NBA Dallas Mavericks

5 Players Who Must Step Up in 2013-14 for Dallas Mavericks

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5 Players Who Must Step for the Dallas Mavericks This Season

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To say last year was a disappointment for the Dallas Mavericks would be an understatement. Dallas missed the playoffs for the first time in 12 seasons, and this was just two years removed from winning the NBA championship.

Last year was also the first time in 12 seasons that Dallas didn't finish with a record over the .500 mark. There are several contributing factors to the disappointing season. Dirk Nowtizki missed the first 27 games with a knee injury. The new guys like Darren Collison, O.J. Mayo and Elton Brand never gelled with the team. There were problems on the defensive side of the ball.

Also, the Mavericks had a hard time closing out games last season. They lost the first seven overtime games they played last year. Coach Carlisle knows that has to change this season. He's already put an emphasis on defense this season. The first practice of training camp was nothing but a defensive practice for the Mavericks.

Not only is he putting a huge emphasis on defense this season, but they also brought in a lot of new faces this year. Either through the NBA draft or free agency, Dallas has added nine new faces to the roster. With the addition of the new faces, Carlisle is hoping that he can keep some of the veterans' minutes down to save them for a possible playoff run. Veteran players like Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion and Vince Carter are all key pieces to the team. Their health is going to be key to the Mavericks making any type of run in the playoffs. Here are five players on the Dallas roster that must step up this season for them to be successful.

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5. Shawn Marion

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Arguably the best defender the Mavericks have, he is going to have to keep up the defensive intensity this season. Marion will be called on to help lock down some of the bigger stars around the NBA.

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4. Samuel Dalembert

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Dalembert was brought in for one purpose during the offseason -- to help shore up the paint for the Mavericks. Last year, Dallas struggled with rebounding and they will look for Dalembert to help fix that problem this year.

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3. Jae Crowder

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Crowder came in last year and instantly became a fan favorite on this team. Dallas will need Crowder to bring the intensity and energy off the bench like he did last year.

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2. Monta Ellis

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Ellis was brought in to help relieve Dirk Nowitzki from all the scoring responsibilities. Dirk has led the Mavericks in scoring for a while now. It's not out of the question, though, that Monta could take over that role in the next couple of years. He's going to have to learn to take better shots. His efficiency has been something questioned by media personnel, and he'll need to fix that this season.

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1. Jose Calderon

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Calderon was signed during the offseason because of his ability to get people the ball. He has been a target for the Mavericks for a while, but they finally were able to sign him this year. Calderon will be looked at to not only run the offense, but help groom the younger guys on the roster.