Mavs projected lineup and rotations heading into 2023-24 season

Kyrie Irving, Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks (Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports)
Kyrie Irving, Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks (Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Tim Hardaway Jr. (Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)
Tim Hardaway Jr. (Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports) /

Dallas Mavericks starting small forward: Tim Hardaway Jr.

Here’s the first critical decision for Jason Kidd. Doncic and Irving are easy locks. Tim Hardaway Jr. has tenure — and therefore gets the nod here — but if he doesn’t perform, there are a couple of potential avenues to replace him with a younger alternative. Hardaway is 31 years old and he has been on a slight decline in recent years.

That said, Hardaway averaged 14.4 points on .401/.385/.770 splits last season. He started 45 of 71 appearances and took a career-high 7.7 attempts per game from 3-point range. His proficiency as a shooter makes him a natural fit working off the ball next to Doncic and Irving. Hardaway is comfortable navigating screens and firing off the catch, on the move, or pulling up. He was an underrated part of the Mavs’ elite offense.

Of course, offense won’t be a problem for Dallas with or without Hardaway in the starting five. It’s a question of whether or not he’s good enough defensively to merit this spot. Hardaway is slightly undersized for his position at 6-foot-5 and he doesn’t really qualify as a plus defender. The Mavs have built up a decent stockpile of young wings who deserve minutes. Hardaway is on the back end of his massive contract and now more than ever, he’s a candidate to get traded as Dallas seeks future improvements.

If it weren’t for Kidd’s stubbornness in the head coach’s chair, it would be much easier to predict a move to the bench outright. Hardaway will still stretch defenses with his jumper and he has years of built-in chemistry with Doncic, but he’s trending toward a demotion.

Primary backup small forward: Josh Green

Josh Green deserves to start. The Hardaway Experience Factor wins out from a projection standpoint, but I’d wager that Green is starting before the season ends. He checks too many important boxes for Dallas. He’s a tremendous wing defender, arguably the best on the roster, and he shot 40.2 percent from deep last season. He fits the 3-and-D billing Dallas needs on the wing.

Green is a nuclear athlete who possesses plenty of untapped potential as an off-ball troublemaker on the defensive end. On the ball, he’s strong enough to battle big wings and nimble enough to mirror guards at the point of attack.

That athleticism translates to the offensive end too, where Green poses a frequent vertical threat against sleeping defenses. He has a knack for sneaking backdoor and making himself available at the rim, where he’s extremely efficient for his size. Doncic and Irving are the best backcourt imaginable for a player with Green’s particular skill set. Again, he should start before too long.

Other players who could receive minutes at small forward: Grant Williams, Justin Holiday, Dante Exum, Olivier Maxence-Prosper

Keep tabs on Olivier Maxence-Prosper. He was a big riser during the pre-draft process and he earned a lot of fans in front offices across the league with his defensive intensity and bursty athleticism. At 6-foot-9, he profiles as the kind of two-way role player Dallas lacked last season. Rookies rarely see extensive minutes on contenders, but O-Max is a spirited competitor who could will his way to playing time.