He has quickly blossomed into the Mavs’ new franchise player.
He has averaged 28.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 8.7 assists per game over the past three seasons, and he is getting very close to being considered the best player in the NBA.
But now the challenge for Dallas is to surround him with a great team, especially after giving him a huge contract extension just months ago.
This season, guard Jalen Brunson emerged as someone who could considerably take the pressure off Doncic on the offensive end.
Brunson averaged an efficient 16.3 points per game in the regular season and increased that to 21.6 points a game in the playoffs, as he was a major reason why the Mavs upset the top-seeded Phoenix Suns in the second round.
But just about everyone is expecting Brunson to join the New York Knicks as a free agent on a lucrative deal, which would leave the Mavs high and dry coming off their best season in years.
The Knicks have cleared $30M in salary cap space to offer Dallas' Jalen Brunson in the neighborhood of a max contract. The unloading of assets and contracts clearly shows the Knicks' confidence that they can secure Brunson once free agency opens on Thursday.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 29, 2022
Brunson Was Big For Dallas
A 6-foot-1, 190-pound guard, Brunson may never become a great player or even an All-Star, but he became perhaps the only other legitimate scoring threat on the Mavs not named Doncic.
During the playoffs, he took on a significant burden and helped Dallas put up enough points to advance further than anyone reasonably expected it to.
He had a 41-point explosion in the first round versus the Utah Jazz, as well as two 31-point performances.
Jalen Brunson in the two games he won in the playoffs without Luka:
1 total turnover
Next leading scorer was Maxi Kleber… he’ll do fine with RJ Barrett pic.twitter.com/p8FG8jF8xk
— Teg🚨 (@IQfor3) June 29, 2022
All too often, the Mavs have had to watch Doncic dominate the ball and work very hard against set defenses in order to get a decent shot for himself.
But when Brunson attacked, he allowed Doncic to “rest” a bit while also giving him someone he could trust offensively.
With Brunson apparently headed to the Big Apple, Dallas’ options are limited.
Guard Spencer Dinwiddie, whom it acquired in the Kristaps Porzingis trade in February, played well for the team, averaging 15.8 points in 28.3 minutes while shooting 49.8 percent overall and 40.4 percent from beyond the arc.
However, he has historically been a very inefficient shooter, and if he regresses to his mean, the Mavs will have problems.
Other than Dinwiddie and Brunson, they do not have anyone besides Doncic who can consistently get his own shot and force the issue offensively.
The Clock Is Ticking For Dallas
The good news for the Mavs is that Doncic is just 23 years of age and is under contract through the 2026-27 season, which is a long time from now.
But if a couple more seasons go by and they still haven’t gotten him a legitimate co-star, it isn’t hard to imagine him getting frustrated.
Doncic is a highly competitive player, and it is unlikely he will be willing to go through several more years of exiting the playoffs early.
Owner Mark Cuban will no doubt move heaven and earth to put together a championship team, but doing so is never easy and always takes plenty of time.