NBA week 8 recap: End of an era, normalcy returning and more

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Two franchises have their pillars

One player is all it takes to change a culture in the NBA. With only five players on the court for one team at a time, finding the right prospect or free agent to lead you into the future is one of the first steps to turning the corner as a franchise. Two teams in very different situations with figuring out their future have each found their catalyst to long standing contention this season.

The Sacramento Kings and De’Aaron Fox were detailed extensively in an earlier version of this piece, but they, and Fox in particular, continue to keep the Kings in the playoff race (half a game out of the final spot) in an extremely competitive Western Conference. Multiple NBA players have spoken about the culture change Fox has provided to a franchise starving for a leader since the Chris Webber left in 2005.

The Dallas Mavericks were in a different situation than the Kings. The greatest player in their franchise, Dirk Nowitzki, is in the twilight of his career. The Mavs have been one of the staples of the Western Conference, only missing three postseasons since the 2000-01 season, with two of them coming the past two seasons.

They were a model of consistency with Dirk carrying them every season. Replacing a player of that magnitude on and off the court is difficult for any franchise, but the Mavs have done that with Luka Doncic. Doncic was one of the most hyped players of his century before the 2018 NBA Draft, and he has lived up to every aspect of this billing as the clear favorite for Rookie of the Year.

His on-court repertoire is full of skip passes, step-back jumpers and crafty finishing, but the Mavericks are already his team, as a 19-year-old rookie, with a litany of veterans around him. That speaks to his greatness as a person, and shows the Mavericks are in great hands to usher in the post-Dirk era.

Two franchises that had bleak futures just a season ago now have their pillars for success. These two teams have no inclination to tank with their first round picks elsewhere, so expect them to continue their battle for the final playoff spot with their ultra competitive and young guards leading the way.