It’s almost time for NBA basketball again and the Dallas Mavericks training camp roster and schedule are now available.
Dirk Nowitzki: F, 7-0/245, Born 6/19/78, 17th year from Würzburg/Germany
What can you say that hasn’t already said about Dirk? Another healthy year will hopefully not see any decline in his play and, with Chandler Parsons, Mark Cuban says the scoring burden should be distributed even more evenly. Still, Dirk has been working this summer on a faster release, exemplifying the Larry Bird-like work ethic he’s always had. With more firepower behind him that perhaps he's ever had, Dirk should be well rested without having to carry the team.
Jae Crowder: F 6-6/235, born 7/6/90, 3rd year from Marquette
The Mavericks have been needing a defensive stopper in the backcourt and Crowder has the tools but can he step up? His play has been inconsistent, mostly on the offensive end, but his improvement could be a key factor in helping the Maverick defense on the wings.
Monta Ellis: G, 6-3/185, born 0/26/85, 10th year from Lanier HS
Monta’s arrival in Dallas worked out better than most analysts predicted…a match made in heaven. Ellis used his speed to drive to the basket more than anyone else in the NBA and matured as a facilitator while working the pick-and-roll with Dirk to perfection. With more attention devoted to Chandler Parsons, Ellis is likely to continue to be effective.
Devin Harris: G, 6-3/185, born 2/27/83, 11th year from Wisconsin
Harris struggled with consistency after foot surgery last years but looked stronger in the playoffs with solid play in the Spurs series. The Mavs need defense in the backcourt and Harris may be called upon to play both guard positions.
Brandan Wright: C/F, 6-10/240, born 10/5/87, 7th year from North Carolina
Brandan Wright’s high-flying aerobatics are not only fun to watch, they’re incredibly efficient and have provided the team it's only significant inside offense since Tyson left. With TC back as well as Greg Smith, Wright won’t be needed as much at center which hopefully means he’ll get some meaningful minutes at power forward, where he could dominate.
Bernard James: C/F, 6-10/230, born 2/7/85, 3rd year from Florida State
Sarge enters his third year after strong performances in the D-League and the Summer League but with more frontcourt depth in front of him than in the past. More playing time will be hard to come by unless there’s been noticeable improvement. He's shown he can score, rebound and defend against lesser competition but can he compete against other rotation players?
THE NEW CREW
Al-Farouq Aminu: F, 6-9/215, born 9/21/90, 5th year from Wake Forest
Aminu averaged about seven points and seven boards in his last two years in New Orleans. His shooting needs work so his offense other than around the basket is limited but his defensive skills are already excellent and with Rick Carlisle’s help, he should help fill the void left by Shawn Marion.
Tyson Chandler: C, 7-1/240, born 10/2/82 , 14th year from Dominguez High School
The fan favorite and 2011 NBA Champ brings his smile, enthusiasm and defense back to Dallas after three years lacking his presence around the rim. His last year in New York was filled with injury and controversy so everyone is hoping his past in Dallas will repeat itself.
Raymond Felton: G, 6-1/205, born 6/26/84, 10th year from North Carolina
After years of ups and downs, Felton comes to Dallas after the worst season of his career looking for a new start. He’s never been a great shooter and doesn’t have to be, but he’ll have to be in shape, injury-free and motivated to garner playing time with Jameer Nelson and Devin Harris on the roster.
Richard Jefferson: F, 6-7/234, born 6/21/80, 14th year from Arizona
Jefferson has shown he can still play and will likely be expected to help replace Vince Carter’s bench scoring. As a starter in Utah last year he averaged about 10 points in 27 minutes per game, similar to his production for the last several years save two years ago in Golden State, but his 3-point shooting has been over 40 percent for four of the last five years.
Jameer Nelson: G, 6-0/190, Born 2/9/82, 12th year from St. Joseph’s
The likely new starter at point guard, Nelson will attempt to replace José Calderón’s steady hand and three-point shooting. He likely won’t be quite at Calderón’s level but he is a smart, experienced distributor and a solid shooter who should benefit from having more weapons around him than he ever did in Orlando.
Chandler Parsons: F, 6-9/227, born 10/25/88, 4th year from Florida
An up-and-coming star with a versatile offensive game, Parsons appears enamored with the Mavs' organization all the way from Mark Cuban to an offensive idol in Dirk and a defensive mentor in Tyson Chandler. He's indicated the culture in Houston was primarily focused on offense and if he's truly as "locked in" to the defensive mindset and getting better as he says, he could grow into an All-Star very soon. His presence gives Dallas a legit "Big 3" that will be very hard to defend.
Greg Smith: C/F, 6-10/250, born 1/8/91, 4th year from Fresno State
There hasn't been a lot of buzz about Smith yet he may be perhaps the biggest possible surprise difference maker in the offseason acquisitions. Smith offers a presence down low that can make the Mavs not solely dependent on Tyson Chandler for rebounds and muscle down at the rim. More of a bruiser than the athletic Brandan Wright, he is a needed good finisher and solid defender.
UNDER CONTRACT, FOR NOW
Ricky Ledo: G, 6-7/200, born 9/10/92, 2nd year from Providence RI
Ledo spent last year bouncing back and forth from the Texas Legends and still remains a very talented work in progress who is mainly lacking experience. He came with the ability to create his own shot and likely just needs more work at the NBA level.
Gal Mekel: G, 6-3/202, born 3/4/88, 2nd year from Israel via Wichita State
Mekel started the season well last year when Devin Harris and Shane Larkin were injured but ended up riding the pine for most of the season. A decent decision maker who needs more experience, he’s unlikely to get it with the current logjam at point guard.
TRAINING CAMP BATTLES
Eric Griffin: F, 6-8/194, born 5/26/90, Rookie from Campbell
After starring for the "Fighting Camels" of Campbell University, Griffin has been playing in Europe while making appearances in the NBA Summer League for the Lakers, Heat and now Mavericks where he showed some hops. Can he do more than dunk and block shots? He’ll need to, along with adding some beef to his frame.
Ivan Johnson: F/C, 6-8/255, born 4/10/84, 3rd year from Cal State-Bernadino
The 30-year old San Antonio native has spent most of his career in Asia and the D-League but put up decent numbers with the Hawks before spending another year in China. His per 36 two year ago in Atlanta was about 16 points and nine rebounds so he’s certainly worth a look.
Doron Lamb: G, 6-4/200, born 11/6/91, 3rd year from Kentucky
A long-range shooter from an elite program, Lamb hasn’t found much floor time but has hit over 40 percent on threes for Orlando two years in a row in limited minutes, mostly from the left corner. Will need to broaden his game or will likely struggle to find time ala Anthony Morrow.
Charlie Villanueva: F, 6-11/232, born 8/24/84, 10th year from Connecticut
Villanueva was a solid player coming into the league but his last three seasons in Detroit saw a number of career lows. While his minutes were down, he also shot less than 40% and last year only 25% from downtown. Villanueva will have to quickly have a major resurgence to make the final roster and even so, it's uncertain how his skillset fits with what the Mavericks need and don’t already have.
Adios: Dominican guard Victor Liz was expected to attend training camp but has opted to resign overseas again.
Willy Makeit / Betty Won't: The Mavericks have 15 players under contract so anyone currently without a guarantee is a long shot to make the team; however with a surplus of talent the Mavs might be looking to stock the Legends or see who is viable trade bait.
Anything can happen.
2014-15 Training Camp Schedule
Monday, Sept. 29: Media Day 1-4 p.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 30: Practice 10—12 p.m. & 4:30 p.m.—6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 1: Practice 10 a.m.—12 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 2: Practice 10—12 p.m. & 4:30—6:30 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 3: Practice 10—12 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 4: Fan Jam 1—3:00 p.m.
Dallas opens the preseason Oct. 7 at home vs. the Houston Rockets and the regular season begins on Oct. 28 with a visit to the San Antonio Spurs.