I'd imagine you guys all know the drill by now. The MMB crew and myself answer a handful of questions about how we expect the season to turn out this. Look for
(editor's note: Most of the answers were submitted a week or two ago, so if something strikes you as a little out of date, that's why.)
5) What's one of the biggest factors for this season to be successful?
Alan: Health, obviously. Dirk's presence is absolutely critical, and even if Brand ends up starting they'll need Kaman's size to match up with the bigger opponents in the West. And several of their other bench guys missed time to injury last year, like Brandan Wright, Roddy, Delonte West, Vince Carter. On paper they have great depth but they need those guys to actually be able to go.
Josh: Get the offense back on track. It was offense, not defense, that cost the Mavs in 2012, despite the loss of Tyson Chandler. Rick Carlisle and his staff should be able to keep the defense in a top-10 range with this roster...it's the offense that needs to rebound from the bottom of the league for this team to have a chance.
Tim: Provided injured players return as scheduled and don't suffer any delays, I would say the performance of Collison and Mayo is huge. Both are young players, and it's difficult to predict what they might do this year. They have shown talent and an ability to take their respective game up a level, as seen by Collison when filling in for Chris Paul and Mayo during his rookie year. Most likely, we'll see them stick to their career averages, and it's also plausible that their play could fall off, too. It's just impossible to tell right now, but if one or both can really excel in this Mavericks system, that's a big deal.
Kirk: Past Dirk's health, it will be Collison and Mayo and their ability to grow. Collison had an excellent rookie year but regressed some last year. Mayo is in a similar position. Memphis had to move him to a 6th man position since he struggled defensively and was essentially a 4th option in the offense. His position in Dallas allows him a chance to grasp the mantle of Dirk's side kick, which as Terry, Nash, and Tyson Chandler will tell you, can result in delightful paydays down the road (yeah, yeah, I know, Nash and Chandler helped Dirk as much as he helped them, but Dirk basically MADE Terry).
Andy: Cohesion. This team is going to need a lot of things to go right to compete and it starts with cutting down on turnovers and getting guys the ball where they can do something with it. I see a lot of smart ballplayers out there, and it's possible, but they'll need to get that part done in a hurry.
Tom: The recovery of Kaman and Dirk. If one or the other does not recover to most of their strength, the Mavericks will face problems against other team's big men, especially considering that most of the Western Conference have, or are developing, a strong duo at the PF/C spots.
6) How long do you think it will take this team of mostly new arrivals to fully mesh?
Josh: At least a month, maybe two. It's impossible to know when exactly it will all finally click, but based on the preseason, it won't be anytime soon.
Tim: Everything the Mavericks do is based around Dirk, and if he's out of the picture for a few weeks, it's going to be hard for the players to really mesh until his return. I'm sure they will be very capable a few weeks after his return, but full cohesion may not happen for several months. And hey, what's wrong with hitting full stride in April, right in time for the playoffs?
Kirk: A while. We fans have been kidding ourselves a bit about Brand and Kaman; they didn't fit well together with the Clippers. Add in the fact that Collison and Mayo need to discover who they are and we might be in for a rough ride. At least Jae Crowder will be ready to go from day one.
Andy: I hate to be a naysayer, but it may not happen this year. The major difference between 2010, when the Mavericks had a first round exit, and 2011, when they won a championship was (well, it was Tyson Chandler, but also) chemistry. If you'll remember how much out of sorts Shawn Marion looked in 2010, you'll hear what I'm saying. Teams take a while to mesh. Longer, maybe, than these Mavericks have.
Tom: After twelve games, or a little less than a month into the season, with the current players that are healthy. However, it will take more time to fully mesh once Dirk and Kaman return, and the time for every player to mesh may take up to two and a half months, or about the end of the year.
Alan: Hopefully Dirk is back by December, so let's say by January they'll be completely on the same page.