Without question, Dirk Nowitzki has been the best player on the Dallas Mavericks for the majority of his career. Only twice since the 2000-2001 season has Dirk not been the Mavs leading scorer. Monta Ellis held that title in 2014-2015, and Harrison Barnes in 2016-2017. And although Monta led the Mavs in scoring that one year, the case could've been made that Dirk was still the better player on that team.
With all that in mind, the staff was asked:
Who do you think will be the Mavs leading scorer in the 2017-2018 campaign? And if not the same player, who will be the most valuable to the team?
Harrison Barnes should remain the leading scorer on the team, though I'm skeptical as to his effectiveness if he plays less power forward than last season. Barnes' uptick in statistics was largely the result of volume. He was a fantastic mid-range player but didn't get to the line much or shoot threes very well. But with the Maverick offense, his combination of youth and experience, he should get the most opportunities this season.
Dirk will remain the MVP. His gravity is the driving force in the Maverick offense, exacerbated by the spacing in Carlisle's offense. It's still funny to see Dirk left wide open after all these years, but it happens an alarming amount nonetheless.
I think it will be between Harrison Barnes and Dennis Smith Jr. Barnes proved that he can average almost 20 points per game last season and he should likely carry a similar load next season. However, that could change depending on how much usage he cedes to Smith Jr. If Smith Jr. is a starter, as Rick Carlisle suggested on draft night, then he could be the focal point of the offense with other players falling into place behind him.
Dirk is still the MVP. He makes the entire system work.
I feel confident saying that Harrison Barnes will lead the Mavs in scoring again this season, and I think he'll average around 23 ppg. I don't necessarily think he'll take more shots, but I do think he'll be more aggressive and get to the free throw line a lot more than he's accustomed to (2.4 FTA per game for his career). I also hope we get to see a lot more of this too.
Harrison Barnes will be the team's MVP this year as well as their leading scorer. Dirk will always be Dirk, but Father Time is undefeated, and history tells us that he's probably in for another decline (even if only a slight one) this season. Overall, I think Barnes and the Mavs will have a lot more scoring help this year with early ROY candidate, Dennis Smith Jr. and "Contract Year" Seth Curry.
It's gotta be Harrison Barnes leading the scoring this season, Dirk averaged 14 points in the 2016-2017 campaign and we should probably see something similar to that moving forward to this year. One thing which will determine HB's scoring efficiency this season will be how he goes moving to the small forward spot (assuming Dirk plays at the four and Noel at the five). He played his best last season while playing power forward, but I think he will still be able to put up the most points on the team even if he has to adjust slightly. I suspect we will see him in the low 20-point range.
For the MVP of the team i'm going to with Nerlens Noel. I believe he has game-changing ability and I really hope we see that in full display this season. He will determine whether or not the Mavs have a considerably important building block for the future and if he does or even starts to do what I think he can, Dallas will be in good shape. Dirk & Barnes will be Dirk & Barnes, but Noel can be an x-factor like the Mavs haven't seen in some time.
The default answer to part one is Harrison Barnes. While the Mavs continue to rebuild he looks to be a focal point of half court offense. And outside of maybe Wesley Matthews, he looks to log the most minutes. So he should lead the team in points. As the Mavericks develop and discover more weapons Barnes will hopefully be relied upon less, and that's why I don't see his numbers growing - the only way that happens is if he learns how to draw fouls.
Dirk is the core of this franchise, and while he continues to put on the jersey, he is the mvp. But I'm going to throw another name out there: Seth Curry. Midseason last year Curry became a clutch performer night in and night out for the Mavs. As I wrote in July, he has the potential to be used as JET was in his sixth man days, and become the emotional heart of the offense. The thing to watch with his role in Dallas is whether he gets to close out games or not. If Carlisle opts to use the assumed starting five, Curry is the odd man out. But if Seth Curry continues to display his efficient clutch shooting, Carlisle will have to find ways to put him on the floor. And he could quietly become the MVP of this team, in a very important contract season.
Harrison Barnes will be the Mavericks' leading scorer once again this year, and I'll take it a step further: He'll average two more points a game next year. There were a lot of good things Barnes did Year 1 in Dallas. He's going to get better the more he finds spots on the floor and take advantage of mismatches. And it'll also help him attacking the basket every now and then and prepare to dunk on some fools' heads. I don't think he's reached his peak yet. He's going to get better.
Dirk is also the MVP, there's no question about it. He will be the MVP forever. Because he's Dirk. That's the only reason.
Even if Barnes offers no improvement on his game from a year ago, he should still lead the team in scoring. His shot attempts took a bit of a tumble when Dirk returned to full health, but Dirk should sit out enough games for Barnes to pad his point totals. It's tough to assume Barnes will make another leap like he did from from his last year in Golden State to his first year in Dallas, so I'm not sure if his free throw attempts will increase like we hope. Playing more small forward though should keep his legs fresher which might give him in uptick in his three-point shooting. Barnes is the safe bet.
Team MVP will be Dirk until he says it isn't. Even as his shooting numbers decline as he gets older, the respect Dirk commands when he's on the floor stretches defenses to their limit and prop up the value and production of anyone Dirk shares the court with. Despite Barnes' surprisingly good season, the Mavs didn't stop looking like a burning dumpster until Dirk came back into the lineup permanently in late December. No one else on the Mavs roster has that kind of swing. Dirk is still extremely important to everything the Mavs want and can do.