This decade the Mavs managed to roll out a different starting five each season — a product of their reliance each and every season on an ever-revolving door of free agents since 2011.
Remember Delonte West? O.J. Mayo? Chris Kaman? These guys served as a majority starters for a team that can never seem to attract top-tier free agents. So let’s take a look back and break down each and every starting five from this decade,* and how they stack up against one another.
*As we know, Rick loves to start multiple different fives a season, so this will look at the five that started the most games in a season together
I broke down these rankings by looking at three different categories:
- Performance (Did they win games?)
- Consistency (How often did this five actually start games together?)
- Likability (How fun was it to root for this group?)
#9: 2012/2013 D. Collison · O. Mayo · S. Marion · D. Nowitzki · C. Kaman
- Games Started - 12
- Wins - 6
- Losses - 6
- Likability - 6/10
The 2012-2013 season was an odd one that saw the Mavericks start 23 different lineups. This combo led with only 12 games started together. This group underwhelmed and lacked much personality as the season went on, until the beards came about. True MFFLs remember the boys in blue with thick beards, symbolizing their pact to reach .500. As it made a non-playoff year eventful, it still fell flat in comparison to the rest of the decade as performance was just not up to par. After the season the Mavs replaced three of their starters (Collison, Mayo and Kaman) and moved forward. A season that will mostly be remembered as a wash, this lineup was quickly forgotten by Maverick fans everywhere.
#8: 2017/2018 D. Smith · W. Matthews · H. Barnes · D. Nowitzki · M. Kleber
- Games Started - 28
- Wins - 12
- Losses - 16
- Likability - 6/10
The 2017-2018 season was one of experiment and youth. Dennis Smith Jr. brought promise and excitement into the AAC, but ultimately performance hindered their progress. Rick rolled out 24 different starting lineups, as a majority of fans looked forward to the future and the development of their high flying young rookie point guard. The emergence of Maxi Kleber was a highlight for the season as he eventually slid into the starting center role as the season progressed. Ultimately, this would become the final season that Dirk Nowitzki would be a full-time starter.
#7: 2018/2019 D. Smith · W. Matthews · L. Doncic · H. Barnes · D. Jordan
- Games Started - 21
- Wins - 9
- Losses - 12
- Likability - 7/10
This most recent season saw the Mavs start their most talented five in recent history. The lineup seemed to be set up for success after finally grabbing their rim running center in DeAndre Jordan, and trading up for the rookie sensation Luka Doncic. As the season progressed again the level of play seemed to fall flat. All four starters outside of Doncic had disappointing seasons, and the playoffs quickly became out of reach. Halfway through the year the Mavs had traded all four to grab two young pieces in Kristaps Porzingis and Justin Jackson, building a core for the future. While the season failed to meet expectations and continuously watching Jordan not play defense was tough, the introduction of Luka to Dallas and the world was more than fans could ask for.
#6: 2016/2017 Y. Ferrell · S. Curry · W. Matthews · H. Barnes · D. Nowitzki
- Games Started - 18
- Wins - 11
- Losses - 7
- Likability - 7/10
In 2016 the Mavericks started 26 different lineups, again lacking a consistent starting five. While fans saw Deron Williams start at point guard to start the season, it was the electric guard combo of Seth Curry and Yogi Ferrell that eventually started the majority of games together. In a season that only saw the Mavs win 33 games, this lineup found lightning in a bottle behind the two new guards winning 11 of 18. Seth Curry found his place as he attempted to show the NBA world that there are two NBA caliber Curry brothers out there. At the same time, undrafted rookie Yogi Ferrell unleashed “Yogi-mania” and found himself on the All-Rookie Second Team at years’ end.
#5: 2015/2016 D. Williams · W. Matthews · C. Parsons · D. Nowitzki · Z. Pachulia
- Games Started - 36
- Wins - 17
- Losses - 19
- Likability - 6.5/10
Another season crippled by free agency decisions saw the Mavericks start Zaza Pachulia at center after DeAndre Jordan infamously changed his mind and re-signed with the Los Angeles Clippers. However the acquisitions of two quality starters in Deron Williams and Wesley Matthews to join Dirk and Chandler Parsons was enough to lead this team to the playoffs. Although a first round exit was ultimately the result, the fight in this team was undeniable. This team will be remembered for Zaza’s near all-star berth and being the last group to take the Mavericks to the playoffs.
#4: 2011/2012 J. Kidd · D. West · S. Marion · D. Nowitzki · B. Haywood
- Games Started - 17
- Wins - 9
- Losses - 8
- Likability - 8/10
The year after the championship was an odd one. In a shortened season due to lockout, Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion and, of course Dirk Nowitzki returned to their starting roles. However, after controversially letting Tyson Chandler walk in the attempt to pursue a big fish, Brendan Haywood stepped into the starting center role. The Mavs found a gem in Delonte West halfway through the season and started him 33 times, but even West wasn’t enough to avoid the championship hangover. Chandler won DPOY in New York adding more salt to the wound, and Dallas would eventually get swept in the playoffs to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
#3: 2014/2015 (J. Nelson/R. Rondo) · M. Ellis · C. Parsons · D. Nowitzki · T. Chandler
- Games Started - 31
- Wins - 17
- Losses - 14
- Likability - 8/10 -> 4/10 (Rondo Effect)
The 2014/2015 season was an interesting one. With an unbelievable start, the Mavs had the league’s best offense and started the season 15-5. Two scoring threats in Parsons and Ellis, and a perfect front-court combination of Nowitzki and Chandler. The Mavs were rolling. Then, after trading for Rajon Rondo, the Mavericks were one of the favorites to win the Finals. However, Rondo quickly destroyed the chemistry that was built to start the year and performance began to dip with it. This group had so much talent and promise, but the destruction that came from within caused the season to be thrown away. You can’t help but ask “what if?” when it comes to the 2014-2015 Mavericks.
#2: 2013/2014 J. Calderon · M. Ellis · S. Marion · D. Nowitzki · S. Dalembert
- Games Started - 61
- Wins - 38
- Losses -23
- Likability - 9.5/10
The 2013-2014 Mavericks are one of my personal favorite rosters. The team lacked the talent of previous rosters, but the chemistry on the court was absolutely electrifying. The by-far most consistent starting five of the past decade saw Jose Calderon starting next to Monta Ellis. Ellis became a fan favorite with his electric pick and roll with Dirk Nowitzki. Even Samuel Dalembert had an infectious personality. The team eventually went on to take the soon-to-be NBA champion San Antonio Spurs to seven games in an unforgettable series.
#1: 2010/2011 J. Kidd · D. Stevenson · C. Butler · D. Nowitzki · T. Chandler
- Games Started - 20
- Wins - 17
- Losses - 3
- Likability - 11/10
Of course. The 2010-2011 Mavs won the NBA Finals and although Caron Butler’s future injury would cause this five to change in the playoffs, this team was undeniably great. A 17-3 record for this group set up the Mavs with a third seed in the playoffs that would eventually lead them through the likes of Portland, Los Angeles, Oklahoma City and Miami. In those playoffs, Mavs replaced Butler with fan-favorite Shawn Marion. Tyson Chandler was the anchor of the defense and the close knit relationship between him and Dirk was special to watch. DeShawn Stevenson was a dog, hungry to guard the best offensive player on the other team and hit a corner three on the other end. This was the last true starting five of the Mavs that performed at an incredibly high level.
Nine different starting lineups in nine years. Though many of the teams have been good or had potential, Dallas over the years has lacked a consistency that is necessary to perform at a high level in the NBA. With two young cornerstones and key role players signed for the next few years, the organization hopes to begin to build that chemistry and identity to finally close the revolving door of the 2010s.
Which Mavs’ starting five was your favorite?
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