Cuban Led Dallas to NBA’s Second-Best Win Percentage: Data Viz

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is selling a majority stake in the team to billionaire Miriam Adelson. As a financial investment, Cuban’s ownership tenure has been a huge win—the tech entrepreneur bought the franchise for $285 million in 2000, and the current valuation will be greater than 10 times that number.

On the court, it’s been a massive success as well. The Mavericks won a championship in 2011, but more generally, the franchise has the second-highest regular season winning percentage of any NBA team since Cuban took over in 2000. Their 59.6% win rate trails only the San Antonio Spurs at 64.6%, and is well ahead of the third-place Boston Celtics at 56.2%.

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That sustained excellence is remarkable considering that Dallas was one of the league’s regular cellar-dwellers before Cuban’s purchase. From their founding in 1980 until the turn of the century, the Mavericks only won 39.4% of their games, which landed them at 25th in the league since the ABA/NBA merger. Their turnaround of a 20% increase in winning percentage following Y2K is the largest of any team, not including the Grizzlies, which struggled mightily out of the gate as an expansion franchise in 1995.

The Mavericks made the playoffs just six times in their first 20 seasons, compared to 16 of the subsequent 20 under Cuban’s leadership. It’s difficult, though, to determine how much of this success can be credited to Cuban. He took over a franchise that had already drafted promising overseas prospect Dirk Nowitzki and acquired former No. 15 draft pick Steve Nash.

That future Hall of Fame duo led some record-setting offenses in Dallas, but they were unable to make an NBA Finals together, in part due to Nowitzki’s injury during the 2003 playoffs. Then in 2004, Cuban chose not to match the Phoenix Suns’ five-year, $65 million contract offer for Nash, and let him walk for nothing in return. Nash went on to win MVP in 2005 and 2006 for the Suns.

Dallas managed to make the Finals in 2006, and eventually won the franchise’s first and only title in 2011 after surrounding Nowitzki with a complementary supporting cast of veterans and shooters. That offseason, however, the Mavericks dealt starting center Tyson Chandler to New York, where he won Defensive Player of the Year in 2012. The Mavs, meanwhile, never won another playoff series with Nowitzki, who retired in 2019.

Multiple reports of Cuban’s agreement to sell the team say that he will retain operational control. Therefore, he will get to follow through on what was perhaps his biggest personnel win as the Mavericks’ decision-maker: trading up in the 2018 draft to acquire Luka Dončić, who is already an MVP-level player at age 24.

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