Dallas Mavericks Season Preview

26 10 2008

My NBA South West Division preview continues with the Dallas Mavericks:

Dallas Mavericks

2007-08 Standings 51 – 31, 7th Western Conference

2008-09 Predicted Record 45 – 37, 4th South West Division, 8th Western Conference

Projected Starting Five:  Erick Dampier, Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard, Jason Terry, Jason Kidd

Sixth Man:  Jerry Stackhouse

If Jason Kidd can recapture his form from a few years ago then the Dallas Mavericks will remain a contender, otherwise look out below.

If Jason Kidd can recapture his form from a few years ago then the Dallas Mavericks will remain a contender, otherwise look out below.

The Dallas Mavericks are a team on the slide but they remain seemingly unaware of it. In 2006 this team made the NBA Finals where they were defeated by the Miami Heat in six games. The following season they had one of the best regular seasons in history, finishing 67 – 15. Mavs superstar Dirk Nowitzki won the MVP but unfortunately they met the upstart Golden State Warriors in the first round and were bounced from the playoffs. In retrospect they perhaps should have retooled the team then. Instead they waited till midseason and traded point guard star of the future, Devin Harris to the New Jersey Nets for former Maverick Jason Kidd. The trade didn’t work and the team were bounced from the first round of the playoffs again. Instead of retooling the roster in the offseason, the Mavericks have kept mostly the same roster together, the only major change is new coach Rick Carlisle.

At least the Mavericks still have a superstar centrepiece in Dirk Nowitzki. Nowitzki remains a top 10 player in the league. He is arguably the best shooting big man ever and when his shot is falling is unstoppable. Unfortunately he goes missing at times – can you see Tim Duncan leading the San Antonio Spurs to the best record in the NBA and then allowing his team to be bounced in the first round? Perhaps it’s the toll of playing most offseasons for the German national team? Saying that though I still consider Nowitzki a franchise player, the question is whether he is surrounded by the right players.

The highest profile of Nowitzki’s sidekicks is Jason Kidd. Kidd is a future Hall of Famer. He should have won an MVP trophy for leading an inferior New Jersey Nets team to the Finals twice. Four years ago this would have been a great acquisition for the Mavericks. Unfortunately Kidd has worryingly shown his age over the past year or two and he is a shadow of his former self. The one positive however is that he has a massive expiring contract and if things aren’t going well for the Mavs then it wouldn’t surprise to see him moved before the trade deadline. 

Josh Howard is an All Star talent with an unfortunate knack of getting into All Star class trouble off the court.  Before the playoffs last year he admitted to using marijuana in the offseason then in September he disrespected the US national anthem and flag. Not a good look. Unfortunately such acts have damaged Howard’s trade value so it looks like the Mavericks are stuck with him. On the plus side he is an exceptional do-everything talent and if he can get his head right he ensures the Mavericks remain contenders.

The other notable talent on the Mavericks if Jason Terry. A slight player, Terry is a streak shooter capable of taking over a game every so often. He’s probably better coming off the bench but can perform the starter’s role admirably.

Coach:

Rick Carlisle has his work cut out for him. Somehow he must keep the Mavericks in contention (there is still a belief in Mavericks land that they are contenders) while getting them to forget the failures of the past couple of years. He has a talented group of assistants with him and it will be intriguing to see the schemes they create.

Bench:

On paper the Mavericks have a solid, well rounded bench. Jerry Stackhouse is the designated sixth man while they also have defensive stoppers in DeSagana Diop and Devean George with a dashing swingman in Gerald Green. However Stackhouse is past it and Green has proved woefully erratic, failing to stick with even poor teams such as the former Boston Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves.

Star Player:

Dirk Nowitzki is the star here. While his MVP is tarnished by the subsequent loss in the first round he is still a transcendent scorer.

Team MVP:

Jason Kidd is critical to the Dallas Mavericks hopes this season. If he can recapture the form of season’s past then the Mavericks will remain in contention. However this is doubtful. He was always a poor shooter but he compensated brilliantly in other ways. Can he do it again?

Final Prognosis:

Unfortunately the Dallas Mavericks are doomed to another season of disappointment. It wouldn’t surprise to see them hovering around the .500 mark midseason and then pulling off a blockbuster trade or two. I still expect them to make the playoffs but they’ll be bounced in the first round again.

 

You can find an index of past Previews here.

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