On October 7th, the Dallas Mavericks will open up their 2014-2015 season with a huge game against their new rival, the Houston Rockets. The Mavericks have changed drastically since last season, losing some key players but compensating with major additions from free agency.
After falling last year to the eventual NBA champions in a grueling seven game series, the Dallas Mavericks showed their true grit and ability to play both sides of the ball during the playoffs. The Mavs’ ability to test the Spurs, who completely dominated the rest of their competition, played a major part in the decision of free agents like Chandler Parsons sign with them. Usually not considered the most exciting team in the league, Dallas made a huge splash this offseason with the acquisitions of Tyson Chandler and Chandler Parsons. Along with these two potential starters, the team added notable players such as Jameer Nelson, Al-Farouq Aminu, Raymond Felton, Charlie Villanueva, Richard Jefferson and Greg Smith. These additions will provide much needed depth that will alleviate the stress on major players like Dirk Nowitzki (36), Tyson Chandler (32), and Devin Harris (31), as well as compensate for the loss of players like Vince Carter, Jose Calderon, and Shawn Marion.
Dallas Mavericks Depth Chart:
PG: Devin Harris, Jameer Nelson, Raymond Felton, Gal Mekel
SG: Monta Ellis, Ricky Ledo
SF: Chandler Parsons, Al-Farouq Aminu, Richard Jefferson, Jae Crowder, Eric Griffin
PF: Dirk Nowitzki, Brandan Wright, Greg Smith, Charlie Villanueva
C: Tyson Chandler, Bernard James
With one of the most brilliant coaches in the game, the Dallas Mavericks hope to reevaluate their focus on the defensive side of the ball, ranked 22nd (out of 30 teams) in defense last year. Helping the Mavs’ cause is a familiar face, former defensive player of the year, Tyson Chandler. Chandler, one of the major pieces of the 2011 Mavs championship team, hopes to recapture the defensive fire that helped lead to their 2011 success. To do this, however, Chandler Parsons will certainly have to step up defensively. Similarly, athletic small-forward, Al-Farouq Aminu is going to have to fulfill the role of “defensive specialist” to fill the gap left by Shawn Marion. The Dallas Mavericks will most likely lean on the scheme that has worked best for them in the last couple years: a zone with a one person man-to-man component to help shut down any star player on opposing teams.
Offensively, this year’s biggest change is an added depth that hasn’t been seen since the stacked 2011 championship team. Chandler Parsons truly stuck out last year as an up and coming star with career-high averages of 16.6 PPG, 4.0 APG, and 5.5 RPG. Parsons’ sweet stroke from the three point line and underrated athleticism are two noted reasons for Dallas viewing him as a valuable pickup. Without the overwhelming egos and ball-demanding play-styles of Dwight Howard and James Harden, fans hope to see the rise of Chandler Parsons into the role of a legitimate star.
The major area of debate coming into this season is the position of starting point guard. With heavy competition but no clear-cut winner, the decision on who to start will be a tough one for the coaching staff. Jameer Nelson is probably the most individually accomplished of the group, standing as the best shooter at 34.8% from the three point line with an average of 7.0 assists per game. Devin Harris, the other likely starter of the group, only shot 30.7% at the three line and averaged a comparatively paltry 4.5 assists per game. In Harris’s defense, though, he didn’t start all of last year, and also knows the Dallas offense better than Nelson.
The one big flaw in the Mavericks this year is their lack of three point shooting. The loss of Jose Calderon, one of the best three point shooters in the league last year, and Vince Carter will hurt the Mavericks in the three-point category. This area is where Richard Jefferson and Chandler Parsons should compensate. Jefferson will need to be a “three-point specialist,” similar to the role of Peja Stojakovic on the 2011 Mavericks Championship team. With Jefferson and Parsons spreading the floor, more opportunities should open up for drives to the basket and isolation plays.
The last major concern for the Mavericks is how well the beloved Dirk will play. Although his stats took a dip last season, Dirk was still able to perform well and perform efficiently. Alongside Tyson Chandler, Dirk should be able to continue his characteristic high scoring play while still being effective in spreading the ball to the wealth of scorers he has around him.
With all of these offseason power moves, the Mavericks should have a great season, and return to their “50 win season” ways that lasted from 2000-2011. Much like 2011, the Dallas Mavericks are not seen as NBA champion favorites but are certainly a team to contend with, ranking 6th overall by ESPN. With Dirk aging and looking a little slower each day and players such as Tyson Chandler on one year contracts, “The Time is Now” for the Mavericks to win their second NBA championship!