2012-2013 Dallas Mavericks Season Preview
The Deron Williams/Dwight Howard sweepstakes didn’t quite come to fruition this summer but the Dallas Mavericks have set themselves up with a talented and dangerous cast heading into next season. Placing that number two All-Star, a Robin next to Dirk Nowitzki turned out to be a mirage but Mark Cuban and the Mavs have set themselves up nicely to compete next season and have flexibility for the summer of 2013.
O.J. Mayo, Chris Kaman, Darren Collison and Elton Brand represent an excellent haul for Dallas after striking out in the superstar sweepstakes this offseason. This Mavericks team doesn’t possess the Dream Team stature of the Los Angeles Lakers in the West, but the Mavs do possess a hungry and talented core ready to inflict damage on the rest of the NBA.
HOOPSWORLD takes a look at the 2012-2013 Dallas Mavericks:
Five Guys Think…
Even though he’s still yet to really admit it, Mark Cuban is eventually going to regret not keeping his championship team together. It took him years to put it together, then when he did finally achieve the ultimate goal he let the team disband in favor of cap space. He’s done a good job of underselling his inability to land Deron Williams, but that hurt and set the team back another year. The team he has put together for this season has some promise, but it’s a short-term group put together with preserving cap space in mind. It’s going to be really difficult for Coach Carlisle to get everyone up to speed quickly and develop chemistry. Free agency could hit before that happens and Cuban will again be tasked with filling several holes. Having a revolving surrounding cast sure doesn’t seem like the best way to use the last years of Dirk Nowitkzi’s prime. Maybe this group thrives together as underdogs like the 2011 team did, but on the outset they look like the third-best team in the Southwest and a fringe playoff team headed for a first-round exit.
3rd Place – Southwest Division
– Yannis Koutroupis
Once again the Dallas Mavericks are preparing to enter training camp with a bunch of new faces, ranging from proven veterans like Elton Brand and Chris Kaman to budding young players like O.J. Mayo and Darren Collison, who are looking to find their place in the NBA. They’re all under one-year contracts, which complicates things further. Will they play like they’re building a résumé, or will they come together as a team and chase a championship? At this point, either seems entirely possible. If they come together quickly, the Mavs could challenge the Spurs for the Southwest Division crown, but what’s more likely is that it will take some time for this new group to figure each other out while the Spurs and the Memphis Grizzlies use their continuity to their advantage.
3rd Place – Southwest Division
– Bill Ingram
The Dallas Mavericks didn’t land Deron Williams or Dwight Howard in recent months, but they did have a very busy summer. After finishing with the seventh-best record in the Western Conference last season, Dallas brought in a number of new faces including veterans O.J. Mayo, Darren Collison, Elton Brand, Chris Kaman and Dahntay Jones as well as rookies Jared Cunningham, Bernard James and Jae Crowder. The Mavericks got younger and could surprise people in the West, especially if Mayo and Collison are able to come into their own and benefit from the change of scenery. Dallas’ roster isn’t what it was two years ago, but they should be able to improve on last year’s 36-win campaign and challenge the Memphis Grizzlies for second place in the Southwest Division.
3rd Place – Southwest Division
– Alex Kennedy
It didn’t look good for a while there, with the Mavericks missing the boat on Deron Williams, then Steve Nash, and then even Jason Kidd, but you’ve got to hand it to Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban for scraping together a respectable offseason in the wake of all that disappointment. Elton Brand, O.J. Mayo, and Chris Kaman were all excellent values, and while I have no idea if that’s enough to keep them in the hunt for a championship this season, it certainly makes them more respectable than they would’ve been had they completely struck out this past summer. This team is getting older, but it’s still competitive. And they’ve still got Dirk Nowitzki, which always at least keeps them in the championship conversation.
3rd Place – Southwest Division
– Joel Brigham
Make no mistake the Dallas Mavericks placed all bets in luring All-Star guard Deron Williams to town this summer to pair with Dirk Nowitzki. But, you have to credit the Mavericks’ brain trust for salvaging the summer when Williams decided to re-sign with the Brooklyn Nets. The Mavericks were still able to land solid free agents in Chris Kaman and O.J. Mayo as part of their contingency plan. Kaman is a former All-Star and Mayo is a guard who possesses All-Star level talent. The team also traded for point guard Darren Collison to replace Jason Kidd who bolted to New York. With the talent assembled the Mavericks will undoubtedly keep their playoff streak alive and push it to thirteen straight campaigns.
2nd Place – Southwest Division
– Lang Greene
Top Of The List
Top Offensive Player: There’s not much question here as Dirk Nowitzki is still positioned securely as one of the best scorers in basketball. Even though he got off to a rocky start last season, Nowitzki finished strong and still ended up as a the top-10 scorer in the NBA for the 2011-12 season. The difficult process of rehabilitating the first real knee injury of his career (the right knee to be exact from midway through the 2011 championship season) hurt Nowitzki last season, but the numbers show a sharp curve after his recovery. Nowitzki averaged over 23.5 points per game on over 46 percent shooting over the last three months of the season. Then, in four postseason games against the eventual Western Conference Champion Oklahoma City Thunder, Nowitzki averaged nearly 27 points per game despite being hounded by the likes of Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins.
Top Defensive Player: Another clear-cut choice, forward Shawn Marion will be the driving force from the perimeter on the Mavericks defense once again next season. Just last year Marion spent his time covering every NBA star from Chris Paul to LeBron James to Blake Griffin in an excellent, NBA Defensive Player of the Year discussion-worthy season. Late in his career, Marion still has the size, athleticism and veteran savvy to cover nearly every professional player 1-through-4. Even with another year under his belt, Marion – who will have some extra help in the paint with the additions of Chris Kaman and Elton Brand – will anchor this Mavericks defense next season.
Top Playmaker: With Jason Kidd out of the picture, the onus to be the key distributor on this Dallas team falls to newcomer Darren Collison. With Collison, who averaged nearly 19 points and eight assists in place of the injured Chris Paul his rookie season, the Mavs will feature a speedy, knifing dynamic that Dallas sorely lacked this past season. Speed is the name of Collison’s game and that’s exactly what the Mavericks coaching staff is preaching to the newly acquired point guard this season. Collison will be expected to not only force the tempo defensively with his speed but dictate the offense with drive and kick penetration that should make life easier for his teammates throughout the 2012-2013 season.
Top Clutch Player: As he’s proved throughout his career, Nowitzki is in an elite category in terms of taking the last second shot in any given contest. With a one-legged fadeaway that’s just about unstoppable, teams around the league know exactly where the ball is going if the Mavericks are locked up in the final seconds of a tight contest. Not only does everyone across the NBA expect a final fall away from the big German but, in many cases, that awkward shot tingles the twine. Time and time again, Nowitzki has shown that he has the goods to deliver for Dallas when his team needs him the most. There’s no reason to think that trend doesn’t continue in 2012-13 with a Mavs’ team that will likely be desperate for Nowitzki’s late-game heroics.
The Unheralded Player: Even though he’s proven to be a solid center throughout his career, Chris Kaman comes to Dallas without much attention being paid to the seven footer. When healthy, it’s difficult to argue that the agile and versatile Kaman isn’t a top-10 NBA center. After all, the last season in which Kaman started 75 games with the LA Clippers in 2010 – albeit only the second time of his career – the big man averaged 18.5 points and over nine rebounds a contest on 49 percent shooting. The fact is Kaman has all the tools to be a player that shines next to Nowitzki and helps lead the Mavericks to another deep playoff run – if he can stay healthy.
Best New Addition: This is the toughest question to answer of the bunch but I’d have to give this to a likely resurgent O.J. Mayo in 2012-13. As Mayo said just last week at Mavs’ offseason acquisition introductions, the 24-year-old has placed his NBA game in the hands of head coach Rick Carlisle. Placing his career in the hands of his new coach is a great sign that the former number three overall pick is ready to take his game to the next level. With a gifted teacher firmly in his ear, all signs point to Mayo taking his game to the next level as the starting shooting guard for the Mavericks next season.
– Derek Page
Who We Like
1. Dirk Nowitzki: Last season, knee issues doomed Nowitzki and the Mavericks to a poor start out of the gate but an infusion of talent should rejuvenate everyone this season. Despite premature exaggerations of Nowitzki’s demise by Charles Barkley, among others, at the beginning of last season Nowitzki finished strong and shows no signs of stopping. There’s no question Nowitzki is still one of the best players in the world and, once again, Nowitzki’s play next season will dictate just how far the Mavericks go. Even with a younger and arguably more talented cast around him, Nowitzki will again have to be the difference for Dallas in 2013.
2. Rick Carlisle: A master technician in putting his players in the best position to succeed, Carlisle will have his work cut out for him with eight newcomers (out of 15) this season. A great problem to have, the Mavericks have been a team blessed with talent at every position over the last few seasons. The reason that everyone stays happy and generally no one questions their place is because Carlisle knows just how to handle his players. Already with the expressed consent of two of his new players in Collison and Mayo, Carlisle will face the majority of responsibility and blame in regards to how this season turns out. Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban assembled this team with the belief that Carlisle would make sure each piece fit together and now it’s up to the Mavs’ head coach to prove him right.
3. O.J. Mayo: After excelling in a starting role with a moribund Memphis Grizzlies team in his first two seasons, Mayo took a back seat with a sixth man role for a playoff-bound Grizzlies team between 2010-2012. Now, penciled in as a starter once again in 2012-13 for the Mavericks, Mayo has a shot to prove that he has the goods to be a productive starter on a playoff team. In order for Dallas to truly contend in the upcoming season, Mayo must prove to be not only a consistent, but efficient scorer for this Mavs’ offense. At just 24-years-old and with plenty to prove, the safe bet says that Mayo – through an all-in approach with the help of Coach Carlisle – will be at his best next season.
4. Darren Collison: Expectations were high for Collison after he filled in extraordinarily for perennial All-Star point guard Chris Paul during his rookie season in New Orleans. As of now, that seems like a distant memory for the former Indiana Pacers point guard who lost his starting spot late last season. Of all of the redemption stories for the Mavericks heading into the season, Collison just may have the most to prove. There’s little doubt Indiana’s offense changed from a drive and kick approach to a more of a collective distribution method late last season. With Dallas, the emphasis will be on Collison’s speed and quickness and Carlisle and co. appear open to letting the new starting point guard run wild next season on both ends of the court.
5. Chris Kaman: Behind only NBA Title winner and reigning Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler, Kaman has an opportunity in Dallas to become the second-best center in franchise history. Already with experience playing together with the German National Team, Dallas is counting on its frontcourt combo of Nowitzki and Kaman to be one of the teams biggest strengths this season. For that to happen, Kaman must play in at least 70 games next season – something the seven footer has accomplished just four times in his nine-year NBA career. That being said, Kaman has proved more than capable throughout his career of being a key cog if he can stay on the court.
– Derek Page
Once again next season, Dallas will feature a deep and dangerous roster that no one will be eager to face come playoff time. From top to bottom, it’s difficult to remember another time in the past twenty years that the Mavericks have possessed more talent. Always a team that prides itself on superior depth, Dallas has outdone itself this season. If this team can stay healthy and play up to expectations, other teams in the brutal Western Conference are going to be put on notice quickly in 2012-13.
– Derek Page
With the abundance of new faces, cohesion is going to be an issue for a team that has undergone a severe makeover this summer. Many of the new players on the roster, along with a couple of notable mainstays, aren’t assured of a spot on the Mavs’ roster after this season. All of the hunger to get a new contract could certainly help this team but could also be a major deterrent if players start to think only of themselves and shun Carlisle’s team philosophy. Also, with a team that’s thin at the center position behind the injury-prone Kaman, injuries could derail a potential contending season fast. Either way, with the talent currently in place, the Mavericks don’t appear quite ready to take on the super teams of the NBA – although a seven-game series against this squad will be no cake walk.
– Derek Page
What Needs To Be Said On Opening Day….
Some things change – some things stay the same. Dirk, I’m not going to lie, we are going to lean on you more than ever to be the man. You have some different pieces around you, and if those pieces can genuinely fit together, we still have a run left in us. It won’t be easy, though. All the teams around us got better, and we need to prove that we’ve also improved. I think it will be more difficult to demonstrate that improvement on the defensive end to start. Darren, O.J., Shawn, we need you to be extremely effective with the way you lead our defensive attack on the perimeter. Chris, Dirk hasn’t worked with a center as offensively versatile as you are, and we will need every ounce of that versatility if we can contend with some of the truly excellent teams in the West.
– Anthony Macri and Brett Koremenos
The Burning Question
Can a team centered around a 33-year-old Dirk Nowitzki pinning their hopes on resurgent seasons from various veterans hope to be a legit contender in 2013?
After winning a championship in 2011, Dallas regressed this past season with the loss of defensive stalwart in the middle Tyson Chandler and a few other key veterans. Now, the Mavericks have retooled and are looking to be legitimate contenders once again in the brutal Western Conference.
That’s going to be easier said than done with a bevy of multi-faceted and talented teams littered throughout the conference.
Dallas is banking on comeback seasons from players like Mayo, Collison and Kaman with hopes that playing in a contract year will garner the best from each of these players. While still not in the league of the Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder or Miami HEAT, the Mavericks still possess a quality team that will be a tough out come May.
– Derek Page