NBA Finals.

The Mavericks ultimately fell short and wound up falling to the Boston Celtics in five games, yet the experience that they gained from this run should help them get another crack at the NBA championship down the road. Doncic found another level in this postseason and even gained some ground in the conversation on who is the best player in the NBA today.

The 25-year-old Doncic averaged 28.9 points, 3.1 three-pointers, 9.5 rebounds, 8.1 assists, and 1.9 steals in 22 playoff games which allowed him to become the first player in NBA history to lead the league in total points, rebounds, assists, and steals during an entire postseason.


However, the biggest strides that Doncic made during these last two months cannot be purely quantified by statistics.

Despite leading the Mavericks to the Western Conference Finals back in 2022, Doncic remained labeled as a player who does not contribute to winning. He debunked this throughout the postseason, particularly in their series against Minnesota where he willed Dallas to victory on multiple occasions

Doncic also displayed his growing maturity during the NBA Finals, taking accountability for his poor play following their Game 3 loss that put them in a daunting 3-0 hole.

A repeat trip to the NBA Finals will not come easy for Doncic and the Mavericks given how perennially tough the Western Conference is, although the lessons of this season should provide them with a blueprint of what they need to do if they are to eventually make it back.

On Doncic’s part, the lowest hanging fruit for him in terms of his improvement is on the defensive end. He remains lackadaisical on defense and must show more commitment on that end of the floor if Dallas is to win the NBA championship with him as their best player.

Nonetheless, the window for title contention is wide open for the Mavericks for at least the next decade for as long as Doncic remains on their team.

Dallas’ front office has done a brilliant job of putting together a team that complements Doncic and it will be interesting to see how they continue to build this roster moving forward. A full offseason together should do them wonders as well given that two of their rotation pieces–P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford–joined the team last February.

The future is bright for Doncic and the Mavericks and this is clearly just the beginning of something special.