The Mavericks have now played their way through the preseason schedule, with a solid record of 4-2 after a 111-96 loss in Charlotte. Harrison Barnes led the team with 24 points (8/9 from the free throw line, hopefully more to come). Dennis Smith Jr. had plenty of friends and family in the crowd, playing near home, and matched up opposite Kemba Walker with a quality 10 points and 9 assists, a night after exiting early with a tweaked ankle.
Here at Mavs Moneyball we’ve spent a decent amount of time talking about how this team feels much different than recent years, and these six games have been a testament to that.
Here are some takeaways from tonight’s game:
Rick Carlisle has set his rotation
Wizard Rick Carlisle, Master of the Two-Man Realm, loves to tinker all season long, as he exploits in-game matchups and rides the hot hand. But this preseason, when all healthy players have been available, he’s been pretty decisive with the guys he’s rolling with. Especially currently with Seth Curry out with an injury, the ten-man core feels pretty set -
- Dennis Smith Jr.
- Yogi Ferrell
- Wesley Matthews
- Harrison Barnes
- Dirk Nowitzki
- J.J. Barea
- Devin Harris
- Dorian Finney-Smith
- Dwight Powell
- Nerlens Noel
Health will always play a factor, and once Seth Curry returns Carlisle will go back to tinkering and making adjustments. But for now, these are the primary players he’s riding with. That sort of stability is only going to help the young players on the team.
This team is committed to playing faster
Since winning the title the Mavericks front office filled the roster with a lot of vets that forced them to play at a nursing home pace. And during that span all the league has done is get faster and more athletic. The acquisition of guys like Harrison Barnes, Yogi Ferrell, Nerlens Noel, Seth Curry, and now Dennis Smith Jr. means the team is finally at a place where they can push the ball up the floor.
Added to that, veterans Matthews, Barea and Harris all appear to be in really solid shape and seem more athletic than recent seasons.
Recently the Mavericks and ESPN broke news that they would be looking to change their name in China, because the current translation of Mavericks (“small cow”) didn’t offer much excitement or represent the team. So...what’s the translation for Really Fast Small Cow?
Show up for the slams, stay for the composure
It’s been fun getting these six games of Dennis Smith Jr. playing with the core Mavericks. The internet has been pretty focused on his pregame dunks and insane athleticism all summer. And it’s true, there are few players with his raw ability to literally jump from the AAC to the moon.
But what has struck me in these six games is how mature and composed he has been. He’s made his fair share of mistakes already - but often he immediately follows it with a great effort play on the other end. DSJ looks to make the smart play, the smart pass, before trying to make #SCtop10.
If he continues down that path, he will soon separate himself from the other young superstar hopefuls.
The core of the team got a lot of run tonight, so any player looking to make a final statement to make the squad needed to do it last night. The roster doesn’t need to be finalized til Monday, so expect news over the weekend as the front office makes their final moves.
This preseason has been a decent preview of what’s to come in the next 82 - playing well against bottom dwellers, and playing a lot of quality teams close. The Mavericks may have to work hard for their wins, but there’s no doubt this will be an exciting squad!