With the Mavericks’ offseason more or less officially coming to a close, we continue breaking down the various aspects of what happened with the team this year.
Today, our staff answered this question: What is the team’s biggest strength headed into next season? Here’s what we came up with.
Doyle: I really think this will be one of the best defensive teams the Mavs have ever had. You have Andrew Bogut anchoring the middle and Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews patrolling the perimeter. And Deron Williams can still hold his own defending opposing point guards. What's even better is that all four of those guys are starters. Coming off the bench, Salah Mejri is a born shot blocker and Quincy Acy is a pretty good defender. This could be a top 10 defense in the league if everything goes right.
Ian: Size. There's no exploitable strength/height mismatch in the starting lineup, and at the other end, there may not be another starting lineup where all five members are good enough to deserve more than a token post-up look. Then off the bench will come 7'1 Salah Mejri and human panther Justin Anderson(in support of my point here let's ignore the hobbit who will come of the bench to run 50 pick and rolls a night). As the league goes small, Dallas will be one of a handful of teams that is still playing big, and in theory this should help them be the most effective defensive squad Carlisle has employed since the 2011-12 season, which was Jason Kidd's last in Dallas.
Kirk: Defense. Bogut is a solid upgrade. Wes Matthews will play hard defense till the day he dies. As much as I don't like the Harrison Barnes signing, he's a defensive upgrade over Chandler Parsons and can effectively guard both the three position and many of the modern NBA four men. Dirk Nowitzki and Deron will continue to give the Mavericks some defensive problems, but with a solid scheme, the Mavericks could be looking at a top 10 defensive team.
J.C.: Flexibility. This team should be able to place above average in both offense and defense this year, which is better than most can say, and they can roll out dominant offensive lineups with great floor spacing or strong defensive lineups to make the game a slog. Think Curry-Williams-Matthews-Barnes-Nowitzki to juice the scoring and Harris-Matthews-Anderson-Barnes-Bogut to drag the game into the mud, not to mention everything in between. I'm most excited to see how a Williams-Matthews-Anderson-Barnes-Dirk lineup plays.
Josh: It has to be defense. The Mavericks starting five has the potential the one of the best defensive units in the Dirk era, boasting an elite defensive center (Bogut), a potential defensive stopper (Barnes), an elite defensive wing (Matthews) and an average to above average defender for his position (Williams, who really surprised me with his defense last year). Even with Dirk, the Mavs starting five has four players who could all be well above average on defense for their position.
Combine that with more minutes for good defensive players in Justin Anderson and Salah Mejri and it's not hard to see how defense can be what the Mavs rely on as they figure out an offense with Barnes in a great role.
Tim: Is this the best defensive team since 2011? It probably is. It lacks a wing defender as stout and versatile as Shawn Marion, and I’d take Tyson Chandler that year over most centers, 2016 Bogut included. But with Anderson and Mejri off the bench in addition to a really solid starting five, Dirk excluded, I’m very interested in seeing how high up the rankings this defense can climb.
You also must consider Rick Carlisle, who has a magical touch when helping bring players together into a cohesive team. And shoutout to Melvin Hunt, the team’s defensive coordinator who will likely be getting calls to be a head coach in the next few years (or hell, maybe next year).