41-41, 4th in Southwest Division, 10th in Western Conference
PPG 101.1/101.7 OPP PPG
DeJuan Blair – PF
Jose Calderon – PG
Vince Carter – SG
Jae Crowder – SF
Samuel Dalembert – C
Wayne Ellington – SG
Monta Ellis – SG
Devin Harris – PG
Bernard James – C
Shane Larkin – PG
Ricky Ledo – SG
Shawn Marion – SF
Gal Mekel – PG
Dirk Nowitzki – PF
Brandan Wright – PF/C
PG – Jose Calderon
SG – Monta Ellis
SF – Shawn Marion
PF – Dirk Nowitzki
C – Samuel Dalembert
The Mavericks finished the 2012-13 season with a record of 41-41 and missed the playoffs for the first time in 12 years. The Mavericks were without Dirk Nowitzki until late December and it took him roughly two months to once again play at the high level Mavericks fans have become accustomed to.
The 2012-13 team was comprised of multiple players that were playing on one-year contracts. After missing out on Deron Williams in free agency, the Mavericks plan was to stay competitive with numerous one-year deals with free agent veterans. This was supposed to keep Dallas competitive while retaining future salary cap flexibility. The effects of this plan were felt in the locker room as it created an air of uncertainty as the majority of the team was playing without any sense of long-term security.
The Mavericks played surprisingly well early in the season without Dirk Nowitzki, but eventually fell out of the playoff race. Heading into the season the Mavericks were hopeful that Darren Collison could be an effective starting point guard. Unfortunately for Dallas that was not the case as Collison frustrated Dallas fans and Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle with his inconsistent play. While Collison failed to live up to even modest expectations, he is not the only free agent to signing that let the Mavericks down in 2012-13.
Chris Kaman was signed to give Dallas a scoring threat at the center position, but he never appeared fully healthy. Kaman struggled as the season reached the halfway point and he was no longer the effective player that he was in years past. The only silver lining for Dallas was the fact that they had no long-term contractual obligation to either player. The Mavericks once again had cap room and they would look to free agency in hopes of improving their team.
The Mavericks were one of four teams heavily pursuing Dwight Howard in the offseason. Howard ultimately chose the Houston Rockets and Mavericks were forced to go with Plan B. The Mavericks could not sell their fans or Dirk Nowitzki on another season of one-year deals after failing to achieve their primary goal in free agency. Rebuilding was not a logical choice as Dirk Nowitzki still has at least few years left in the tank. Dallas may not have landed Dwight Howard, but they upgraded their starting five and bench with a series of moves in free agency.
After a year of inconsistent play from Darren Collison and free-agent veteran Mike James, the Mavericks made addressing the point guard position a priority. The Mavericks signed one of the top point guards in free agency in Jose Calderon. Calderon is a smart, pass-first point guard who provides Dallas with a significant upgrade over Darren Collison and Mike James. Calderon will also help put Dirk Nowitzki in the best position to score, something that Jason Kidd and Jason Terry routinely did during their tenures in Dallas.
The Mavericks may have chosen not to retain O.J. Mayo, but they still needed a suitable secondary scoring option to fill the void at shooting guard. The top scoring guard in free agency was Monta Ellis. Ellis is an explosive, shoot-first guard who will immediately become the Mavericks second-best scoring option. The knock on Ellis is that he is an inefficient, volume shooter. Everyone is a critic, but Ellis has averaged 19.5 points per game throughout his eight-year career.
The Mavericks are hopeful that playing with a point guard like Jose Calderon (who is the opposite of Brandon Jennings when it comes to getting others involved) and a legitimate star like Dirk Nowitzki will improve the looks he receives on offense. Given the lack of other options in free agency the Mavs are happy to have a player of Ellis’ caliber. Ellis is the type of scorer that can roll out of bed and score 20 points per game. O.J. Mayo’s shooting percentage from the field and from 3-point range improved in Dallas so the Mavericks have reason to be optimistic the same thing could happen with Monta Ellis.
The other significant upgrade the Mavericks made was at the center position. Dallas kicked the tires on Andrew Bynum, but ultimately decided not to offer him a contract. This may prove to be a wise move as Andrew Bynum missed the entire 2012-13 season with a knee injury. He may have been able to return last season, but decided to go bowling while rehabbing his injury. Bynum’s dedication, work ethic and love for the game have come into question in the past and his off-court activities last season did nothing to disprove this notion.
The Mavericks signed free-agent center Samuel Dalembert to a two-year deal and he will be the Mavericks starting center in 2013-14. Dalembert has been a solid defensive center throughout this 11-year career with averages of 8.0 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. The Mavericks lacked a defensive presence in the paint last season and their rebounding statistics reflected this fact. Dallas ranked 26th out of 30 in offensive rebounding last season. Dalembert was one of only a few options in free agency that could help Dallas in the paint.
The Mavericks improved their depth by adding Devin Harris, Wayne Ellington and DeJuan Blair. The Mavericks also retained a key piece to their bench by signing free agent forward Brandan Wright to a two-year deal for $10 million. The Mavericks bench will be rounded out by center Bernard James, first-round draft pick Shane Larkin, second-round pick Ricky Ledo and Gal Mekel. Mekel is a former Israeli league MVP who displayed his passing skills in the Las Vegas Summer League.
The Mavericks overcame the disappointment of missing out on Dwight Howard by responding very aggressively in free agency. The Mavericks upgraded their roster across the board with the best options that were available. Dallas won a respectable 41 games in 2013-14 with Dirk Nowitzki missing a large portion of the season. In addition to the games that Dirk missed, the Mavericks never received consistent play from the point guard or center position last season, that should change in 2013-14.
Rick Carlisle is one of the best coaches in the NBA and he will have a deeper, more versatile roster to work with this season. If the Mavericks are able to develop chemistry early in the season there is no reason not to expect this team to once again join the group of eight teams that we will see in the post season in the Western Conference.
The Mavericks benefit from Dirk Nowitzki starting the season healthy and the upgrades that Dallas made in free agency pay immediate dividends. Monta Ellis improves his shot selection and becomes an efficient secondary scoring option for the Mavericks. The Mavericks improve on last seasons win total and make a return to the playoffs in the Western Conference.
The new pieces that Dallas assembled take some time to gel and the Mavericks fall behind early in the highly competitive Western Conference. Gaining ground in the Western Conference will be difficult this season as the Portland Trail Blazers and Minnesota Timberwolves have also improved their roster. Dallas narrowly misses out on the playoffs.
46-36, 3rd in the Southwest Division, 8th in Western Conference