Hardwood Hypothesis Week 19 

The Mavs new star, Cavs a top team, and Mac McClung taking home the slam dunk title.



Erick’s Hardwood Hypothesis digs in to the best NBA storylines every week.

ERICK AGUILAR, Evergreen reporter

OK, OK, OK, so last week was huge. Now let us try to ignore the All-Star Week general headlines and look at the League at this very moment. Thanks for clicking in, here we go. Hardwood Hypothesis Week 19.

Eye on Mavs 

In Kyrie Irving’s first four games with his new team, they are 2-0 without Luka Dončić with wins over the Clippers and Kings. 

In the absence of  Luka, we saw Tim Hardaway Jr., Josh Green and Dwight Powell step up. And they will NEED to continue doing so if they wish to stand a chance deep in the playoffs. 

No doubt people have been ITCHING to watch this new Mavericks team after their acquisition of Irving. Luka is finally back after injury, however, Irving is now out with a bad back. 

In the two games where they played together, the Mavs are 0-2, losing to the Kings in overtime and the loss to the Timberwolves by 3 points. 

Cavaliers looking Sharp 

The Cavaliers have been on the rise this season and I am all for it. I love young underdog teams that have to prove what they are made of. 

This team is currently fourth in the West and are 7-1 in their last eight games, losing to the 76ers by 6 points. 

The offseason acquisition of Donovan Mitchell has proven to be a phenomenal move, just as I predicted . And his supporting cast of Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert and Cedi Osman is playing as a real cohesive unit. 

Ricky Rubio is with this group in the locker room as well and he really provides that veteran leadership and wisdom within the roster. This team is young and tough and if they want to go toe to toe with the best teams in the league this veteran presence will prove a chemistry necessity. 

Just for a skill reference here, I think this team can beat the Kings, Nets, Mavericks and Heat. I also believe they will match up well with the Grizzlies and Clippers. I will say that they might be able to upset the Celtics and 76ers on a good day. 

With that said, I do not see this team beating the Nuggets, Bucks or Suns.

Look, the Cavaliers currently have the best defense in the league allowing the fewest points per game with 106. In addition, this team is fifth in field goal percentage per game with 48.8%, first is the Denver Nuggets with 51.1%. The Cavaliers are also second in positive points differential with 5.8. The Celtics are first with 5.9. 

Sorry, I seem to be milking this team, we all know that I have been fond of them. This team is very much my favorite deep playoff dark horse… Remember this moment when they push the Celtics to a game seven in the Eastern Conference semi-finals and win. 

Mac McClung 


Yeah, I said the same thing. When my social media feed was hit with the blizzard of posts that was Mac McClung’s dunking clips, I turned to my roommate and asked if they let civilians into the dunk contest now. 

I meant no disrespect with my comment, I had simply never heard his name before, it was only after a quick Google search that I discovered that McClung was a former Texas Tech Raider who went undrafted in 2021. 

He has been in and out of the G-league between the Lakers and 76ers feeder teams before being invited to this year’s dunk contest, becoming the first two-way G-league player to compete in the contest. 

“Nobody knows your name. Make them remember your name,” said NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal to McClung prior to the contest. 

McClung did exactly that, not only becoming the first G-league player to participate in a dunk contest but also winning one. 

Let me make one thing clear. This dude can SLAM. Holy cannoli, that dunk contest was a spectacular showing of talent. 

Before the weekend, McClung had earned around $106,000 playing basketball in his entire career and he made $100,000 from winning the dunk contest alone. 

I love the dynamic of it all. A highly unknown player being called up from the G-League and making a huge statement during the All-Star Weekend. Capitalizing on the biggest moments and performing under pressure is the creed of athletes, and McClung represents that. 

Player of the week 

As much as I wanted to make McClung the Player of the Week, I do want to keep these for real game performances, so with that, Jakob Poeltl is this edition’s Player of the Week. 

The Raptors’ very own 7’1 Austrian was an impenetrable wall on Tuesday as his squad bested the Magic 123-113. 

Peoltl’s field day included 30 points, nine rebounds, two assists, a steal and six blocks. His performance was a highlight of fundamental big-man team play and I loved watching it. Poeltl was always involved in play whenever he was on the floor, whether it was grabbing the board, being a big body in the paint, slamming on the receiving end of a teammate’s dish, or setting high screens for his dynamic teammates to hit the lane. 

Overall, great performance from the big man. 

That will be it for this week’s issue, I appreciate the continued support for my series and am excited to write more next week.