October 12, 2009
Once again back is the incredible ... Ball Don't Lie's NBA previews, outlining offseason moves, projecting win totals, spinning tracks and much, much more. It's a fun, hot mess. Today, the Dallas Mavericks.
2008-09 Record: 50-32, third place in Southwest Division
Head Coach/Facial Hair: Rick Carlisle/None
Key Additions: Shawn Marion(notes), Drew Gooden(notes), Tim Thomas(notes), Quinton Ross(notes), Kris Humphries(notes), Rodrigue Beaubois(notes), Nathan Jawai(notes), Jake Voskuhl(notes)
Key Losses: Brandon Bass(notes), Antoine Wright(notes), Ryan Hollins(notes), Devean George(notes), Jerry Stackhouse(notes), Gerald Green(notes)
I'm not entirely sure why I like these Mavericks as much as I do. There's a very real chance the bottom falls out for this squad, that certain aspects of the team just fall flat, and that the squad barely musters a record above .500.
The team could tune out Rick Carlisle. Jason Kidd(notes), Dirk Nowitzki(notes), Erick Dampier(notes) and Shawn Marion could see age catch up to them. Jason Terry's(notes) hot-shooting ways could come to an end. Injuries could hit hard. The rotations just might not work. Josh Howard(notes) might not show up. The team just might not have it.
Or, everything could go perfectly, led by Carlisle. I guess I'm pretty smitten with the upside of this team, and I think you should be, too. No, I didn't bump their win projection into the high 50s, but I wouldn't be surprised if everything went perfectly. Wouldn't be surprised if everything fell apart, either, but I'm leaning closer to the one where the Mavs do exceedingly well in spite of advancing age.
Let's start at the end of the bench. Depth won't be as big a concern as it was last season, when the Mavs essentially went six deep. Even though the Mavericks lost Brandon Bass, won't see any of their draft picks contributing much and watched as Orlando matched their offer to sign Marcin Gortat(notes) (retaining the athletic pivotman), Dallas now boasts a cadre of sound contributors that can fill in various spots in a pinch.
Signing Quinton Ross, Ross' former teammate, James Singleton(notes), and (former teammates to half the NBA) Tim Thomas and Drew Gooden will help. Acquiring Marion and Kris Humphries will help as well. Only Ross can play shooting guard, still Dallas' biggest hole, but that's a position the Mavs were planning on filling by committee (with Howard, or with Kidd guarding off guards in a small lineup with Terry or Jose Barea).
Marion might not be much toward the end of his deal, and he's coming off the worst season of his career, but he's in a warm-and-fuzzy situation right now with a team that isn't dangling him and with a pass-first point looking to find him at any one of the three positions he can play.
Kidd? You'd have to consider his 40.6 percent mark from long range last year a fluke, but he can still get the job done effectively at point, even if his presence leaves Dallas' defense (just below average last year) in a bit of a pinch. Barea and Terry won't be much help here.
The solution? Listen to Carlisle, who is a fantastic coach, try to get the rotations right, hope Nowitzki (who wasn't as strong and potent as ever in 2008-09, but damn close) sustains his significant levels of production.
And keep on the lookout for teams that can't draw five figures worth of fans. Why?
Dallas has a massive trading chip in the (essentially) expiring contract of Erick Dampier. Damp makes a little over $12 million this year, but his $13 million contract for 2010-11 isn't guaranteed. So from now until draft day, essentially, the Mavs could ship Dampier for a high-stakes player or players from a team either looking to cut costs or clear cap room in anticipation for the free-agent class of 2010. Either way, the phones will be ringing, and the Mavericks cannot screw this up.
With all these players in their 30s and the Lakers showing no signs of falling back to earth, the Dampier trade just might be their best chance to give Nowitzki, Kidd and Marion the elusive championship they've been looking for.
Can the Mavericks return to the level of legitimate contenders in the Western Conference with Erick Dampier at center?
Even though Jason Kidd is 36 years old heading into the season, the Mavericks still want to push the pace and get as many points as they can in transition. The problem is that in a would-be high-octane offense, Dampier might as well be a pair of training wheels on one of those Tour de France racing bicycles. He doesn't rebound enough to trigger the break and doesn't run the floor enough to be a finisher. What's more, despite his size, Dampier is not a shut-the-door defender in the paint. If there's a weakness in the Mavs' plan for a return to prominence in the west, this is it.
— Fran Blinebury, Yahoo! Sports 2009-10 NBA Preview magazine
• The Two Man Game: "The Mavs are blessed with all kinds of options. Against bigger teams with more traditional post threats, the Mavs can use a big lineup of Kidd-Howard-Marion-Dirk-Damp. When in need of more offense, they can sub out Damp for Gooden, or play Terry at the 2 and shift Dirk to the 5. If they're looking for all-out defense, Carlisle could theoretically trot out Kidd-Ross-Howard-Marion-Damp. And all of those lineups don't even mention point guards J.J. Barea and Rodrigue Beaubois, big man Kris Humphries, or resident gunner/headcase Tim Thomas. Most of the Mavericks can swing multiple positions, and that gives Rick Carlisle nothing but options." [more]
• Mavs Moneyball: "This team, while being more athletic, still has their issues; first and foremost defensive rebounding is a big area of concern. If the Mavericks cannot get better at keeping their opponent to one shot, this could singlehandedly crush their hopes of making a deep playoff push. [The] other glaring weakness is their perimeter defense. They must get better defensive guard play from Jason Kidd and Jason Terry [...] Both of these guys do great things for this team on the offensive end, but they need to step up to the challenge on the defensive end." [more]
• NBAMate: "I saw enough glimpses of [the Mavericks] last year to make me believe they can go deep in the playoffs, but let's not forget how bumpy the road was before they got there. The Mavs were brilliant over the final 10% of the season, but pretty woeful over the first 90%. Put some of that down to adjusting to Jason Kidd if you want, and there's no doubt a new point guard requires the longest period of adjustment of all positions. But now we're seeing even more shuffling of the lineup, and I expect this team to take a little while before we see their best. Of course, if things don't go according to plan, the Mavs might have a mid-season trade up their sleeves to catapult them amongst the title favorites. Nothing about this team smells of 'building for the future' or 'developing youth.' It's about getting a championship, now, before this Kidd-Dirk window closes." [more]
TrilliTrill, "Jason Terry"
There really couldn't be an easier choice for a team song than "Jason Terry" by TrilliTrill. Not only is he a player for the Mavericks, but the song isn't quite as good as its creator thinks it is. Sorry, Mark Cuban. Anyways, we eagerly await TrilliTrill's follow-up, "Walk Like a Nowitzki."
— Trey Kerby, The Blowtorch
The Mavericks have as impressive a collection of fantasy talent as any other team in the league. Nowitzki has been delivering top-10 fantasy seasons for almost a decade and is showing no signs of slowing down. He's as safe and reliable as you can get at seventh overall in standard leagues. Kidd is aging like fine wine, and his surplus counting stats make him the most valuable player that also happens to score less than 10 points per game. His 291 threes-plus-steals were the second-most in the league in 2008-09. Terry's ridiculous efficiency makes him a roto powerhouse that can often be had at a heavy discount. His current average draft position places him in the seventh round (80.6) despite a season rank of 20 last season.
Shawn Marion's impressive run as the No.1 player in fantasy ended as soon as he left the Phoenix system, but he's still "very good" and Dallas is an excellent spot for him. He'll run the break with Kidd and play off Dirk's perimeter game — don't be shy if he's there for you at the Round 3-4 turn. Josh Howard spent roughly five years as an "upside" pick, but much of the shine is off thanks to consistent injury concerns and the fact that he's actually 29 years old at this point. He's still recovering from off-season ankle and wrist surgeries and it's a guess as to if/when he'll be 100 percent. Drew Gooden will likely be productive enough to warrant a roster spot at various points of the season, but consistency figures to be elusive.
Sign up now for Fantasy Basketball '09.
JREwing: Lots of men have tried to run roughshod over the Mavericks. Wade, 'Melo ... you can visit them in the cemetery. #OppositeDay #NBA