The following preview is for the 30 teams in 30 days project.
Last Years Record: 60-22
Key Losses: Marquis Daniels and Keith Van Horn
Key Additions: Anthony Johnson, Greg Buckner, Austin Croshere
1. What significant moves were made during the offseason?
The Western Conference champs core remains intact from last season but plenty of changes were still made over the offseason.
The biggest move was the trade of fan favorite, but not necessarily coach favorite, Marquis Daniels to the Indiana Pacers for Austin Croshere. Croshere will fill right in for Keith Van Horn who right now is leaning towards retirement.
The Mavericks fortunately lost out to Minnesota for the services of Mike James. Still needing a backup point guard Donnie Nelson turned again to the Pacers. This time the Mavs sent two young prospects (Josh Powell and Rawle Marshall) and 38 year old veteran point guard Darrell Armstrong for Anthony Johnson. Armstrong could potentially be a big loss in the locker room as he was a player favorite and team leader. Armstrong will be missed off the court, but Johnson is the point guard who brings both defense and passing that the Mavericks badly needed.
Dallas used their MLE to sign former Maverick Greg Buckner from the Denver Nuggets. Buckner will hopefully be the perimeter defender they needed last season. The Mavs also signed Devean George for the veteran's minimum. George will probably end up being the odd man out in the rotation, but his championship experience could prove to be very valuable.
The Mavericks drafted Maurice Ager in the first round of this years draft and even though many consider him to be ready for the NBA he doesn't figure to get much playing time coming off of a crowded bench. The Mavs also signed undrafted rookie Pops "Whale Killer" Mensah-Bonsu from George Washington and have three other undrafted rookies who will be fighting for the 15th roster spot this preseason.
The best offseason moves were the resigning of Jason Terry and Dirk Nowitzki.
2. What are the team's biggest strengths?
I suppose the biggest strength would be depth. The Mavs backups at each position - Anthony Johnson, Greg Buckner, Jerry Stackhouse, Austin Croshere, and Erick Dampier - are each players who averaged more than 20 minutes per game last season and have experience starting games.
I don't think the Mavericks are a team with one strength that just pops off the page -- unless Dirk can be his own category.
3. What are the team's biggest weaknesses?
The officials. I'm kidding. (Really, I am)
I love that this question is hard to answer. The Mavs have offense, defense, depth, star talent, a good coach, as well as a good combination of both youth and experience.
So what are they missing? Well, if I'm nitpicking - the Mavericks finished 29th in the league last season in assists. During the Finals the Mavs often could have used a player that could better find the open man instead of having to rely on plays designed to setup favorable one-on-one situations.
The team made huge strides last season as a defensive unit. However, Dwyane Wade made it pretty clear that Mavs lacked a true shut down defender. Nobody can truly lock up a Wade or a Kobe, but Dallas is hoping the acquisition of Greg Buckner will help.
4. What are the goals for this team?
Pretty simple. The goal for every team in the NBA each year is to get better. And when you finish second, that means finishing first. This season is about becoming the 2006 / 2007 NBA champions.
5. What would the Mavs like to see out of each player this season?
- Dirk - Continued improvement in the post offensively. More of the same would be just fine.
- Jason Terry - The exact same thing as last year, except at the 2.
- Devin Harris - Make the starting point guard spot his. Improve the jump shot.
- Josh Howard - More consistency on offense. More double-doubles and less injuries. Also his signature on a contract extension
- DeSagana Diop - Steady improvement on last year's breakout. More rebounds.
- Jerry Stackhouse - Less turnovers - sixth man of the year award would be nice.
- Erick Dampier - Stop completely disappearing in some games. Force his way back into the starting lineup.
- Greg Buckner - Play good defense on the opponents' best guard each night. Stretch the offense.
- Austin Croshere - Just play tough defense, offensive contribution is secondary.
- Anthony Johnson - Perform on both ends of the floor. Won't see a reduction in his minutes from Indiana if he does.
- Maurice Ager - Just soak in as much as possible.
- Devean George - Accept a reduced role, show off his championship rings.
- DJ Mbenga - Become an every game player by showing he can play D without fouling.
- Pops Mensah-Bonsu - Play with so much energy that he can get a few minutes - like Josh Powell last season.
One game worse than last year, but I think it will get them the top seed in a Western Conference that is even tougher than last season.