As the NBA season quickly approaches, Right Down Euclid will be previewing all 30 NBA teams, breaking down the strengths and weaknesses of each franchise. This preview will focusing on the Dallas Mavericks, who last year had a record of 41-41 and did not make the playoffs.
Team: Dallas Mavericks
Coach: Rick Carlisle
General Manager: Don Nelson
2012-2013 Record: 41-41
Place in Conference: 10th
Leading Scorer: Dirk Nowitzki (17.3 PPG)
Key Additions: G Monta Ellis, C Sam Dalembert, G Jose Calderon, G Shane Larkin
Key Loses: G O.J. Mayo, C Chris Kaman, G Darren Collison, F Elton Brand
The Dallas Mavericks were a team in flux last season, and that looks to be the case again in 2013-14. The team still has Dirk Nowitzki, who will be healthy from the beginning of the season after he missed a large chunk of the start of last season with a knee injury. Outside of Dirk, however, the Mavericks will be relying on both older veterans, like Shawn Marion, and unproven young guys, like Jae Crowder. They will also feature a very interesting backcourt of Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis, one that appears quite perplexing offensively. The Mavs will have to overcome both the injury bug and lack of depth to attempt to compete in the league’s toughest division.
Dallas is going to have an offense renewed continuity this season, thanks to the massive upgrade from Darren Collison to Calderon at the point. Calderon is one of the best passers in the league, and his pinpoint delivery skills will help guys like Dirk and Monta get good looks. I’d expect Dallas to improve on top-10 finishes in field goal percentage and three-point percentage last season. This team can still really shoot the ball, even with the replacement of O.J. Mayo with Monta. Dallas doesn’t have a lot of depth, but they do have the advantage of very versatile players being their first three off the bench. Devin Harris can play both guard spots, Vince Carter backs up both wings, and Brandan Wright can play both post spots. That gives them eight guys that they can plug and play in a variety of lineups. Finally, between Sam Dalembert, Wright, and Bernard James, Dallas should be able to protect the rim pretty well this season, and improve on one of the league’s more inefficient defenses.
Speaking of defense, the Mavs have a glaring flaw in that this Calderon/Ellis pairing might be atrocious on D. Neither is a great on-ball defender, and with Shawn Marion playing about two steps slower than he did in 2011, that means perimeter D is going to be a huge problem for this Mavericks team. If Jae Crowder can make improvements here, that would help, but it’s unlikely that this team will be even passable on defense on the perimeter this year. We also can’t go without mentioning Monta’s offense, one of the most inefficient in the league. I believe that he’s going to improve his numbers now that he’s playing with a great distributor for the first time since Baron Davis was a Warrior, and definitely now that he’s off that depressing Milwaukee squad. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s a major black hole in an offense with only three real scorers on roster in Monta, Dirk, and Carter. Also worth noting: the Mavericks have six players over 30. Six! This team’s pretty old, and old usually leads to injured, and if any of the key guys get hurt…..welcome to the Monta chucking show and Wayne Ellington entering the rotation. Like last year, this team cannot afford injuries.
2013-2014 Season Predictions 5-7 sentences:
-Will finish around .500, miss the playoffs
-Leading scorer: Monta Ellis, who will be much more efficient this season
-Will suffer a major injury to a key player at some point this season
-Will finish fifth in the Southwest Division, ninth or tenth in conference
-As always, will be active on the free agent market this summer, especially if Dirk retires.