It's about that time! For those of you just tuning in to "As the Mavericks Turn" let's catch you up to speed on what you have missed:
Last Year's Record: 55-27 (First in the Southwest Division and Second in the Western Conference)
Key Losses: Erick Dampier, Eduardo Najera and Matt Carroll
Key Additions: Dominique Jones, Tyson Chandler, Alexis Anjinca and Ian Mahinmi1. What significant moves were made during the off-season?
The Dallas Mavericks conceded the dream of the summer blockbuster deal and opted for a trade that upgrades their front line while retaining some of their long-term financial flexibility. The Mavericks struck a deal with the Charlotte Bobcats that had the Mavs acquiring Tyson Chandler and Alexis Ajinca from in exchange for Erick Dampier, Eduardo Najera and Matt Carroll as well as undisclosed cash considerations. Dallas also acquired the 25th overall pick in this summer's draft to obtain the rights of shooting guard Dominique Jones out of South Florida. To finish things up, they agreed to a two-year deal with 6-foot-11 project Ian Mahinmi. Due to Tim Thomas leaving the Mavericks for the second time to take care of his ill wife, the Mavericks are looking at Brian Cardinal and Steve Novak to help bolster their depth at the power forward spot.
2. What are the team’s biggest strengths?
The Mavericks retained Dirk Nowitzki, so having one of the best players in the world and arguably the toughest cover is an incredible strength. Despite his age, Jason Kidd is still a solid point guard and can contribute on both sides of the floor. The two-headed monster of Brendan Haywood and Tyson Chandler will provide the Mavericks their most athletic and defensive-minded center rotations they have ever had. Those two centers should be able to anchor the team with their rebounding skills as well.
According to Shaun Powell at NBA.com, a huge advantage for the Mavericks is their bench. Art Garcia at NBA.com believes that is the case as well. If you remember, we also gave you a look at how the Mavericks view their depth. Whether it all fits together with "role acceptance" and they are able to maximize their depth will be answered at a later date, but a youth infusion (Roddy Beaubois, Dominique Jones and Ian Mahinmi) can help this aging roster. The Mavericks have historically been known as a team that is good at minimizing turnovers and excelling at the free throw line, they are hoping those trends can continue in 2010-11.
Based on a scope of five years, last year appears to be an aberration in terms Dallas defending their home-court. This past season was the first time in five seasons that the Mavericks lost more than nine games at home, they lost 13 home games during the 2009-2010 season. The homecourt appears to be a solid advantage for the Mavericks.
3. What are the team’s biggest weaknesses?
The consistent problem that has lingered for the Mavericks is their inability to find a "Robin" to their "Batman" a.k.a. Dirk. You've seen players such as Jason Terry, Josh Howard and Caron Butler try to play the role but they've ultimately shown themselves to be more of an "Alfred" role. Someone needs to emerge as the second star and be able to reduce the workload for Dirk, especially in the playoffs.
Historically, Dallas has had stigma that they are soft. The trade during last season's All-Star Break acquiring Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson definitely added some toughness to the squad. Additionally, there has been a diagnosis showing the Mavericks have had moments of being incredibly allergic to paint. They have talented shooters but they fall in love with the jumper way too easily. If Caron Butler can re-emerge as a consistent scoring threat, Roddy Beaubois harnesses his speed to attack the lane and Dominique Jones' fearlessness transfers to the pro game then that will add a new dimension to the cast of shooters that are on board.
Your strength can also be your weakness, depth could cause headaches for Rick Carlisle. Many heavily criticized his usage of then-rookie, Roddy Beaubois and many feel that ultimately crippled the Mavericks last year. There are many talented players on the roster but most of them are more one-dimensional players versus being well-rounded, it's up to Rick Carlisle to find the proper balancing act with the bench. The bench potentially could have guys like Tyson Chandler, Shawn Marion and Jason Terry and egos could be bruised along the way. Winning always fixes any issue but things could get very ugly if the Mavericks struggle over the course of the season.
Can Butler and/or Roddy Beaubois emerge as a legitimate running mate to Dirk? Will Chandler avoid the injury bug that has plagued him for several seasons? Jason Terry is due for a bounce-back season, will he get it? There are a series of questions surrounding the Mavericks that feel like you're going to get a good answer from the question, it's just a matter of actually seeing it come to fruition.
4. What are the goals for this team?
Since being two wins away from winning the 2005-06 Finals and falling short against the Miami Heat, the only goal has been to get back to the finals and finish the job. The goal is to win a championship and nothing less. A lot of moves have been made to "mortgage the future" and such, this team definitely isn't young so it's definitely a win-now mindset. How many different ways can it be said? The bar has been set as high as it can go and it's definitely a championship or bust mentality in Big D.
5. Are the Mavericks prepared for unexpected declines over the course of the season?
Age and productivity are some serious concerns for key players in the main rotation. What happens if Marion's defense slips, Kidd losses his battle against Father Time and Terry's shooting completely falls off the map? Any or all of these scenarios could happen this coming season but I do feel the Mavericks have some resources to help compensate for this potential disasters.
The "Backcourt of the Future" in Beaubois and Jones should get solid minutes over the regular season to help preserve the older players and get more experience for this season and the future. Both players are still relatively unknown but their potential is sky high.
The Mavericks have preached financial flexibility and that could come in handy if the team suffers setbacks. No-brainer deals might not be there but moves could be made to further replenish the depth of the roster as well. They've strategically placed themselves in a spot to remain a threat for the title and capable of being able to pounce on an opportunistic deal when it presents itself. To an extent, I believe the Mavericks have braced themselves internally and externally in case a worst-case scenario occurs.
Predicted Record: 53-29 (First in the Southwest Division and Third in the Western Conference)
The Mavericks should still be in top half of the ultra-elite Western Conference. That record would give Dallas their 11th-consecutive year of 50 or more wins. They're looking to join the Lakers, Celtics and Spurs as teams that had strung together at least 10 consecutive seasons of 50 victories and won at least one NBA title. The suggested record should assure them first place in the division and it's a "Pick'em" between the Mavericks and Thunder in regards to the second seed behind the Lakers.