The Mavs keep winning, the Hawks find a new franchise player & Most Improved Player candidates | No Cap Room

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Yahoo Sports senior NBA reporter Jake Fischer and Yahoo Sports senior NBA writer Dan Devine talk about the streaky Dallas Mavericks, a new foundational player for the Atlanta Hawks and check in on the Most Improved Player race.

On this episode of No Cap Room, Yahoo Sports senior NBA reporter Jake Fischer and Yahoo Sports senior NBA writer Dan Devine kick things off by talking about the Cleveland Cavaliers, who got Donovan Mitchell back last night and proceeded to beat up on a good New Orleans Pelicans team. Are the Cavs quietly the 2nd best team in the East?

The guys give a quick shoutout to Orlando Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley, who recently got a 4-year extension after turning this young roster into a fantastic defensive team. Dan argues that this is the most successful Magic season since Dwight Howard was on the roster, while Jake wonders if Mosley could win Coach of the Year this season.

After another shoutout to Otto Porter Jr., who retired after 11 NBA seasons, Jake and Dan do a vibe check for the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavericks have been streaky lately, winning a bunch, and then losing a bunch, and now riding another 4-game winning streak. Dan explains that the key to their success is the defense, which might be turning a corner. Jake points out that Daniel Gafford and P.J. Washington seem to finally be finding their roles in this Dallas offense, which could end up helping the defense.

With just a few more weeks left in the NBA regular season, the guys decided to check in on the Most Improved Player race, which is probably locked up for Tyrese Maxey. Dan admits to who he has voted for in the past, Jake roasts him for it while explaining his own philosophy for who should win MIP, and then they throw out some names of guys that could theoretically challenge Maxey for the away this year.

One of those names is Jalen Johnson, who has made such a leap this season for the Atlanta Hawks that they might just trade away Trae Young and rebuild the team around Johnson. Jake talked with Johnson, and some of his struggles to escape pre-draft rumors, and came away very impressed by the kid’s mentality and work ethic. Will we see him in the play-in game? And could his improvement lead to a shift in the Eastern Conference?

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