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Alex Caruso names the people behind the scenes that make the Dallas Mavericks the sleeper candidate for the Larry O'Brien trophy

Players notice stuff fans don't. For instance, when a former advance scout for the Lakers gets a major role as an assistant coach.
Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic and Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso

Luka Doncic and Alex Caruso

Picking a team that just made the Western Conference Finals as your sleeper team doesn't seem very logical. But looking at the Western landscape, the Mavs will have to fight just to stay out of the play-in. Still, there are people behind the scenes that give Alex Caruso the confidence to pick Dallas Mavericks as his sleeper team in the West. 

Caruso picks Dallas as the sleeper team

Caruso guested on The Old Man & The Three podcast hosted by JJ Redick and Tommy Alter, and he was asked to pick his sleeper team. The Chicago Bulls guard chose the Dallas Mavericks.

I know how Jason Kidd operates. I know how Jared Dudley operates. I know Greg St. Jeans, one of the best basketball minds and he doesn’t get a lot of attention and recognition because he’s behind the bench in L.A. but I know how those guys operate. You know, mentally.

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Dallas will go as far as Luka Doncic takes them next season, and Caruso thinks the 23-year-old will only get better and better. No one gave them a chance against the 62-win Phoenix Suns, but the Mavs proved everyone wrong in their series, with Luka giving out a masterclass performance.

Meanwhile, Redick’s pick was the Denver Nuggets, but it remains to be seen how Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. perform after recovering from long-term injuries. But what made JJ pick the Nuggets is the fact that they added solid role players to complement Nikola Jokic’s game. The Joker towed his team to the playoffs almost by himself; what more next season when he will have better teammates around him.

Does Dallas qualify as a sleeper team?

Dallas reached the Western Conference Finals, and as such, more is expected from them next year. They lost Jalen Brunson but added crucial pieces in JaVale McGee and Christian Wood. Can Dallas be considered as a sleeper team, or have they become contenders?

If the Mavs were in the Eastern Conference, they would definitely be considered as favorites, but because the stacked Western Conference will even get better next year, Dallas is no longer a shoo-in for another deep playoff run. Can they exceed what they achieved last year? If everyone remains healthy, they have a chance. Tim Hardaway Jr. will be back in the lineup, and with added offensive power and defensive presence in the paint, fans are expecting big things from the Mavericks.

As Alex Caruso mentioned, the coaches won’t just sit and enjoy reaching the Western Finals last year. They want more, and having a taste of what it's like playing under that immense pressure did nothing but benefit the players. The rest of the league has been warned: the Dallas Mavericks are ready for a repeat, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone if they actually do it. 

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