Preseason Report, Part 1: The Good and the Bad

The NBA begins on Sunday.

Let that sink in.

A glorious playoff run was followed by a miserable lockout, which led to an abrupt, yet pleasant, resolution. Clearly, fans had not had their emotions played with enough, so even the great news that an NBA season would indeed be played was only a precursor to a disheartening free agency period.

Well, come Sunday, all the mood swings and emotions finally become tangible, as the Mavericks take the court for the first time in months. Here at Mavs Moneyball, we like to think we're the most excited people in the world for this time to finally come, but let's be honest, who ISN'T excited? Fringe NBA fans to dedicated team writers to that dude who dances at halftime, everyone is getting that feeling.

So to help make it to Sunday, the MMB staff answered some questions about this coming season. Part two will drop Saturday afternoon. Enjoy.

1. Which player do you think is going to impress the most this season?

Andy: I'm hopeful the guy who's going to impress the most is Rodrigue Beaubois. I'm not that confident though. There's something a little strange about the kid's mental makeup, in that he seems perfectly content to have moments of brilliance followed by loafing and too-tricky play. It's like he's playing pickup, sometimes. If he matures into WANTING to be a consistent performer, he can do big things. I just don't know, though. It's hard to believe,but Roddy is older than Kevin Durant. Sometimes it's there or it isn't. You look at his mentor, Mickael Pietrus, a guy who can also jump out of the gym and shoot the three, and you really wonder. Still, Roddy is a better shooter,and much much quicker, so there's a lot of hope there too.

Tom: Dominique Jones. With Caron Butler and DeShawn Stevenson gone, Jones now has the time to shine. DoJo has scored double digits in both preseason games against a formidable Thunder line up, including defensive player Thabo Shefolosha. The number of back to backs will require more playing time from younger legs as well, and Dominique Jones will be there to take over in crucial situations.

J0shi: Brendan Haywood. At least in terms of expectations, because he's in the doghouse right now. It has been pointed out that his contract is actually fairer than proclaimed, he could start on many teams, and his playing time and effectivity highly depends on on his free throw shooting. If he gets back to his usual 60% he'll "impress" us all.

2. Which player do you think is going to disappoint the most this season?

Tom: Lamar Odom. Odom shined last year, posting record numbers in many categories, but some also called it a fluke year. Odom's numbers will certainly decline, especially in a system he is not accustomed to. Personally, I can't imagine Odom being on the team a year from now.

J0shi: Ian Mahinmi didn't look too good in the two preseason games. That would be ok for any other player (Dirk 2-for-10 anyone?) but he played overseas during the lockout and should be in shape. Still foul-prone and his offensive game is wild to say the least. I rather see small lineups with Dirk, Wright or Williams behind Haywood.

Tim: I'm afraid Jason Terry is not going to be his usual self. He unsuccessfully tried to get a contract extension this (very brief) offseason, but it became obvious that while the Mavericks appreciated all he's done, that he was not a part of their plan moving forward. The JET is always sort of a hit or miss player from a game to game basis, it seems likely that he may be missing much more than hitting this year. He's only got a year older, and now he may feel unwanted. Even the sixth man spot which he embodied for the Mavericks for years is not something he can fall back on, because the Mavericks went out and acquired last year's winner, Lamar Odom.


3. What is the Mavericks' biggest strength?

Lisa: Their experience. Veteran savvy goes a long way in this league, as was evidenced by the victory over the young Thunder in the Western Conference Finals last season. The three main acquisitions this off-season, Lamar Odom, Vince Carter and Delonte West, have all seen their fair share of basketball. They are also three smart players who should be able to pick up the system quickly and contribute from the start.

Andy: The Mavs' biggest strength will be offensive, and specifically forward depth. It's not that Shawn Marion creates a lot of shots for himself, and needs to be guarded closely, but if a defense has cracks in it, Marion will find them. It's not that Lamar Odom is more efficient than Dirk, such that taking shots away from him will improve the Mavs' offensive efficiency, but given the defensive attention Dirk demands, Lamar's going to get a lot of favorable matchups. And if all three of them are on the court? Yikes.

Tom: The Mavericks biggest strength, by far, is the Power Forward position. Dirk the best PF in the league. Chris Bosh and LeBron couldn't stop him in the playoffs. Behind him, we can't forget about the sixth man, Lamar Odom. While I expect to see his numbers decline, he would start for half of the league's teams. Even our third PF looks to be fine, with Branden Wright outperforming even the highest expectations anyone had for him in the preseason.

4. What is the Mavericks' biggest weakness?

Lisa: Their experience. Well, actually their age. The front office opted for experience over youth when they traded away Brewer and let Barea walk. We are lucky the Mavs are deep these days, because our starting lineup looks like the geriatric ward. If anyone gets hurt and our guys are forced to play more than their old bones can withstand, we'll be in deep trouble come April.

Tom: The Mavericks biggest weakness is their age. With the schedule compacted, there will be almost no period of rest for the team. The Mavs will be forced to play the bench players more now, which means younger or more experienced teams will run circles during the transition time.

Tim: Last year, Tyson Chandler was a God-send. For better or for worse, he's gone now, and with it goes the strength of the center position. Now, the Mavericks are relying on Brendan Haywood to man up and prove he is truly worthy of the contract the Mavericks gave him. There are also issues with the player backing up Haywood. Between Ian Mahinmi, Brenden Wright, Sean Williams, Dirk and Lamar, the Mavericks should be able to find a lineup that is successful for a regular season game. Once the playoffs start, though, there will be no room to experiment with lineups to find the one that is working. The Mavericks need one of these players to step up and solidify the backup spot.

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