Plenty of New Faces Occupy Mavericks
For most of the first week and a half of free agency, the talk around the Dallas Mavericks was almost exclusively about the massive disappointment of failing to acquire All-Star point guard Deron Williams via free agency.
Before Williams’ decision to stay with the Brooklyn Nets, optimism was high around Mavs’ headquarters at the 2012 NBA draft and, with Williams or not, it was evident that this team was prepared to perform a colossal roster makeover.
“It’s a time of change right now,” Carlisle said after the 2012 NBA draft, with thoughts of Williams playing the pick-and-roll with Dirk Nowitzki still likely on his mind. “We’re going to load up on the right kind of guys and we’re going to coach the heck out of them.”
Now, after a bevy of moves to start the signing period on July 11, Mavericks’ fans ready to take the plunge off of the top of the American Airlines Center have made their way down from the roof. Even though Dallas still hasn’t acquired that second superstar, angry fans and pundits in the DFW-area have dispersed the angry mob and put their torches and pitchforks away… for now.
Recent acquisitions Chris Kaman, Darren Collison and Elton Brand will look to make Dallas a formidable team next season, while their contracts will help the Mavericks be players in 2013 free agency. Most recently, the Mavericks have come to terms with free agent shooting guard O.J. Mayo, who will join Dallas after spending his first four NBA seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies.
All four of these players are expected to make a significant impact on this team next season alongside a perennial All Star in Nowitzki. Coach Carlisle is expecting these newcomers to come in and play what he characterized as “Mavericks basketball.”
“Hard, aggressive play,” Carlisle told HOOPSWORLD of his expectations. “Playing Mavericks’ basketball, which is attacking on offense and being tough on defense.”
As of this moment, players and coaches are ready to focus on a busy upcoming few weeks as Carlisle and his staff try to familiarize themselves with some of the younger players on the team during the 2012 NBA Summer League. The 24th overall pick, Jared Cunningham, may miss the entire Summer League due to an injured hamstring, but Carlisle has still been able to work on the fundamentals with the Mavericks’ top pick off the court.
With Cunningham hobbled, the main priority on the court during Summer League for Carlisle will be helping second-round picks Bernard James and Jae Crowder, among others, get accustomed to the NBA game.
“The Vegas Summer League is the best simulation of a real NBA game,” Carlisle told HOOPSWORLD. “You’ve got several thousand people in here for most of the games. You’ve got NBA refs and it’s NBA quality talent. It’s a great opportunity for the kids and it’s an opportunity for us to get them acclimated, to evaluate them and help get them better.”
In terms of those three most recent Mavericks’ draft picks, Carlisle believes each player fits the mold of the Mavericks’ attitude, expectations and the team’s overall philosophy.
“We wanted to get some hard-playing guys in this draft,” Carlisle said. “Hard-playing, energetic-type guys to continue to work at that culture here of high-character kids that play hard and want to do things the right way. We feel like [the 2012 draft] was a good night for us.”
“We’ve got a little of everything,” Mavericks’ general manager Donnie Nelson said. “We’ve got a little backcourt help, we’ve got small forward help and some help in our front line so we’re looking forward to these guys being in Mavs’ uniforms – for the Summer League and beyond.”
Considering the lack of a Summer League this past offseason due to the NBA lockout over the previous summer, Carlisle isn’t taking this valuable experience time for his players lightly. The coach believes the NBA will be more stable next season with a full training camp and preseason due to the increased preparation time for everyone involved.
“Things are back to normal so everybody’s happy about that,” Carlisle told HOOPSWORLD. “Going forward, I expect that the whole league is going to be a little bit more settled with the development of the younger guys, getting the veteran guys ready for the season and so on and so forth.
“We got through last year – and it was a hell of a year all things considered – but going forward it’s going to better.”
There’s no doubt last year was a difficult experience with everyone involved in the Mavericks’ organization. The acquisition of Lamar Odom was a well-documented failure, while injuries and ineptitude culminated in a first-round sweep at the hands of the younger, more talented Oklahoma City Thunder.
While Williams’ rejection still stings, Dallas has infused this roster with talent heading into next season and, as usual, have the possibility of being legitimate playoff contenders in the Western Conference. This complete re-tooling of this Mavericks’ roster has moved so swiftly and thoroughly, it may be hard for fans next season to recognize the home team players in Dallas.
As of now, barring the now doubtful return of Delonte West due to the signing of Mayo, Dallas will come into next season with just six returning players from the 2012 season. This infusion of young talent (after being one of the oldest teams in basketball last season, Dallas now possesses seven players on the roster at 24 years old or younger) and bevy of new faces will undoubtedly put Carlisle’s coaching ability to the test.
Coach Carlisle is known for being able to get the most out of the players he coaches and, with an abundance of new players and roles, this year might be one of his toughest tests to date. Then again, not many coaches take to complaining about an overabundance of talent.