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's the most and the least number of games you could reasonably see this team winning, assuming the team has average health throughout the year? ESPN has their own predictions, but here’s what our staff who watches the team day in and day out, came up with.
Doyle: If they are healthy and the defense is as good as I think it can be then I don't see why the Mavs can't win 50 games. Rick has done more with less. At the worst, they win 43 games. I'm pretty sure every team in the Western Conference will have to win 45 games to get into the playoffs next season. I think the Mavericks notch a playoff spot if everything goes right.
Ian: Well, it's another year where health is going to play a vital role in how things shake out. Bogut and D-Will are going to be major question marks as it pertains to availability, probably for the rest of their careers. Dirk is at an age where wear and tear can take their toll. Wesley Matthews is still working against the long list of guys ruined by a bad Achilles. If they avoid the injury bug for the most part, and see development from the younger players, then I could see the ceiling on this team being around 47-48 wins. If things go bad, though -- especially if some combination of Bogut, Dirk and Williams miss a chunk of time -- this could get very ugly. I trust Carlisle's wizardry enough to think they won't win fewer than 35 or 36, but that's the low end of a realistic spectrum, I think.
Kirk: By this point I've learned not to doubt Rick Carlisle, so at the high end I could see them winning 50 games. At the low end, they will win as few as 38. The problem the Mavericks face is that the West's bottom half improved a heck of a lot more than the Mavericks did. Utah is going to be good. The Rockets are going to score 130 points a night. The Grizzlies improved a ton. The Nuggets are going to be an obnoxious regular season team. The young Timberwolves are going to surprise fans who don't pay attention. The Thunder are going to drop back some but still wreak havoc. There's simply a lot that has to shake out on the back end. If the Mavs are healthy, a 6-7-8 seed makes sense, but I also wouldn't be shocked to see if this was the year the luck runs out.
J.C.: It's tough to project the downside. A Dirk injury, Bogut's inevitable stretch of games missed, Williams' recent fragility...scenarios where this team ends up with a pick in the front half of the lottery. I'll say the least number I could see a Rick Carlisle-coached team win with decent talent and depth is probably 30. On the other hand, there's a path to 50 wins here if guys develop in just the right ways. Oklahoma City is worse, Portland didn't make any real shakeups, Memphis is yet another year older, the Clippers are a Chris Paul injury away from obsolescence, the Rockets are demonstrably worse... After Golden State and San Antonio there's a lot of room in the West. I think the likeliest outcome is right around 43 wins.
Josh: If everything breaks right, I wouldn't be completely shocked to see the Mavs right at 50 wins. The 2015 team did it with a moody Monta Ellis, broken Rajon Rondo, half-a-season of meh Jameer Nelson and half-a-season of zero bench. There's some good talent on this team.
If everything breaks wrong, 39 wins or fewer isn't out of the question. This team still completely revolves around the health and production of Dirk Nowitzki, so any injury or drop off will tank the team much like 2013. That combined with the rising teams near the lower-tier of the Western Conference could make it a tough season even if things do go well.
Tim: The problem with "average" health for this team is that the Mavericks will still have injury problems. Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut are the two obvious candidates to miss time, and yesterday, I said Williams was as indispensable to this team as any player outside of Dirk.
At best, I see the Mavericks winning 46 or 47 games. At worst, it's about 35 or 36. I've got them at 43 or 44 wins headed into the year, at this very early out juncture. I'd like to think that nets them a playoff berth, but it's too early to guarantee it. Either way, this team should be in playoff contention into April.