The Dallas Mavericks finally missed the postseason in 2013 after a fantastic 12-year playoff run. The Mavs were a different team immediately after defeating the Miami Heat in the 2011 Finals. Every season since then, Dallas’ roster has had a significantly different look. This year, it features the potentially harmful duo of Dirk Nowitzki and newcomer guard Monta Ellis. Will the two, among other role players, be enough to lead Dallas back to the playoffs? I’ll give you my outlook on Dallas’ 2013-14 season:
Guards (B): Jose Calderon, Monta Ellis, Gal Mekel, Wayne Ellington, Ricky Ledo, Devin Harris (IR), Shane Larkin (IR)
The Dallas Mavericks have yet another brand new backcourt, this one in hopes of giving the offense a boost. Neither Calderon or Ellis are particularly good defenders, but they have the ability to help the offense function at a new level. Calderon has been quiet the last year or so but still has great court vision and should fit well with the likes of Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki. The Mavs are Ellis’ third team in his nine-year NBA career. This gives Monta a fresh start after struggling to find a true identity in Milwaukee. Rick Carsisle should give Ellis the freedom to be himself again and be a key component in this offense. Ellis is best when he is comfortably scoring over 20 points per game. But with Dirk, he can still score efficiently being the second option, averaging just under 20 a game. Wayne Ellington will serve as a very important backup to this Maverick team searching for depth at the guard position. Ellington is most effective catching and shooting or taking a dribble and pulling up.
Forwards (B+): Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter, Jae Crowder, DeJuan Blair
The Mavs’ core of forwards is really aged but can still get the job done. Nowitzki averaged under 20 points last year for the first time since his sophomore season. I think the Mavs need to see Nowitzki get back over the 20 PPG mark, which he is still definitely capable of doing. Regardless of his age, Nowitzki’s turnaround jumper is nearly unstoppable as long as he’s able to walk on two feet. Marion, also 35 years old, is still in pretty good shape and will continue to be asked to defend the opponent’s best player. The “Matrix” is naturally gifted with a great NBA body and athleticism, of which he hasn’t lost too much of. Vince Carter, 36 years old, will likely remain the team’s 6th man. Carter was a very efficient scorer last season, averaging 21 points per 40 minutes. Crowder and Blair will also be asked to step in the rotation and provide valuable minutes.
Centers (C+): Samuel Dalembert, Brandan Wright, Bernard James
The Mavs centers don’t bring much offense to the table but they make a strong defensive presence. Both Dalembert and Wright always look to reject balls in mid-air and are successful at doing so. The key for Dalembert will be staying healthy. A healthy and proficient Dalembert makes a lot of sense for this team to give the offense-defense attack more balance.
Defense (C+): The starting backcourt of Calderon and Ellis is really going to hold this defense back. The two guards will need to make up for that by doing a great job controlling the pace. Otherwise, the Mavs are more than adequate defenders. While Dirk’s obviously known for his scoring, he’s able to consistently disrupt teams with his length on defense, whether guarding the post or the perimeter. Marion does as good a job as almost anyone buckling down and defending a Kevin Durant or Kobe Bryant. And as I previously mentioned, the duo of centers defensively know how to get the job done.
Shooting (B+): This is another case of the shooting likely offsetting the below average defense. With Dirk Nowitzki on the court, that’s just how it is. Teams have to pay so much attention to him. Being double teamed on a consistent basis, players on the perimeter are often open and it’s just a matter of them knocking down the shot. I give Dallas’ shooting a “B+” because the open shooters aren’t “A” material.
Experience (A): Dallas has a lot of experience and not many young legs. However, clearly the older players can still compete with the best of them.
Standing – 8th West: It may be fair to look at Dallas’ roster and say it doesn’t have playoff talent compared to some other teams in the West. However, I think Dirk is hungry to get back into the playoffs and I also think Dirk and Ellis could turn into a fantastic one-two punch. I’m going out on a limb and saying Dallas sneaks into the last playoff spot.