Dallas Mavericks: A Legitimate Contender?
With the recent win over the previously undefeated New Orleans Hornets, the buzz surrounding the 2010-2011 version of the Dallas Mavericks is reaching a deafening level. Many think Mark Cuban may have finally pieced together a team which fills the constant needs in rebounding and defense which the team has had for so many years.
A team that could finally regain the glory of 2005 and make its way back to the NBA Finals for one last shot at a championship. In spite of early injuries to Rodrigue Beaubois and Caron Butler, two significant contributors on the offensive end, the Mavs are off to an impressive 8-2 start.
It appears as if Tyson Chandler and Shawn Marion may provide the grit, toughness and rebounding skill which the team has so desperately needed and was never able to muster out of a combination of Brandon Bass, DeSagana Diop and Erick Dampier. If defense wins championships, this could be the sign of great things to come.
There is no doubt that the Mavericks are aging and are maybe a step slower than the explosive teams of the early 2000s, but what is lacking in explosiveness, is present in spades with experience. The subject of many off-season trade rumors, Jason Terry, has exploded in the early season with several high scoring games, reminding fans of “The Jet” of old. There is likely not a more substantial development in Dallas than Terry’s performance due to the fact that it is so unexpected.
The combination of Rodrigue Beaubois and Jason Kidd were believed to be in line to lead the Mavericks for the 2010 campaign, but with Terry’s recent performances, it will be difficult for coach Rick Carlisle to keep him off the hardwood as the season progresses.
The elephant in the corner of the room will likely rear its ugly head at some point in the season, as it does for all veteran teams. The I word. Injuries. If the Mavericks can somehow stay healthy and avoid any long-term injuries to its most vital pieces, a mid-level seed in the Western Conference playoffs is a very reasonable goal.
Unfortunately, there are several players on the roster with an extensive history of injuries, including Tyson Chandler and superstar Dirk Nowitzki. Losing either of these two guys for a significant portion of the season could completely change the team’s fortunes.
Can the Mavericks fight their way through the notoriously difficult Western Conference and make their way back to the NBA Finals for one last shot before rebuilding becomes a necessity? Only the basketball gods know for sure.