Last month, an agreement between Basketball Australia, Foxtel and the ABC ensured all 60 games of the WNBL season would be shown live across the country – and Bec Cole of the Southside Flyers was an unexpected beneficiary.
Over the past week, there has been talk that the Dallas Mavericks will be going all in for two-time MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo once he hits free agency next year, in the hope to form the league’s new ‘Big 3’.
Whilst our eyes light up when we hear the possibility of Luka Dončić, Kristaps Porziņģis and Giannis playing together on the same team, despite opinions, I do not think this is the best fit for him.
I honestly think the best situation for the two-time MVP lies with Golden State. Giannis along with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson would be a nightmare for every team around the league, especially if they played a similar small ball line-up to what Houston moved towards in the second half of the season.
In saying that, there is no doubt that Dallas needs another top tier player to get them over the stronger teams situated in the West. They have their leader and arguably the best young player in the league in Luka. Watching Luka’s game is like looking at a masterpiece.
The things that he is doing at his age have never been seen done before. Alongside Luka, the Mavs have Kristaps Porziņģis, who had a terrific return this season from a torn ACL during his time with New York.
This Mavericks team in its current state is no joke and displayed their talent during the playoffs this year, taking the Clippers to six games and could have potentially upset them had Porziņģis not tore his meniscus.
Luka and KP are surrounded by great role players who all provide in their own way; Tim Hardaway Jr had a great year shooting the ball and played a key role for them in contrast to being seen as a throw in as a part of the trade for Porziņģis.
Dorian Finney-Smith is extremely underrated, being a dark horse providing 3-point shooting and defence and Seth Curry gives them scoring off the bench. They also have two serviceable bigs in Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell.
The Mavericks have an elite point guard and big man set for the future leaving the best spot for another all-star type talent to fill in at the wing position, and the two players that can fill this spot are Victor Oladipo or Khris Middleton. Both these players fit the Mavericks timeline, with Oladipo currently 28, and Middleton 29.
Going the Oladipo route gives the Mavs another ball handler to run the pick and roll which has generally been one of their go to offensive sets with Luka and KP. People have forgotten how good he is given the significant injury he suffered, rupturing his quad tendon.
He broke out, becoming an All-Star in 2018, winning the Most Improved Player as well as being named on the All-NBA Third Team and NBA All-Defensive First Team. He averaged 23ppg, 4.3apg, and 5.2pg and led the league in steals averaging 2.4.
Inserting Oladipo into the Mavericks line-up will give Luka and KP an extra partner to help handle and pass the ball, be able to score and shoot the ball helping an already well-established offence (ranked the most efficient offence in league history last season) and bring a defensive edge to a team that ranked 18th in the league in defensive rating.
Adding Middleton brings similar attributes that Oladipo brings although he lacks the athleticism that would come with Vic. Middleton is a two-time All-Star that isn’t considered a top player in the league by mainstream media. Despite a lack of athleticism, he compensates for this with his crafty ability to score the ball from the mid-range and three with a fast release.
Middleton provides length at his position, providing defence and is able to shoot the ball in catch and shoot situations or run isolation plays after showing this year he can do so.
Throughout the season, Middleton developed as a playmaker and improved his ability as the ball handler in pick and roll sets. He also finished the season falling insanely short of joining the 50-40-90 club which only eight players have done in NBA history.
The Dallas Mavericks are one of the exciting younger teams in the league and have a bright future with both Luka and Porziņģis leading at the front.
If they can go out and acquire an All-Star type talent at the wing position, that is able to provide on both ends of the floor, the team will be knocking on the door of a potential title in the coming years.