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.