As shocking as it seems, the NBA is powering up for another jam-packed season. One team looking to make a splash this season is the Dallas Mavericks. After missing out twice on D-12, and unable to sign Deron Williams (blah blah blah insert overused headline here), Dallas rushed to put together a capable roster that will look to bounce back from missing the playoffs for the first time in twelve years. We’ll take a look at not IF, but how much their work is cut out for them.
I was taking a look at the upcoming roster the Mavs had and kept thinking…this looks like 2010-11 pre-season all over again. Why, you ask? It’s actually very simple. In 2010, Maverick fans didn’t know what to expect. They had just came off a disappointing first round exit to San Antonio, adopted a few old farts, and the biggest acquisition was an injury riddled (so far) dud named Tyson Chandler. Sound somewhat familiar? So to make it easier, I’ll be comparing this season’s roster to the “puzzle piece masterpiece” roster in 2010-11 to instill a little wishful thinking in Maverick fans.
Jose Barea vs. Devin Harris
Barea was a HUGE factor in the 2011 playoffs. He wasn’t the scorer, the assist leader, or the board man. He was just an all-around “X-Factor’’ that Dallas needed so badly. Dallas made the mistake of shipping Devin Harris in the almighty trade that sent Jason Kidd back to Dallas in 2008. Granted, Barea had a few years to gel with the Dallas lineup, but that really shouldn’t stop Harris due to the fact that there are more new guys than Barea had a few years ago. Should Dallas come into a stride like they did at the end of 2011 season, Harris should prove to be a big “X-factor” type of guy for this new Dallas squad.
Tyson Chandler vs. DeJuan Blair
Dallas got a HUGE steal in 2013 with the addition of the cheap DeJuan Blair from a crowded Spurs bench. Coincidently, Dallas acquired Mr. Chandler the very same way a few years prior. Taking on an injury riddled potential star that was struggling with health and failing to make an impact in the current roster situation they were in. Blair likely won’t be the defensive force Chandler was, but with Dallas boasting the best medical staff in the NBA, this should be a no-brainer. Let’s try not to get ahead of ourselves, but Blair could be a big steal for Dallas. Blair has the defensive awareness down pat. Where intrigue lies is how much he will be able to contribute on the offensive end. If Blair can average at least 15 a night, it should make a viable third scoring option (behind Nowtizki and Ellis), and force opponents into a double team situation on one of the three listed players on any given night. Let’s hope he can stay healthy enough to prove San Antonio wrong.
The Woe is Me:
Caron Butler vs. Shawn Marion
In 2010, Dallas had its eyes set on Caron Butler taking a huge leadership role off the team. Yeah, that didn’t go as planned. Caron spent the entire season in streets. Shawn Marion has been riding a lucky streak these last few years when it comes to injuries. Now I would never wish for a play to get injured (especially The Matrix), but if there is one player who looks to be the drop that forces guys to step up, it’s the injury to Marion. Time will tell if Marion is still suiting up or leading from the bench. We wish you the best of luck!
Jason Kidd vs. Jose Calderon
Bringing in Jason kidd and Deshawn Stevenson in a trade-deadline move of young buck Devin Harris to New Jersey was VERY controversial. As it proves, Kidd was the glue that held together a championship team and helped defeat the heavily favored Heat in six games. Point blank, without Jason Kidd…there is no title. The move to sign Jose Calderon this offseason was welcomed by others…and not so much by most. Some say bringing an aging point guard seemingly past his prime would be very costly for Dallas. Which begs the question, did you barely forget Jason Kidd? At this point, it remains to be seen how much Maverick fans REALLY love Calderon, but it’s looking good so far. And it might take a season for everyone to warm up to him. Now hear this; if there is one player who is going to be the glue of this new squad, it’s Jose Calderon. The only question is…how strong the glue is.
The Defensive Anchor:
DeShawn Stevenson vs. Brandan Wright
It could be up for discussion, but the 2011 season’s defensive success could’ve been wholly accredited to Tyson Chandler. But then again, no one asked me. Yes, there is no denying Chandler was the voice of the team, defensively. Now I ask you, who was asked to guard Lebron James for the entire 2011 NBA finals series? Good ole number 90 something, DeShawn Stevenson. And a fantastic job he did. You can put it all on LeBron not showing up, but give Stevenson credit where due. He stuck it to LBJ. Brandan Wright has been accommodating to a young and developing Dallas team. Is he known for his defensive prowess like Stevenson? No. Is this a make or break season for Wright? Definitely. With a loaded scoring team, and an unknown defensive presence so far…Wright could find his niche’ and make this a breakthrough season, defensively. He has all the tools necessary, just needs to apply them. And as they say, there is no better time than the present. Step on up to the plate, young man.
The Father Time:
Jason Terry vs. Vince Carter
When Jason Kidd came back to Big D, Terry took a backseat and immediately found success as the sixth man. Going into 2010, he was considered one of the best sixth men in the league, and only finished second for the award to Lamar Odom in 2011. Terry hasn’t seemed to slow down with age, only progressing and becoming a wiser play all the same. The same can be said about Vince Carter, who has led a strange path since his days in New Jersey and Toronto. All in all, Vince should consider himself one of the key parts of this franchise now, because he is. Much like Terry did in 2010-11, look for Carter to lead his teammates on and off the court. Look for Carter to be passed the sixth man torch.
Dirk Nowitzki vs…himself AND Monta Ellis
As always, Dirk has been the heart and soul of this team. The Dallas Maverick world seems to revolve on how well Dirk is doing (if you were privy to the first half of Dallas’ season in 2012, this makes perfect sense). Regardless, Dirk will always be himself. Win or lose, Dirk will be Dirk, and Dirk will continue to be the heart of this team. BUT…should there be a “new guy” amongst a team muddled with veterans and whipper snappers, its Monta Ellis. After being tasked to jumpstart a lacking (and one dimensional) offense in Dallas, Ellis has taken the reins since game one and hasn’t looked back. There will never be another Dirk Nowitzki, and seeing his career with my own eyes has been a true blessing. In the same breath, if there was a new face of the franchise in the making, it would start will Monta and end with Ellis. Time will tell, I guess.
Devin Harris, Gal Makel, Shane Larkin, and Jose Calderon
Let me just start off by saying, I’m a sucker for a pass first point guard. Any knuckle dragger can hog the ball for himself and do his own thing (Russ Westbrook, I’m looking at you), but it is that of a genius to put his teammates before himself night after night. And that’s what you have with these guys. With Jose Calderon leading the charge, look for Harris, Larkin, and Mekel to feed off the pass-first mentality Dallas has instilled. No one really knows what to expect from Mekel and Larkin (and hopefully they won’t have to prove much this season), but if they can learn from Calderon and learn the ropes of the NBA and being a positive teammate, then there might be a bright future for Dallas after all.
Vince Carter, Wayne Ellington, Monta Ellis, and Ricky Ledo
The shooting guard spot has the potential to be one of the strongest. We already have seen Monta Ellis taking a MASSIVE amount of the scoring load off of number 41’s shoulders, but time will tell if that sticks. Vince Carter should be a positive sixth man, with the positive reinforcement of Ellington and young stud Ricky Ledo. Overall, there should be no complaints with the two slot in Dallas.
Jae Crowder and Shawn Marion
This, unfortunately, is Dallas’ weakest position. Crowder tends to play a hybrid 3-4 man role, and Marion is primarily used on a defensive platform. Which works perfectly for Dallas, but don’t expect too much out of these guys. Crowder is coming off what was a promising start, but tapered when Crowder seemed to get caught up in the longevity of the long and strenuous abyss they call an NBA season. Marion is coming off a so-so year, and should prove to have a smaller role in Dallas with the addition of a few key younger fellas. The expectations are not high with this position.
Dirk Nowitzki and Brandan Wright
There isn’t really much to be said about expectations from Dirk. He will continue to be Dirk, like the years of Dirk before him, and years of Dirk of past and present. All in all, he is Dirk. At this point, Dallas fans will take anything and everything they can get from Dirk. They’re just happy to have him, as usual. Brandan Wright, though, is another story. With his exceptional wingspan and untapped defensive potential (as described earlier), Wright needs to find his identity in a crowded team or else he could find himself expendable next off-season. The choice is yours, my good man.
This season’s addition of DeJuan Blair and Sam Dalembert could prove to be a two-headed juggernaut. Blair is a two-sided volcano just waiting to erupt, and Dalembert is a solid, solid improvement from the similar role he’ll play in regards to Brendan Haywood (not even missed). Look for Blair to make heated rival San Antonio sorry for dumping on him, and he could potentially be a comeback player of the year candidate.
Overall, I think Dallas will have a good season. Not great, but good. It might be a good show of faith that the future is bright in Dallas. I don’t want to get ahead of myself by implying Dallas has another dark horse title team on their hands, but I also wouldn’t rule it out. All microscopes are focused on the defense. Let’s not forget that Rick Carlisle is a defensive GENIUS. Not a messiah, but a genius, nonetheless. Meaning, he isn’t a miracle worker, but he won’t have an absolutely horrid defense on his hands. Everyone seems to discount that for some unknown reason. Might I also remind you that everyone counted out the defense for Dallas in 2010-11. In fact, there wasn’t a lot of expectation for that team, either. Again, trying not to get ahead of myself, but this team could prove to be something special. Surely, if not this season, then seasons upcoming.
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