Expectations may not be very high for the Dallas Mavericks, but Grantland's Zach Lowe ranks them in the top half of the league in watchability in his annual League Pass Rankings. Lowe slots the Mavericks at No. 13 and says that while it may be a tough season in Dallas, the Dirk Nowitzki- Rick Carlisle combination is still worth your time.
Any Dirk Nowitzki-Rick Carlisle team brings a fluid read-and-react system rippling outward from the greatest shooting big man to walk the earth. Dirk's one-legged turnaround is still the prettiest shot in basketball, especially when the ball pauses to caress the glass and then slides straight down through the net. But Dirk is on an old man's minutes limit, the stud wing players are coming off massive injuries, and the Mavs don't have the rim-running center that sets all the drive-and-kick goodness in motion. Jeremy Evans is probably the best pick-and-roll diver on the team, and he's had an intriguing preseason. Justin Anderson is promising. Samuel Dalembert might need one of those bacon-frying alarm clocks that failed on Shark Tank. Zaza Pachulia's high-post passing is splendid.