Season Preview: Dallas Mavericks

As a site, we ranked all the NBA teams from worst to best for our release of season previews. Day fifteen’s release of a season preview ends up being the unpredictable Dallas Mavericks. Hamed Qashmar will provide a recap of their past season, an offseason recap, and then finally the season preview all of us fans are eager for.

Dallas Mavericks:

Last Season’s Record: 50-32

Playoff Status: Lost 4-1 in First Round to the Houston Rockets

The Dallas Mavericks have been the second most successful team in the NBA over the past 18 years, second only to the San Antonio Spurs of course. The Mavs have made the playoffs for 14 of the past 15 years and have won at least 50 games or more in each season except for one. With that being said, the Mavs know how to win. They have one of the best coaching staffs headed by Rick Carlisle and Monty Mathews. They have produced two head coaches –Terry Stotts of the Blazer and Raptors head coach Dwane Casey– after their championship run in 2011. They also have one of the best medical staffs in the league, led by Dwayne Casey, who is also head athletic trainer for Team USA basketball. The Mavs are known winners.

Dallas’ second most notable acquisition came in an unexpected way. Deron Williams and the Nets reached a buyout agreement and he cleared waivers before inking a 2-year $10 million deal with the Mavs. Now, Williams isn’t the same point guard who was competing with Chris Paul for the NBA’s best point guard, but at the age of 31 he is far from finished. Injuries have derailed his career in New Jersey/Brooklyn. Alongside injuries, many reports were saying he wasn’t comfortable under the New York spot light and he didn’t like living in the city. From a fan’s perspective, it also seemed like he gave up on the Nets. Once in a blue moon he would have a vintage game but more often than not he was mediocre. At a certain point he even get benched in favor journeyman Jarret Jack. Furthermore, he has an opportunity to rejuvenate his career in his home town. Carlisle has a track record of reviving player’s careers. Williams is in the best possible situation he could be in. once again, Carlisle’s system favors a player like Williams. He will be asked to be the primary ball handler and playmaker; his defense isn’t going to win him a spot on the all-defensive team, but with his size he can hold his own. If everything works out, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Williams put numbers around 16 points per game and 7-8 assists while shooting at a respectable shooting clip. He is most definitely an upgrade over any point guard the Mavs had last year.

With that being said, the Mavs had a disappointing start to the 2015 NBA free agency. They famously missed out on DeAndre Jordan after his unexpected change of heart, but they quickly put that passed them while the media and fans dwelled on the subject. They inked former Utah State and Trailblazer guard Wesley Mathews. They originally agreed upon a 4-year $57 million deal, but when Jordan backed out that Mavs renegotiated with his agent and they rewarded him with a 4-year $70 million deal. Mathews is coming off a significant Achilles rupture; there hasn’t been an NBA player who suffered the injury at the age of 28 like Mathews. Most have been above the age 31, most notably Dominique Wilkins. Wilkins actually upped his scoring and efficiency after coming back from the injury. Medicine has advanced exponentially since then, and the Mavs do have one of the best medical staffs in the league. Given all of this and Mathews determination to overcome doubters, Mathews should bounce back and have his typical season. He will be replacing Monta Ellis in the lineup. They are two very different players: Mathews is a bigger guard, superior outside shooter, and a lockdown defensive player. Monta is more of an offensive minded guard who lacks size but makes up for it with his blazing speed and quickness. Monta is a superior playmaker, but is an atrocious defender and shooter. Before Mathew’s injury, he was widely regarded as one of the best two-way players in the league. He is extremely versatile and averaged 16 points per game as Portland’s third option. Mathews led the league in three pointers made before going down with his injury. He will probably get more touches in Dallas under Carlisle’s offense. He fits perfectly; Dallas loves to move the ball and kick out to shooters. He should thrive.

This year Chandler Parsons will be relied upon more heavily than he ever has. He will be running “point-forward” for the mavs. His pick-n-roll numbers last year were among the league’s best, although he didn’t run the pick-n-roll often. Parsons is coming off of a knee injury and the mavs have yet to disclose what type of surgery he had back in May. Carlisle will be running more plays for Parson and he will be asked to be the go-to-guy and should be team’s leading scorer; I would expect between 17-19 points per game from him if he comes back strong and healthy.

Manning the power forward position for Dallas is 17-year veteran and sure-fire hall of famer Dirk Nowitzki. Dirk’s as steady as a superstar the NBA has ever seen; he will be entering his 18th season at the age of 37. Dirk will not be the main option for the team and is likely to play less than 30 minutes per game. Last year may have been his final all-star appearance, but I wouldn’t expect anything less than 17 points and 6 rebounds per game, while providing his patented clutch plays and veteran leadership.

Losing Tyson Chandler for a second times leaves Dallas a hole in their interior defense. However, the Mavs acquired Zaza Pachulia, Samuel Dalembert, and JaVale McGee to take turns filling in the void. Don’t get me wrong, this is obviously a downgrade for Dallas, but they can have a solid three-man rotation that can fill the void. Dallas will miss Chandler’s intensity and relentless on the offensive glass, but they should be able to be average in the interior defense. Zaza was 15th in defensive efficiency last year in Milwaukee, and Dalembert is known for his ability to protect the paint. Meanwhile, McGee brings a combination of dynamic athleticism and shot blocking. Dalembert likely won’t see more than 10-15 minutes a game, which is more than enough out of him. Zaza is a decent passer and has some range for a guy his size; McGee will most likely get the starting nod.

The bench is led by veterans Devin Harris and J.J. Barea, followed by rookie swingman, Justin Anderson and 2-year player Dwight Powell. The Mavs lack depth, but they have added athleticism with Powell, Anderson, and Jeremy Evans. Don’t expect them to be an elite second unit, but they can come in and change the pace of the game and provided an athletic spark, one that Dallas has lacked for years. Devin Harris will likely be their sixth man as he was last season; expect rookie Justin Anderson to be a pleasant surprise and perform beyond expectations. He will give Dallas dynamic athleticism and provide great defense hustle and play.

All in all, Dallas might take a step back compared to last season, but if they are healthy for most of the season they should make the playoffs as a sixth or seventh seed. They will most likely win anywhere between 44 and 50 games. Rick Carlisle is never to be doubted, he can make any level of talent look better than they are.

By: Hamed Qashmar, @HamedQashmar

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