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The bar has been set for the Dallas Mavericks.

Coming off an NBA Finals appearance, this should become the beginning of a long championship-contending run for the Mavs and Luka Doncic.

As coach Jason Kidd said during the Finals, “When you have one of the best players in the world, you should always be fighting for a championship.”

Of course, the Mavs saw firsthand the gap between reaching the Finals and winning a championship. The Boston Celtics left little doubt that they had the better, deeper, more talented team, downing the Mavs in five games.

So, the question becomes: what do the Mavs need in order to help Doncic and his co-star, Kyrie Irving, get over the hump? Well, there are multiple paths that could be taken, which will make for an interesting and busy offseason for general manager Nico Harrison.

First, the Mavs must decide whether they can bring back small forward Derrick Jones Jr. Jones was a key piece during the playoff run, locking down the opposing team’s star player on the defensive end. Jones is the only rotation player who is not under contract, although both sides seem to have mutual interest in his return.

On the free agent and trade market, the Mavs could use an outside shooting threat. They were a middle-of-the-road team from long range throughout the regular season and playoffs, an area that can certainly use an upgrade.

The good news for the Mavs is that Harrison has proven to be aggressive early on during his tenure. 

He acquired forward P.J. Washington and center Daniel Gafford at this year’s trade deadline, two pieces that helped the Mavs make a run. In last year’s draft, he landed center Dereck Lively II (from Oklahoma City), and Lively has emerged into a budding star who fits the team’s system well.

As Doncic said after the Finals, “We did some great moves. I would say we’ve been together for five months. Obviously, we didn’t win the Finals, but we did have a hell of a season.”

Yes, they did. And, even in a loaded Western Conference, there is no reason to think the Mavs are going away anytime soon. Instead, more than any offseason move, the reason for optimism may be Doncic and how he’ll grow from this experience.

It was documented during the Finals of other greats who had playoff struggles before reaching the highest level, such as Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Magic Johnson. Doncic can follow in their footsteps.

“We answered a lot of questions this year about what we were capable of doing,” Irving said. “Now, it’s just about being consistent. I said that we wanted to be remembered as one of the best teams of this era, and our last few champions have been new one each and every year. So, I see an opportunity for us to really build our future in a positive manner where this is almost like a regular thing for us, and we’re competing for championships.”

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