After unceremoniously losing to Golden State in the first round of last years playoffs, the Mavericks had a quietly effective off season. The team could have panicked and made some rash decisions, but instead elected to subtly build off of their current base.
Dallas added a bit of versatility to their roster with the addition of power forward Brandon Bass
. Bass had a great showing in the Vegas Summer League and looks to finally be tapping into the potential he showed as a freshman at LSU. He should give the Mavericks the option of sliding Nowitzki to center at times when they face an undersized lineup, much like the one that gave the team problems in the playoffs.
The veteran additions of Eddie Jones
and Trenton Hassell
provide the Mavs with additional veteran depth at the wing. Both players are known for their defense, and each has had experience playing a variety of opponents. The two provide depth at the wing in the event that either Josh Howard
or Jerry Stackhouse
miss any time.
The re-signing of Stackhouse and Devean George
fully solidifies the wing depth of the team, but the re-signing of Devin Harris
has to constitute the biggest move of the off season for the Mavs. Dallas now has big money tied to both Harris and Jason Terry
, so one can expect the two guards to start in the backcourt together. Nick Fazekas
is the only Maverick draft pick who is staying state-side this year, as the team sent Rayshawn Terry and Renaldis Seibutis overseas (both to Greece). Fazekas looked out of sorts in the disorganized summer league setting, but will get a chance to redeem himself during Octobers training camp. Dont expect much from the rookie this season in terms of playing time.
2nd year point guard Jose Juan Barea
had an excellent summer and looks to be in line for an increased role on the team if he continues his heady play throughout training camp. It is interesting to note that Dallas was seriously considering simply cutting the feisty guard in order to acquire veteran Darrell Armstrong
, who just signed with New Jersey. Dallas win now mentality may make Barea an attractive pick up for a team looking to add a young point with talent. Depth Chart:
[c]courtesy of Synergy Sports Tech: Figure represents NBA offensive percentile rank[/c]Strengths:
Dallas had great offensive efficiency from their first unit. All of the projected Mavericks starters rate as above average to excellent in overall offense. Dirk Nowitzki
and Josh Howard
play a lot of isolation on the offensive end and both are highly adept at executing with the ball in their hands. This really allows for their guards to function effectively in pick-and-roll situations because of the attention the two primary scoring options garner.
If opponents trap the ball-handler, either Nowitzki or Howard are in perfect position to attack the basket. Terry is a good pull-up jump shooter and Harris is very strong when it comes to attacking the basket. On most possessions the Mavericks get the look they want and this makes it difficult for the opposition to defend all five players in an aggressive manner.
Dallas also has very good defensive role players to complement their offensive attack. Terry, Harris, and Howard all have the ability to pressure and harass their respective assignments well. Dampier and Diop typically defend the interior quite well, challenging shots and rotating early to prevent uncontested baskets in the paint. Brandon Bass
and Eddie Jones
should help to give the Mavericks some additional defensive looks against the mobile power forwards Nowitzki has trouble staying in front of, as well as the bigger shooting guards who may give Terry trouble. Weaknesses:
Its hard to find much fault on a team that has such a balance of offense and defense as well as the depth that the Mavericks enjoy. The team is clearly built for regular season success and has the type of offensive balance and star power that typically spells post season achievement as well.
While the loss to Golden State could easily be chalked up to anomaly, it did bring about a bit of a question in terms of the teams reliance on Dirk Nowitzki
and how Dallas utilizes him offensively.
Nowitkzi gets a bulk of his offense from ISO situations as well as spot shooting. The tendency to keep Nowitzki stationary and simply get him the ball was at the center of the teams problems in the Warriors series. Golden State kept smaller defenders around the big German and kept an active help defender ready to range over and disrupt his patented spin into the lane. The result was that Nowitzki could never really get the ball in a position where he could effectively dribble to set up his shot and this completely untracked the Dallas offense.
Dallas has the supporting offense talent to offset a poor showing from their franchise big man, but theyve got to implement some more creative motion sets in order to mitigate his weakness with ball-handling against aggressive undersized defenders and help defensive schemes. More motion for Nowitzki and more catch-and-shoot situations off of screens could really eliminate any outstanding flaws in the Dallas attack. Outlook:
Expect the Mavericks to be fighting for the best record in the NBA again this year. They have a rare combination of veteran experience and overall youth that few of the other top teams in the league enjoy.
Nowitzki gives the Mavericks the ability to create substantial mismatch problems at either frontcourt position because of his range and mobility as a seven footer. Coach Avery Johnson
is one of the most hard-working individuals in the game and he has surely taken stock in his own short-comings from the previous season.
It wouldnt be surprising to see Dallas make another run back to the Western Conference Finals after taking last years early exit in stride. The media pressure on Nowitzki will be strong this year as questions about his ability to perform in the clutch will elevate as the post season nears. But if the team makes the requisite adjustments and gets better productivity out of its other players there should be no doubt that Nowitzki should be able to hold up his end of the bargain.