Mavericks in tough for playoffs
For the second consecutive offseason, the Dallas Mavericks had high hopes and plenty of cash for a star in the free-agent class.
(The Sports Network) For the second consecutive offseason, the Dallas Mavericks walked away disappointed.
Last year, Deron Williams spurned the Mavs in favor of staying with the Brooklyn Nets. This summer, Dwight Howard headed to Texas alright, but signed with the Houston Rockets.
To be clear, the Mavs made plenty of moves. They just didn't land the big fish.
Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis represent the new backcourt, replacing O.J. Mayo and a revolving door of underachieving, or declining veterans. Instead of Howard, Dallas brought in Samuel Dalembert, a decent shot-blocker and rebounder.
The bench was revitalized with the returning Devin Harris, the inconsistent Wayne Ellington, a slew of draft picks and some flyers on some youngsters with potential.
Who's In/Who's Out
Key Additions: Jose Calderon, Monta Ellis, Samuel Dalembert, Wayne Ellington, Shane Larkin, DeJuan Blair, Devin Harris, Ricky Ledo, Gal Mekel.
Key Losses: Darren Collison, Elton Brand, Roddy Beaubois, Chris Kaman, Mike James, O.J. Mayo, Jared Cunningham, Anthony Morrow
Despite missing out on the big prizes, the Mavericks did a solid job of bringing in talent and filling soime holes in free agency.
Monta Ellis, while maddening at times, can flat out score the ball and his shot selection has actually improved in the last couple of seasons.
The Best in the West?
Rocketing Up the Standings
Fighting For A High Seed
Up and Coming
Jose Calderon is a pro's pro at the point guard spot and will be both a good facilitator for the offence but also an excellent mentor for the younger players on the team.
Dalembert also can still have an impact in the paint.
Thie biggest thing the Mavericks should have going for them though this season is a healthy Dirk Nowitzki. Nowitzki's knees never really let him get going last season but he looks to be rejuvenated this year and should be able to carry a bigger chunk of the offensive load.
Fellow aging stars Shawn Marion and Vince Carter also still have some gas in the tank and should keep the Mavericks competitive.
The Not So Good
The Mavericks window to compete for titles is closed.
Nowitzki's knee injury last season sent the Mavericks in a downward spiral from the beginning. His 17.3 ppg was the lowest season average since his second in the league back in 1999-2000. The 7-footer is still a lethal force on the floor with his range and proficiency.
A bounce-back season is in store for Nowitzki, but his days as a one-man championship contender are over. And unfortunately for the Mavericks that means they aren't contenders either. The West is just too good.
They will likely be good enough though to avoid landing a high lottery pick, which might actually be exactly what they need.
What To Expect
The Mavericks missed the playoffs last season, but gave it a valiant effort.
This season should bring much of the same. Dallas will be on the fringe of the postseason through much of the campaign. If everything goes well, Dallas could punch one of the last two tickets to the playoffs in the Western Conference.
If things don't, and some of these personalities clash, it's lottery city for Dallas.
But, Carlisle, Nowitzki and the Mavericks have one clear goal in mind.
"Our mission this year is to get back to winning in the playoffs," the coach said during media day. "That's our mission. You know, the goal is always going to be win a championship, but getting to the playoffs and winning puts you in the top eight and then anything can happen there, so that's what our mission is.
"And we know that there aren't a lot of people that think we're capable of doing that, so our self belief has got to be there. I've got to point these guys in a direction that they understand what the path is going to be, how we can get there and what there particular job is going to be in that structure, and it's going to come down to how we defend and how we perform in close games."
Hunch is that Dallas comes up a little short of the postseason. The Mavs are a decent squad, but there too many teams that are just simply better in the Western Conference.