Dallas Mavericks Season Preview: New Faces

Team Capsule 

After getting swept by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the playoffs last season, it was clear to both the Mavericks and everyone else that they needed something new, possibly another star player. Last year was largely looked at as a holdover year, as they didn’t resign center Tyson Chandler in an effort to have enough cap space to acquire Deron Williams and/or Dwight Howard. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t get either. However, they did have a sneaky good off season, signing guys like Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo to help inject some much needed youth and energy to this team.

Dirk Nowitzki has recently undergone arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, and while originally prognosticated to be out for six weeks, it is actually closer to three weeks according to  http://espn.go.com/dallas/nba/story/_/id/8535277/sources-dallas-mavericks-hope-dirk-nowitzki-return-closer-3-weeks-surgery. Dirk’s health will be critical to this teams success. In what looks like will be a tough race for a playoff spot in the west, the difference between Dirk missing only two weeks of the regular season as opposed to five, is huge.

Biggest Strength: Dirk

Although usually I would try and come up with this part of the preview using a statistical analysis of what the team as a whole does well, this one was different. Dirk has a very high usage rate (29.2%), and that should only go up with the loss of Jason Terry to the Celtics. The offense flows through him and falls upon the shoulders of his big German frame. He is the difference between this team making the playoffs or getting a possible top five draft pick.

Biggest Weakness: Offense

They finished last year 20th in offensive efficiency, 22nd in Offensive Rating, and were just average shooting the ball (15th in TS%). With only a few legit scoring options on the team last year, the offense often times struggled to create points and thus created the inefficiency.

Player to Watch: Dirk Nowitzki

I have talked a lot about Dirk in this article, including how his health will determine the Mavs’ season. It will be interesting to see how he returns from surgery.

2011-12 Record: 36-30

Coach: Rick Carlisle

Key Additions: O.J. Mayo, Darren Collison, Elton Brand, Chris Kaman, Jae Crowder

Mayo is a solid pickup for the Mavs because he can shoot and brings athleticism and youth to the team. Even though he only shot 40.8% from the floor last year, he is a solid three point shooter hitting in the upper 30%s for his career. Darren Collison replaces veteran point guard Jason Kidd, who signed with the Knicks this off season, and brings okay play-making and solid shooting to the table. Elton is a veteran big who will be used off the bench, not so much an offensive player anymore, but still the best defensive big on the team. Chris Kaman will start next to Dirk this year creating a really white good offensive front court. Kaman is a good scoring option out of the post. Jae Crowder is a rookie SF that plays like the energizer bunny with a three point shot. He is expected to see okay playing time this year. (@Ian_Segovia) compared him to a more sane Metta World Peace, so there’s that.

Key Subtractions: Jason Terry, Jason Kidd, Ian Mahinmi, Lamar Odom(?)

The Celtics signed the former 6th man of the year to a multi year deal that will take away a big part of the Mavs’ offense. JET did so many things for them, including providing a lot of fourth quarter scoring. He was one of their only offensive creators last year aside from Dirk, so it will be interesting to see if O.J. Mayo can provide that sort of play. Jason Kidd is both declining and aging fast so him leaving isn’t really all that big of a deal, especially with the signing of Darren Collison. Ian Mahinmi was a backup big that provided good defense off the bench, but was replaced with Elton Brand. I threw Lamar in there for his name only, as he was terrible last year.

Team Trajectory: Flat 

With so many new faces, and it being unclear how they will mesh and how Dirk returns from injury, we really don’t know if they will improve or decline, so how about some place in the middle. 

Projected Record: 44-38

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