DALLAS, TX - MAY 05: Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder embraces Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks after the Thunder defeating the Mavericks during Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center on May 5, 2012 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
The Mavericks have reached the dead zone of the offseason. They've acquired their fifteen man roster, and until training camp starts, there's just a big black hole sucking up nearly any and everything related to the Mavs. Right now, there's no set date, but if training camp keeps consistent with past years (it started on September 28th in 2010), there's about two months until it arrives.
Until then, the Mavericks as an organization may not be that busy, but the players damn sure better be. Just for fun, let's list the fifteen candidates on the Mavericks roster and pretend to be their trainer. What part of their game do they need to improve before the Mavericks head to training camp?
Dirk Nowitzki: Uhm...can't improve perfect.
Shawn Marion: As the Mavs' go-to defensive stopper, and as a 34 year old, his focus is keeping his athleticism at its peak. The Mavericks have more players than ever to provide offense, but Marion is still the defensive leader of this team.
Find the fountain of youth Carter will be asked to play backup SF behind Marion. He has the size and defensive ability to do so, but his total rebound rate (7.5 last season) is in the bottom half of all SF's last season. A focus on the glass would be a welcomed sight.
Chris Kaman: His stats have been declining for several years, but it has also been several years since he's been paired with great PF, much less two. He needs to remember how to play with his former Clipper and Germany teammates Dirk and Brand.
Elton Brand: Surrounded down low with players who are average defenders at best, Brand needs to keep up his athleticism and provide every bit of the same defensive presence he gave Philadelphia to help make them the best defensive team in the NBA.
O.J. Mayo: Watch a ton of game film and figure out what he did different his rookie year that made him score nineteen points a game with efficient shooting, compared to thirteen points a game last season shooting just 41% from the field.
Darren Collison: He's really the only true point guard on the Mavericks roster. However, he still likes to shoot and will be one of the few Mavericks who likes finishing at the rim, so learn to balance the offense by both scoring and passing.
Delonte West: The Mavs made us nervous, but West is officially a Maverick once again. His drive and kick game could be lethal with the shooting threats the Mavericks now have down low, so continued progress on that aspect would be a wonderful for the offense.
Dahntay Jones: Shoot about ten thousand three pointers. Dahntay shot 43% from deep last season, but also made just 13% back in '09-'10. The Mavericks need someone who can consistently space the floor.
Brandan Wright: There are questions of how much playing time Wright will actually receive when the roster is healthy, so Brandan needs to stand out. A 15-foot jumper would be nice, but it's no different than what Kaman and Brand offer. Wright needs to show he can be a defensive presence both by blocking shots and not being pushed around down low when playing man-on-man.
Rodrigue Beaubois: Oh, Roddy B. Where to start. The easy way out is to say that he just needs to get more consistent. I think finding his three point stroke is would help him get back to the kid we saw during his rookie season and sporadically since then.
Dominique Jones: He showed an improved jumper during summer league play, making threes as well as contested shots inside the arc. We know he can drive the hole and draw fouls, finish, or create a shot for a teammate. Throw in some stout defense this season, and it might be enough for Jones to get some playing time here and there.
Jared Cunningham: After missing Summer League, Cunningham has a lot to prove, especially with the crowded back court he's been lumped into. Without seeing him, it's hard to know specifically what he needs to work on, but just making plays certainly wouldn't hurt.
Jae Crowder: The Summer League favorite impressed with his shooting stroke and tenacity. I'm not sure how big of a role the Mavericks can make for him this year, but continue polishing his game and his time will come sooner than we might think.
Bernard James: He's more physically mature than most, but to bang with the NBA big men, bulking up just a little bit more wouldn't hurt. Though he projects as a D-League player, he needs to be ready to go as a backup center if Kaman or Brand get injured. Both have past history, so this isn't as unlikely as it seems.