After all, they are 22-14 since the 37-year-old journeyman guard joined the Mavs on a 10-day deal in January. They are 9-3 in games that James has started.
“Maybe I’m the rabbit’s foot,” James joked after Thursday’s shootaround.
James is completely serious when he discusses Dallas’ opportunity to earn the right to play in the postseason and the potential to do some damage if they get there.
“We know we’re a playoff team,” James said. “But because of our record and how slow we started, especially before I got here, we’ve had to dig ourselves out of a hole. Let’s just say if the season started in January and you take away the first half of the season and just talk about what we’ve done from January to now, we’re one of the better teams in the NBA.”
That’s not an exaggeration.
James’ first game with the Mavs was Jan. 9, when he played five seconds in a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers that dropped the Mavs to 10 games under .500 for the first time in a dozen years. The Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Denver Nuggets, Memphis Grizzlies and Indiana Pacers are the only teams that have a better record since then.
“Were we a playoff team early? No,” James said. “But are we a team that could really make a lot of noise in the playoffs? Yes. I believe that if we get in, we’re going to be dangerous for any team to play against because we’re going to be playing our best basketball.”