2013-14 record: 49-33
Key Additions: Al-Farouq Aminu, Tyson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Eric Griffin, Richard Jefferson, Ivan Johnson, Jameer Nelson, Chandler Parsons, Charlie Villanueva
Key Departures: Jose Calderon, Vince Carter, Samuel Dalembert, Wayne Ellington, Shane Larkin, Shawn Marion
Projected 2014-15 Lineup: PG: Raymond Felton SG Monta Ellis SF Chandler Parsons PF Dirk Nowitzki C Tyson Chandler
When I played NBA Live 1999 as a kid, I wouldn’t want to simulate the season, but I also would get bored playing with the same team every night. The solution was to make as many trades as possible and also sign a heap of random free agents. I’d have roughly 30 different players on the roster throughout the course of the season. Looking at the moves the Mavericks made this year, I’m wondering if pre-Y2K me was in charge.
This is a team that lost three of its five best players, and has added a full roster’s worth of guys. Really, what they did last year doesn’t matter a whole lot. They gave the Spurs more trouble than anyone else, but one game of that involved an incredible three by Carter, who’s going to be in Memphis this season. Losing Marion is going to hurt a lot on both sides of the ball, but especially on defense. And when you have a team that was ranked 22nd in Defensive Rating last year, losing one of the top defenders hurts even worse.
You’ve got a guy regarded as essentially the best teammate ever in Nowitzki, but adding a guy like Villanueva isn’t going to be great for your team being the quiet, unassuming winners. Mark Cuban is supposed to be the loud distraction in Dallas. He’s the one who draws attention, and nothing he does is all that bad. I think Villaneuva is far enough beyond his relevant career, that he probably won’t draw too much attention sitting at the end of the bench. Still, he’s the one addition here that I really don’t like.
The players added from the Knicks are a bit of a mystery. Chandler and Felton are both coming off really poor campaigns, but both have played at all-star or close to all-star level before. Chandler obviously played some of his best ball in Dallas when they won a championship, but he’s been really banged up lately. If he’s able to be healthy and effective, then he’s one of the best interior defenders in the game. But that’s a pretty big if. Ray Felton hasn’t played 70 games in a season since 2010-11, and last year was one of the worst of his career, as he shot an atrocious 31% from downtown. With numbers closer to that 2010-11 season, he’ll solidify himself as starter here, if not, Dallas will be hoping that Nelson can bounce back and play well.
Beyond just the new additions from New York, there’s a lot of uncertainty with this team, which is why I’m not as high on them as some other writers. Jefferson should be solid, but he’s not going to be a difference maker. Chandler Parsons is really good, but is he good enough on defense to make up for the shortcomings that this offense-based lineup is going to have? Can Monta Ellis replicate his stellar play from 2013-14? What the heck is going on with the point guard situation here? Basically the only place where there aren’t any questions is with Dirk.
There’s been rumors of Nowitzki working in the offseason to speed up his release. I really don’t know how that’s possible. He already had just about the fastest release in the game, so the only solution may be that he redirects the ball into the basket with his mind instead of actually touching it. He’s been in the league for 16 years, and he’s as good as ever. Last year he averaged 21.7 and almost broke 50% from the field. He’s likely the best shooter in the game, and if nothing else, he can lead this team to the playoffs. For as many questions as I have about the rest of the team, his presence ensures me that this team will be playing beyond 82 games.
X-Factor: Tyson Chandler
Chandler played in 55 games last year, but he was battered for more than a handful of them. He’s taken a beating throughout his career, and as long as he’s playing that smash mouth defense, that’s not going to change. He still averaged 9.6 rebounds and a block a game last year, so if he’s able to play healthy for an extended bit of time, those numbers should increase. For a team that was 26th in total rebounds last year, a healthy Chandler is paramount to success.
Who Has The Most To Prove: Raymond Felton
I touched on it a bit earlier, but Felton has been super streaky the last few years. He’s got his dedicated fans and others who still won’t get on board with his game if he started averaging 20 and 8. I think he’s got more talent and upside than Jameer Nelson at this point, but if Felton isn’t shooting well, he’s going to find himself falling fast in that rotation. Both Nelson and Devin Harris could play ahead of him and I woudn’t be surprised.
Why They’re Worth Watching:
Offense, offense and more offense. For all the things about appreciated the gritty approach of the Grizzlies, the Mavericks will serve as the exact opposite. They were eighth in points scored last year, and they added Chandler Parsons, who should only help improve that figure. Between his wicked efficiency, Dirk’s pure shooting, and Monta Ellis blowing by defenders, there’ll be little standing in the way of the Mavs and buckets. Plus, there’s always a chance that Cuban is going to get in on a fight.
Best Case: The team stays healthy, Chandler Parsons proves the Lonestar fight over him was worth it, and Tyson Chandler returns to defensive glory. 55 wins.
Worst Case: None of the point guards prove up to the task, Dirk finally starts to show signs of aging, and Charlie Villanueva plays major minutes. 46 wins.
Projected Record: 53-29