FanHouse Preview: Dallas Mavericks
It has become popular nowadays to take a movie or idea that was popular 20 years ago and revitalize it, tweaking it for a more modern touch, in order to attract both new and old audiences. It incorporates the base elements of the original and then features a modern "twist" in order to seem "hip."
In a lot of ways, that's the story of the 2009-10 Dallas Mavericks. They're not the same old Mavericks, but they're not the new Mavericks either.
The Mavericks retained their entire rotation from last year, save Ryan Hollins, replaced by Drew Gooden, and the addition of Shawn Marion. Those two additions are meant to radically change the essential makeup of a team that made it to the Western Conference semifinals last season. The problem is that very few people believe that the Mavericks earned that win over the Spurs because San Antonio was melting away thanks to age and injury. Part of that surely had to do with the fact that the Mavs ranked eighth in point differential last season, coming in behind the Jazz and Suns (who didn't even make the playoffs).
So what's the huge change this season? Another year under Rick Carlisle, who has put together an unbelievable resume in the quietest of conditions. A further augmented bench. And the addition of Marion, which on top of providing a more solid overall roster, allows for a more liquid rotation. So far in the offseason, we've heard of Erick Dampier, Dirk Nowitzki, Drew Gooden, and Shawn Marion all spending time at the five spot. Marion's ability to play the three means that Jason Terry can reserve his Sixth Man Award slot, while the Matrix's ability to play the five means Dirk never has to go that route. And that makes Nowitzki happy.
What's going to be the difference maker for the Mavericks this season will be how this team finds its rhythm. As opposed to prior years where the Mavericks have taken too long to discover their chemistry, this year's squad needs come out and figure out who they are on both sides of the ball early. It's OK if that means that Marion is playing more of the role he has with other teams lately, but the Mavericks need to know. It's okay if J.J. Barrea has an off year and can't reliably fill in at the point, but the Mavericks need to know. At some point, you have to wonder how much longer Mark Cuban et al will continue pushing a roster with few positive bright spots.
Last Season By the Numbers
Record: 50-32 under Rick Carlisle. Finished 3rd in the Southwest Division, 6th in the Western Conference. Defeated the Spurs (4-1) in the first round. Eliminated by Nuggets (4-1) in conference semifinals.
Offense: 110.5 points per 100 possessions, 5th in the NBA. 11th in shooting, 3rd in turnover rate, 16th in offensive rebounding, 22nd in free throw rate.
Defense: 108.4 points per 100 possessions, 17th in the NBA. 9th in shooting defense, 25th in opponent turnover rate, 8th in defensive rebounding, 10th in opponent free throw rate.
Top Performers: Dirk Nowitzki led the team with 25.9 points per game. Jason Terry scored 19.6 points, primarily off the bench. In 52 games, Josh Howard averaged 18 points. Nowitzki was also the team's top rebounder at 8.4 rebounds per game, with Erick Dampier following with 7.1 rebounds in 23 minutes. Jason Kidd was the top passer with 8.7 assists per game. Kidd also contributed an average of two steals.
All statistics via Basketball-Reference.com.
Player to Watch
FanHouse's Matt Moore and Tom Ziller preview one player to watch from each team. Here's a snippet of Ziller's post on Mavericks guard Jason Terry.
How Terry produces so efficiently provides an interesting twist. Unlike most guards who push the True Shooting meter to its greatest heights -- like Nash, Chauncey Billups and Kevin Martin -- Terry hasn't been an elite three-point shooter over the past two seasons, nor does he draw fouls at any notable level. Terry is just a murderous shooter on long two-pointers. Terry led the league in two-point jumper shooting last year, hitting 49.2 percent of his myriad attempts from that depth. The so-called "mid-range" shot is death to many offenses, but that's because the wrong players usually take them. That's not the case in Dallas, where Terry and Nowitzki take most of the team's long twos ... and hit them more regularly than most of the league.
See Ziller's full post on Terry.
IN: Shawn Marion (trade), Kris Humphries (trade), Rodrigue Beaubois (draft), Tim Thomas (free agency), Drew Gooden (free agency).
OUT: Jerry Stackhouse (trade), Antoine Wright (trade), Devean George (trade).