Dallas Mavericks Season Preview – NBA Predictions
The Dallas Mavericks were on top of the world following their 2011 NBA Championship, but they came crashing back down to earth last season when they lost in the first round of the playoffs for the fifth time in the last seven years. In the lockout-shortened season, Dirk Nowitzki came in and put up unexpectedly low numbers.
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He was able to turn his individual performance around by the end of the year, but it was too little, too late.
The Dallas Mavericks are set to enter the 2012-13 season with a drastically different roster than last year. Having said goodbye to Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Ian Mahinmi and Brendan Haywood, the team made room to bring in a number of key additions. The goal was to bring in NBA megastar Deron Williams—and eventually Dwight Howard—but after the point guard re-signed with the Brooklyn Nets, the Mavericks moved on to plan B.
The first big move was to bring in Chris Kaman to fill the void at center. Kaman hasn’t been a star-quality big man since the 2010 season, but his presence will be felt, as he’ll provide the toughness that Nowitzki lacks. Next, the team traded for Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones. The next acquisition was Elton Brand off the waiver wire and the team wrapped up free agency by picking up O.J. Mayo.
Of all new rotation players, O.J. Mayo is the one who has a chance to come in and really bounce back from yet another underwhelming season. His rookie campaign was strong and filled with tons of potential, but he’s yet to take his game to the next level. Now on a disciplined Dallas team with a true leader, Mayo can slowly transition into the starting 2-guard.
Defensively, the Mavericks were an upper-middle-of-the-road team last year. They return Shawn Marion who will be the anchor of the defense on the perimeter, and the additions of Brand and Kaman will help bolster the low block. This team has talent, but whether or not they can jell in their first season together has yet to be seen.
Nowitzki’s health is also a bit of a wild card. The 34-year-old has never been injury prone throughout his 14-year career, but having undergone knee surgery less than two weeks before the season begins, he is expected to miss the first month of the year. If he can come back healthy, looking like his old self, he’ll help boost the team’s success upon his return. If he can’t, it will be a long season with the team’s star holding them back.
The only good news regarding Nowitzki’s recovery is that the team has a relatively easy schedule to open up the year. With the exception of the Los Angeles Lakers on opening night, the Mavericks don’t face a true contender as long as he is expected to be out. You never want your star player to miss time, but if it’s unavoidable, having it be against lesser competition is an ideal situation.
Although the Mavericks made major changes this summer, those moves hardly make them contenders against the best that the West has to offer. The team could certainly surprise everybody and take full advantage of the talent on their new-look roster, but it takes more than just talent to win big. This team needs time to grow together, and with money to spend in the summer of 2013, they may or may not actually get that chance past this year. If this team is going to win together, it likely has to be this season, but the stacked Western Conference is likely too tough to allow that to happen.
Not landing any superstars this summer was a blow the grand plan in Dallas. The team recovered nicely with their offseason acquisitions, but assuming they don’t earn home-court advantage in the postseason, another first-round exit might be just around the corner.