The 2012-13 Dallas Mavericks enter the season looking like a team that not only got much needed major reconstructive surgery but also may have found a fountain of youth as well. Last season the Mavs finished the regular season in third place in the Southwest Division with a 36-30 record just one season following winning the NBA Championship. In the 2012 postseason the Mavs were swept in the first round, four games to none by the Oklahoma City Thunder and this left owner Mark Cuban and his brain trust searching for resolutions to ensure that a opening round sweep wasn’t on the menu for their 2013 postseason also.
The major cog in the Mavericks starting lineup is arguably the greatest shooting seven-footer the NBA history, Dirk Nowitzki. Last season Nowitzki had a less-than Dirk-like season averaging just 21.6 points (his lowest PPG average since 1999-00, his second season in the NBA), 6.7 rebounds (also his lowest average since 99-00) and 2.2 assists per game which had many questioning was the championship window closed in Dallas and was Dirk on the downward side of his career. The Mavs biggest offseason move was arguably the acquisition of shooting guard O.J. Mayo via free agency. Last season Mayo averaged 12.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.1 steals per game coming off of the bench for the Mavs divisional rival Memphis Grizzlies. Mayo should easily transform from sixth-man to second top scorer this season as he looks to have his breakout NBA season.
The Mavs starting five is rounded out by newly acquired Chris Kaman at center and Darren Collinson at point guard along with the returning veteran Shawn Marion at small forward. Last season Kaman averaged 13.1 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game for the New Orleans Hornets and should provide the Mavs with a legit low post defensive presence, something they lacked with the departure of Tyson Chandler following the 2010-11 season. Collison (10.4 points, 4.8 assists and 3.1 rebounds last season with the Indiana Pacers) will provide an upgrade at the point guard position in terms of youth, speed and intensity. Marion is Mr. Reliable of the starting five and you can expect him to be close to his season averages of 10.6 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game again this season.
The Mavs bench is pretty deep this season with a mixture of youth and experience, returning players and new acquisitions. Elton Brand leads the way for this reserve unit as he was acquired by the Mavs via free agency following being amnestied by the Philadelphia 76ers. Last season Brand averaged 11 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.1 blocks and one steal per game for the Sixers and the Mavs are hoping he produce similar numbers for them as Dirk’s backup. Dallas also acquired Dahntay Jones from the Pacers via trade along with Collinson and will give them an above average perimeter defender along with a few buckets per game as well.
Vince Carter, Delonte West and Rodrigue Beaubois all return for Dallas’ second unit and will look to continue to produce well enough to ensure that this second unit is better than last seasons. If Beaubois can finally make the leap that Dallas has been waiting for him to make from promising young player to legit talented and effective NBA player then he may be the biggest x-factor on the entire team. Another member of the Dallas second unit who could turn out to be very important is rookie forward Jae Crowder. During Crowder’s two years at Marquette he proved that not only was he an efficient scorer and rebounder but that he was one of the hardest workers in the nation. Crowder could provide some additional toughness to a team that has been labeled soft for as long as Dirk has been in town.
Head Coach/Front Office:
Rick Carlisle has proven that he is one of the top coaches currently in the NBA by winning everywhere that he has been. Carlisle has won 50 games or more in a season six times in his ten years as an NBA head coach but the most impressive factor in that equation is that he has done that with three different teams (the Detroit Pistons, Pacers and Mavericks). After getting a taste of winning an NBA title as a head coach back in 2011, Carlisle is far from done with trying get his team back to the game’s biggest stage and winning another one.
Mavericks General Manager Donnie Nelson has done a fine job this offseason with getting a group of quality players to reshuffle this Dallas lineup while still allowing some core players to remain with the team. Out goes Jason Terry, Jason Kidd, Lamar Odom, Brendan Haywood and Ian Mahinmi and in comes Collison, Mayo, Kaman, Brand, Jones and Crowder. Theirs is no telling how they will all gel together with Dirk and company but on paper all of the moves to acquire them seem very solid. If Mayo can step up and become the player he was projected to be from his high school days then the Mavs have a very legitimate shot at contending for a title this year.