Adi Joseph of USA Today Sports is doing yet another power ranking. (Because that's all any of us can do in the dead space between free agency and training camp, right?) Joseph is about midway through his "NBA Watchability Rankings." Here's what he had to say about why you can't miss the Mavs this season:
German engineering: Nowitzki already will go down as one of the most efficient scorers in NBA history, but he spent this offseason tweaking his shot to make it even more difficult to block than a 7-footer with a high release already is. His "Iron Leg" step-back jumper was back in full effect last season after a year dealing with injury, and it will be fascinating to see what he has left.
The understated genius: Which active NBA coach is the most games above .500 for his career? Gregg Popovich, of course. Who's second? The Mavs' Rick Carlisle. His 569-399 career record might be easy to overlook with only one title to his name, but Carlisle is one of the most respected coaches in the NBA among peers and players, shown by his leading the National Basketball Coaches Association.
The Parsons project: The 25-year-old was a second-round pick who ended up playing third wheel to James Harden and Dwight Howard with the Houston Rockets. He now moves to a second-wheel role for the Mavericks, and they paid him about $15 million a year to develop into their future star. Parsons' confidence and charisma are obvious by the way he carries himself. Now he must prove worth the risk.
So.... why are the Mavs 14th? Unfortunately, Joseph never explains his reasoning, as these articles seem to function more as season previews than true rankings. He does--however baffling this may seem to most of us--believe that the Mavs will miss the playoffs this year. He also seems to think that last year's team overachieved. I guess he missed the part where Dallas had one of the top offenses in the entire NBA.
But this is an interesting question worth discussing: are the Mavs watchable? In some ways, last year's squad featured an offense that was much like that of the Spurs: hyper efficient and thus (in some people's eyes) boring. So perhaps the casual fan, who is supposedly more interested in dunks than beautiful passing, would agree that the Mavs are not particularly watchable.
But I think that is a bit unfair. Last year's Mavs were plenty exciting, though not always for the best reasons. Can you recall a game last year (other than that one really great game against OKC) where the Mavs didn't blow a big lead? Do you remember the end of a Mavs game not being tense and stressful? It's difficult, isn't it?
If suspense and drama aren't watchable... well maybe we should all stop watching Scandal?
This year's Mavs will hopefully avoid those blown leads, but they may be more watchable than last year's squad for more traditional reasons. The Chandlers Tyson and Parsons, Al-Farouq Aminu, and Greg Smith increase the "dunkability" prowess of the Mavericks, who last year pretty much only had Brandan Wright. They may not quite be lob city (Rick Carlisle has a more beautiful and efficient offensive scheme than that), but the offense should have plenty of fireworks for fans this year.
I don't know who USA Today is going to place ahead of the Mavs, but I bet by the end of the season it'll be obvious that the Mavs are plenty watchable.