In advance of training camps beginning sooner than we think, Sports Illustrated has begun its annual exercise of ranking the top 100 players in the NBA. As they released 100-51 over the past couple days, the Mavericks have three of their presumptive starting five represented thus far.
Wes Matthews checks in at 99, after being at 72 last year. Here's what SI had to say:
There are plenty of good reasons that the Mavericks defied conventional wisdom by making perhaps the off-season's boldest bet on Wesley Matthews: his work ethic is beyond reproach, he's a natural locker room leader, he perfectly fits the coveted high-volume 3-and-D prototype, and he has meaningful playoff experience under his belt as he approaches what should be his prime years. There's a chance that Dallas gets its money's worth over the course of Matthews's four-year, $70 million contract, but it will require the 6'5'' shooting guard to fully recover from an Achilles tear he suffered in March ... quickly.
We've speculated recently about whether Matthews may be ready for the season, and if he can defy conventional wisdom and recover quickly, the Mavs will certainly have a better shot at being a playoff team.
The newly appointed Mavericks point guard Deron Williams is ranked 83 after being at 45 last year. SI's take:
Williams's statistical slide has been so steep that he should probably wear a parachute at all times just to be safe: After averaging 21 points and 8.7 assists in 2011-12 to secure a five-year, $98 million contract, Williams managed just 13 points and 6.6 assists in 2014-15 as he missed 10-plus games for the second straight year due to ongoing injuries. His notoriously surly demeanor didn't exactly help soften the blow caused by the degradation of his skills, and Brooklyn GM Billy King eventually agreed to pay Williams a $27-plus million buyout just to go away. This was a pure money-saving dump. The Nets don't have a future franchise point guard on their roster waiting to step into Williams's spot.
Finally, Chandler Parsons is at 66 after clocking in at 56 last year. What SI had to say:
Every ranking on this list relies on projection, though none more so than the case of players returning from injury. Parsons's standing is especially fickle; not only are there the usual questions as to when he might return to full form, but as of now there hasn't even been public confirmation as to what kind of knee surgery ended his 2014-15 season. Most indications of his progress, too, have come from Parsons himself—the party in all this most likely to be swayed by optimism.
This year's Dallas Mavericks are going to be nothing if not interesting. We've speculated about whether Matthews and Parsons might return by the beginning of the season, whether DWill could return to the form that made him a Mavs prize free agent chase a few years ago, etc. SI has the same questions we do, and only time will tell.
Look for numbers 50-1 in the coming days, where we expect the Big German himself, Dirk Nowitzki, to make an appearance.