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Dallas Mavericks Betting on Kyrie Cryptocurrency

When cryptocurrency first burst onto the scene, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban initially called it a “pyramid scheme.” Since then he has changed his stance, going from an open supporter to more a sideline advocate of the pseudo-financial industry. Ironically, he has also turned into something of a crypto market over the last six months or so, choosing to abandon the core of the Mavs’ defense and coherence in favor of banking on NBA enigma Kyrie Irving.

There is no doubting Irving’s talent. Since being chosen with the first overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, Irving has shown he can both dazzle and fizzle, sometimes nearly simultaneously. Like crypto, he can look like a great investment at times, but  he can also reveal himself to be the last thing you want in your portfolio. Which can the Mavs expect to see in 2023-24? The simple answer is both, but let’s take a look at the sample size we have from last season. 

On February 6, 2023 the Mavs acquired Irving from the Brooklyn Nets in a package that largely stripped Dallas of their perimeter defense. At the time, Dallas was hanging in the playoff chase, playing just above .500 ball, but after the trade they went 8-12 and missed the postseason while crash landing in the Western Conference’s 11th seed. It was an all-in move for Dallas, but one that failed to yield positive results despite Irving’s stellar play down the stretch.

It is safe to say the jury’s still out on the Irving/Luka Doncic edition of the Mavs, but barring another major move they aren’t much better off than they were when they made the trade. They added a backup center from the Boston Celtics in Grant Williams who will, presumably, start. He puts up solid numbers in a reserve role and uses his girth to make up for his 6’7” height, but last season his offensive efficiency suffered when he slipped into the starting role, which doesn’t bode well for Dallas.

Of course, Dallas also acquired Richaun Holmes from the Sacramento Kings, and he does have a more of a traditional (modern) center’s body, but he hasn’t started consistently since the 20-21 season and fell out of the rotation altogether last year. Some of that had to do with past injuries, some of it had to do with off-the-court issues and some of it was due to the arrival of Domantas Sabonis via trade with the Indiana Pacers. Jason Kidd’s Mavericks look to run a similar offensive style as the Kings (minus the coaching and personnel), which doesn’t bode well for Holmes, nor does his lack of defensive prowess, but maybe the Mavs are just hoping he will fit.

I’ve also seen it suggested that rookie center Dereck Lively II could start at center, and while that might be something that would work on NBA2K, starting a player who spent one year in college – even at Duke University – and averaged a meager 5.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game is not something a playoff team would do. In 2-3 seasons, after he’s added some bulk to go with his footwork and speed, perhaps, but not immediately. Might as well start Dwight Powell.

The rest of the supporting cast in Dallas is essentially the same cast (plus tweak additions Seth Curry and Derrick Jones, Jr.) that went 8-12 last spring. The front office appears to be placing all of their playoffs hopes in the Kyrie Irving basket. Somehow he is going to learn to play off the ball more effectively while Doncic does the lion’s share of the ball handling. Apparently he’s also going to become a defensive master, which would be odd after being something of a sieve for much of his career. We already know Luka isn’t exactly Gary Payton on defense.

Every elite player needs a second elite player in order to chase a championship, and Irving is an elite player under the right circumstances. The problem is, being elite isn’t enough; that player also has to complement his teammates. Irving is simply too similar to Luka for the duo to be successful on an elite level, especially when Irving isn’t nearly as concerned about winning as he is about his own, unpredictable agenda.

Related: When Philadelphia 76ers GM Daryl Morey brought James Harden back into the fold, he invited his new team down the same path that led to him stepping down from his last one. Now The James Harden Train Wreck Has Left the Station, and it may cost the Sixers Joel Embiid and Morey his job. 

Bill Ingram is Executive Editor for The Hardwood Huddle, a new website coming to soon from the creators of Back Sports Page. He has been covering the NBA for more than 20 years.

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