Know Thy Enemy: Dallas Mavericks
Last Season:50-32 (.610, 3rd in the Southwest Division, 6th in the Western Conference)
Key Additions: Traded for Shawn Marion and Kris Humphries, signedDrew Gooden, Tim Thomas and Quinton Ross, drafted Rodrigue Beubois
Key Losses: Brandon Bass, Jerry Stackhouse, Ryan Hollings, Antoine Wright, Devean George
Generally speaking, folks who do this sort of thing for a living have tabbed three teams as primary threats to the Lakers in the Western Conference: Portland, San Antonio, and Denver (quibble about the order amongst yourselves, that's how I'd arrange them at least in terms of wins). If there's a fourth team capable of crashing the party, it's likely the Mavs. It's a big if. Capital I, capital F. (There would be more, but it's a short word.) Dallas will be good, but for them to crash the party at the top of the conference, a lot has to go right. But it's not beyond imagination.
The addition of Marion to the core of Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, and Josh Howard gives Rick Carlisle and Co. heaps of offensive versatility and a wide variety of dynamic players to help push the squad. There are plenty of questions. Marion's presence necessitates a bit of a lineup shuffle. They don't have much going on in the post after Erick Dampier, and he's not all that much himself. Gooden will play some center, but he's undersized there for sure. Plus, to say the Mavs are a veteran bunch would be an understatement. Some would call them old.
To help get some insight into the happenings in Big D, I hit up Philip Baggett over at MavsMoneyball.com with some questions. Click below for the answers, but only if you want the truth, and feel you can handle it.
1) The Mavs seem now to have a jam packed frontcourt with the addition of Shawn Marion. How do you see him fitting in? What has to be adjusted for Dallas to get the most out of that trade?
Shawn Marion adds several dimensions to this team that have been missing for quite awhile. First of all Shawn is a very good defensive player on the perimeter. For the past several years what has killed the Mavericks are perimeter players being able to get to the basket late in the shot clock. By adding Marion they now have a guy who can force their opponent into a forced jump shot. Secondly even though he is not quite the player he once was, he is still plays above the rim. His jump shot as ugly as it may look, is still very effective and must be accounted for. Shawn has already begun to fit in very nicely with his teammates. The only adjustments needed, will simply be, he and his teammates getting know each other and begin to trust that each will be in the right position.
2) Depth was a huge problem for the Mavs last season. They lost Brandon Bass and missed out on Marcin Gortat but were still pretty active. Overall, is it still an issue?
If Drew Gooden can continue to play the way he has so far in the pre-season, and Roddy B (Beubois)can continue to develop, depth is not going to be an issue. However if Gooden struggles and Roddy B cannot become consistent with what he does, depth could again be a factor. I mean, lets be honest: I can promise you at some point this season Josh Howard will get hurt again, and, well, Dampier is just not very good. So those two guys are going to have to be ready to fill the voids.
3) Everyone focuses on the age of Boston's Big Three, but the Mavs have some questions there as well. How concerned are you about the relatively advanced years of this bunch? Have you pre-written any AARP jokes?
To me age alone should never be an issue, only the abilities of the player. Does age affect a player’s play? Of course it does, but I think sometimes people make entirely too much about how old someone is. Great players are great because they learn how to change their game as they get older and a step slower, just because that player can no longer make the “plays of the day” on ESPN does not mean that you no longer have to account for where they are on the floor. I am perfectly fine with the age of this team, and as a matter of fact I think it can be a good thing for them. Younger is not always better. The core group on this team has been through a lot in their time in Dallas, and those experiences can help them in many ways.
I have not written any jokes, mainly because I do not think I am that funny, but also because I myself am getting old and do not think its all that funny.
4) On paper, there's a lot of talent here. What are the team's biggest assets, where are the biggest weaknesses?
This has been and will continue to be a very potent offensive team. All of the moves made in the off-season strengthened that side. While this team has always been a very good running team, with the moves made in the off-season I believe they have become even better. They now have players that can finish and finish with authority. They also have gotten much better on the defensive end. The team's goal is to become a legitimate top 10 defensive unit, and with the players on this team now that is actually possible. The weaknesses on this team have been and are still low post play, and another person who can score in crunch time besides Dirk. Jason Terry has done a exceptional job coming off the bench but this team desperately needs someone to step up and be willing to take the big shot at the end of games.
5) As fans, how confident are you in Cuban? Do you believe he'll deliver you title caliber teams?
There is no other owner in the league that I would rather have. While Mark can rub people the wrong way sometimes and has been known to run his mouth when he probably should not, there is no doubting his love for this team. Mark will do everything in his power and use everything within his means to bring a championship to Dallas. As far as do I believe “he’ll deliver you title caliber teams?” I believe he has already done that. Year in year out the Mavericks are in the conversation. By the way had it not been for the multitude of phantom fouls against Mr. Wade in Miami we would already have one championship, and that could have drastically changed the direction of this team today. As long as Cuban is at the controls the Mavericks are in very good hands.
(Ed.Note: That wasn't a very well worded question. It's pretty obvious the guy will spend to build a winning roster. I was mostly interested in finding out if fans ever tire of the antics and the sideshow... something totally unmentioned in the question.)
Thanks again to Phillip for the insight.
When it's all said and done, the Mavs are an improved team, but not one with enough balance to crack the upper crust of the Western Conference. The lack of dependable interior play will hurt against the likes of Portland and San Antonio, and especially the Lakers. It'll make for an extremely interesting offseason, since the window on this team isn't open very wide. Does Mark Cuban stick with it, or make some serious moves to try and make a splash this summer?
Prediction: 52-30, 2nd in the Southwest Division, 6th in the Western Conference.