Our NBA 2015-16 Team Previews continues with Houston Rockets and their Southwest Division opponents. Next up the Dallas Mavericks:
Record: (50-32) 7th in the Western Conference, 4th in Southwest Division, Lost in first round of playoffs to Houston Rockets
Rank: Offense: 107.2 (5) Defense: 103.7 (18) Differential/Net: plus +3.5 (8) Pace: 97.4 (9)
- *Mavericks had the biggest drop offensively post All-Star Break . After leading the Association in offense prior to the All-Star Game they dropped by 9.0 points on offense. The regression began in December coinciding with the Rajon Rondo trade; his inability to shoot well, get to the line or space the floor significantly hurt Dallas. As a team post trade Dallas shot fewer free throws, 3-pointers, shot worse from the field, committed more turnovers and grabbed fewer offensive rebounds.
- The loss of Monta Ellis will hurt on offense as he had the 8th most field goals made (602), 19th most points per game (18.9) and 5th most field goal attempts (1,354) in the Association as per NBA Stats. In addition Ellis created 55% of the half court opportunities for the squad which will primarily have to be made up for by Matthews, Barea and Williams.
- As much as the Mavericks will need to replace the offense lost via Ellis’ departure they’ll also suffer on defense with their best two defenders (Al-Farouq Aminu and Tyson Chandler) also departing.
- Two records will be broken this season as Dirk Nowitzki needs only 478 points to pass Shaquille O’Neal for 6th on the NBA all-time scoring list while head coach Rick Carlisle needs 2 more wins to pass Donny Nelson for All Time Wins for a Mavericks Head Coach.
*per John Schuhmann of nba.com
Off Season Moves
Key Areas Needing Addressing:
- Front Court Replacements
- Defensive Minded Players
- 2-way Players
Player Additions/Players Re-Signed:
- Wesley Matthews – 4 years, $70M
- Jeremy Evans – 2 years, veteran’s minimum
- J.J. Barea – 2 years, $6M
- Charlie Villanueva – 1 year, veteran’s minimum
- Raymond Felton opted in
- Samuel Dalembert – 1 year, veteran’s minimum
- John Jenkins – no terms disclosed
- JaVale McGee – 2 years, veteran’s minimum
- Salah Mejri – no terms disclosed
- Maurice Ndour– no terms disclosed
- Deron Williams – 2 years, $10M
- Zaza Pachulia
Rising Star: Dwight Powell has shown consistent and steady growth through his rookie campaign and worked hard in the off season to progress his game. Expect Powell to make huge leaps in every stat category this season starting with the amount of playing time he’ll receive. With the exit of so many players from last season and lack of depth at power forward coupled with the need to reduce Dirk’s minutes to keep him rested and healthy odds are Powell will be the main benefactor.
On The Bubble: Deron Williams and JaVale McGee are both players who’ve under achieved the past few seasons. The hope was with Williams coming home he’d return to the type of player he was in Utah, but I’m not convinced he’s motivated to win. He isn’t off to a great start either nursing a calf injury which points to his past 4 seasons of leg related malaise.
As for McGee what looked like it would be a promising career has been saddled by constant injury. If he can turn things around to get on the court and show he’s learned how to think on court perhaps he’ll do more than just end up on Shaq’tin a Fool. If any coach could get the best of these players it’s Rick Carlisle who ranks just behind Pops in my book as top coaches in the Association.
X-Factor: Justin Anderson is a player I really liked in the draft and was surprised he fell to 21st in the first round. He is the type of player who head coach Rick Carlisle will love. By year end I won’t be surprised if he’s getting solid minutes and a strong part of the Mavericks rotation.
Proving his commitment to the game between his second and third seasons at Virgina he worked on his 3-point shot improving it from 29.4% to 45.2%. In fact he improved all his shooting categories while also filling up intangibles on the stat sheet. As much as J.J. Barea is the obvious choice here the reality is the Mavericks will need someone else to become an x-factor if they want to compete for a playoff seed.
Best Case: Don’t be surprised if the first trade of the season involves Dallas, but the problem is who exactly are they willing to give up? The team in it’s current structure is heavily guard based, so a trade would have to involve someone like a Barea or Devin Harris to gain a front court talent.
Unless the Mavericks are in the fight for a playoff spot they might want to tank as the only way they get to keep their first round pick this season is if they finish in the bottom seven (they traded their first round pick for Rondo however it’s top 7 protected). I wouldn’t bet against Carlisle being able to milk something out of his players, but they have such a mish mash of uncertainty on their bench it feels like they’ll be lucky to even be in the conversation for the 8th seed.
Worst Case: After the summer Dallas had and the massive shaft delivered from DeAndre Jordan and the Clippers they were lucky to get some type of front court presence at all. Whether you are a Mavericks fan or not you have to feel bad for Nowitzki who has always been a team first guy. Still, it feels like the absolute worst thing that could happen to the Mavericks is they contend for a playoff seed and then end up failing late falling into the lottery and get the 8th pick meaning they lose it to Boston.
Prediction: As much as you know Mark Cuban won’t roll over and die and Rick Carlisle won’t allow his team to quit there just isn’t enough depth on the bench even if you add up all the “what if’s” of every player having a career setting season. Without a miracle trade they’ll miss the playoffs and again unless they finish in the bottom 7 they’ll also lose their first round pick. The good news is if they know before the trade deadline they’ll be out of it they can trade away some help to playoff bound teams in order to gain a draft pick(s).
Games versus the Houston Rockets
- November 14th: At Toyota Center in Houston
- December 4th: At American Airlines Arena in Dallas
- January 24th: At Toyota Center in Houston
- April 6th: At American Airlines Arena in Dallas
Of note, the other must watch Mavericks game occurs on Remembrance Day (how appropriate) when DeAndre Jordan and his emoji loving Clippers come to Dallas for their first visit of the season.
Fansided Affiliate Site: The Smoking Cuban
Make sure you catch up on our entire Team Preview Series, our Houston Rockets Player Profile Series as well as our SCS Round Table Sessions to help you get through the early season. Start your morning with SCS Rocket Science Daily and visit us throughout the day to keep abreast of all your Houston Rockets news and updates.
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