Based on what the Dallas Mavericks have done this summer, they’re committed to being a dominant team around the rim again.
That may be the biggest collective X-factor heading into this season for the Mavs.
No doubt, the biggest splash for the Mavs was prying Chandler Parsons away from the Houston Rockets. But what may go overlooked is Dallas’ work at not only rebuilding their frontcourt in its entirety, but making it a lethal component once again.
That was evident on June 26 when the Mavs brought back Tyson Chandler from the New York Knicks. No disrespect to Samuel Dalembert, but Dallas’ low-post defense (and sometimes offense) was absolutely atrocious last season.
Chandler back in Dallas not only triggers nostalgia, but it makes Dallas’ presence in the post that much more efficient.
Dallas, then remembering that having three guys over 7-foot tall — or close to it — actually makes a difference, added Greg Smith to the roster; a banger in the paint who still has a lot of promise at 23 years old despite being plagued by injuries. When healthy, Smith possesses the same kind of traits that Chandler has — defensive-minded intimidation, ability to score around the basket and playing solid one-on-one low-post defense.
The key is for Smith to stay healthy. And while I believe in the voodoo mastery that is the Mavs’ training staff, he could be a key component for the Mavs this season to backup Chandler.
But what about Brandan Wright? He may be primed to have the biggest year of his career in 2014.
Wright is a tailor-made power forward. He’s essentially played backup center for his entire tenure in Dallas. His athleticism and shot-blocking ability gave Rick Carlisle the opportunity to put the 6-foot-10 former first-round pick at the 5.
Now that Dallas has a two-center combo of Chandler and Smith, Carlisle can move Wright to back up Dirk Nowitzki at power forward and create a very intimidating frontcourt.
Dallas squashed any concern over losing 3-point shooting with the losses of Jose Calderon and Vince Carter. Jefferson could become Parsons’ backup and Dallas wouldn’t miss a beat in terms of offensive production at small forward. As for Lewis, he’s an interesting player in this rotation.
Lewis showed during last season’s playoff run with Miami that he can still contribute for a contending team. So much so, that Erik Spoelstra put him in the starting lineup. Depending on how Carlisle sees this going, either Lewis will see time as a stretch power forward, or hardly any time at all. That is, if Wright is going to be Dirk’s backup like I project.
But if Rashard was to be Dirk’s backup for 10-15 minutes a night, that wouldn’t bother anyone at all. It’s been a long time since Dirk had a backup who could shoot from 3-point range. Then the Mavs could leave Wright as Chandler’s backup and bring in Smith for matchup purposes.
In short, Dallas has plenty of options with its frontcourt and Carlisle could have a lot of fun with this rotation.
It definitely beats having DeJuan Blair at 6-foot-7 as Dirk’s backup — although he’ll always be remembered in Mavs lore for almost helping Dallas upset the San Antonio Spurs.
The Mavs won the championship in 2011 because they had depth, most notably at center. They haven’t had that luxury the last few years, but now they do this year.
And that could be the difference by the time the playoffs come.