The preseason doesn't mean much, but it's been a relief for basketball-starved fans across the world. We've seen Chandler Parsons hit jumpers, Tyson Chandler aggressively grab rebounds, Dirk continue to do his thing, and it's at least a sense of relief that basketball is coming back quick and things are looking up.
You can't read too seriously into the outcomes or even stat-lines, but here's a few observations that can be made from the eight preseason games and an open scrimmage.
1. The Mavericks starting five will be ridiculously good on offense
Dirk and Monta Ellis both missed a couple games, preventing the full starting five from playing together much. But when they did? Red hot fire, man. Especially to start third quarters, those five were absolute killers scoring the ball. In the six preseason games that the starters didn't sit out for rest, the Mavericks scored between 106 and 117. If that's not a sign of things to come, I don't know what is.
2. Dirk is still just as good as always
Dirk's game doesn't age like most, and he showed it in the preseason, hitting short post-up jumpers and long-range bombs alike with a new jump shot release that's just a touch quicker. He doesn't draw as many fouls these days and ends most of his drives well short of the basket, but his jump shot is still as godly as ever. Get him an age-appropriate amount of rest, and he'll still carry the offense when he's on the floor.
3. This team will throw down so, so many alley oops
The guards haven't quite synced up with Tyson Chandler yet -- too many times Jameer Nelson and Devin Harris lobbed it up to him, and his only option was to try to direct it in with one hand from an awkward angle. Don't worry, it'll come in time. The Mavericks seriously might finish second in the league in alley oops behind the Clippers. Brandan Wright is one of the most dangerous finishers in the league and Chandler Parsons will get his fair share in transition.
4. We don't know how good (or bad) the defense is yet
Preseason shows us some things, but it doesn't give us a good read on the Mavericks team defense, not yet. They played zone for almost an entire game, which obviously is not a regular season strategy. Over the next few weeks, we'll see how the players start adapting to each other.
5. There is so much potential for Rick Carlisle to get creative
Like mentioned, the Mavericks front five is going to be very, very good offensively no matter who coaches them. With Rick Carlisle at the helm, though, you know he and his staff will come up with some creative ways to use Dirk's gravity to move defenses around to their liking. Enrique Garcia did a breakdown on his Spanish Mavericks site, and while you may not understand the words, the gifs pretty much speak for themselves here.
6. Al-Farouq Aminu isn't a better shooter but it might not matter
Ever since he came into the league, Aminu's desperately been trying to add any semblance of a jump shot to his game. He worked out the shot this preseason, but ended up making only seven of 26 for 26.9 percent -- a couple decimal points worse than he shot in the regular season last year. Still, he's a grade A nuisance on the court and a fantastic rebounder who should see some time in Dallas at backup power forward.
7. Tyson Chandler's health is imperative for a successful season
Granted, everyone has to stay healthy, but it's of particular concern for Tyson, who has a long injury history. With only Brandan Wright and Greg Smith behind him after cutting Bernard James, the Mavericks are ill-equipped to sustain a lengthy injury to their starting center. You can only play so much small-ball, and without Chandler crashing and recovering on the pick-and-roll, the Mavericks defense could easily fall to shambles.
8. Ricky Ledo's still quite a ways off
The Mavericks stuck with the bench scoring and kept him on the roster, likely to spend most of his year in the D-League. That's good, because despite plenty of talent, Ledo hasn't quite figured it out yet. He's a decent shooter and poor finisher who desperately needs to improve in both areas to satisfy his likely role as an off-the-bench scorer. He's also prone to poor decisions while shooting the ball.
9. Devin Harris needs some consistent scoring off the bench
Harris was great last year, truly great, but he had a few stretches of games where he could not put the ball through the net for any amount of effort. This mainly got looked over, and the reason for that was threefold: he was still running the offense effectively and distributing the ball incredibly well, he was still playing his usual fantastic defense, and the bench was supported by Vince Carter's consistent scoring that it didn't need Harris. Now, with Vince gone, the Mavericks will need Harris to play a slightly larger role in that situation.
10. Richard Jefferson isn't just the next Wayne Ellington
After a solid, under-the-radar season with the Jazz last year, Jefferson showed he can still do some things. He threw down some dunks, hit some threes and all-around looked like the savvy veteran that Rick Carlisle loves playing in this rotation. If all goes well, he may be able to help alleviate the pressure on Devin Harris as the bench's leading scorer.