The Dallas Mavericks were finally able to use their salary cap flexibility to generate some excitement during the offseason. The Mavericks’ roster makeover appears to be complete and the results look extremely promising on paper.
The Mavericks were a 49-win team in the highly competitive Western Conference last season, and they have significantly upgraded their starting center and small forward position.
The additions of Tyson Chandler and Chandler Parsons have energized the Mavericks fan base who have longed for a successful offseason since Dallas chose not to retain many of the key members of the 2011 championship season.
Without any further roster moves, Dallas will take the roster below to training camp:
Center – Tyson Chandler, Brandan Wright.
The Mavericks’ starting five looks formidable enough to compete with any of the Western Conference powerhouse teams. The Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers will all begin the season with teams that closely resembled the 2013-14 versions.
If the Mavericks stay healthy they could find themselves protecting home court when the NBA playoffs come around in 2015. Making the playoffs is nice, but the Mavericks’ aggressive offseason has raised expectations higher than that of merely another playoff appearance.
For Dallas to fulfill those expectations it will come down to more than just the performance of their starting unit. The 2011 championship team in Dallas received key contributions in the postseason from up and down their deep roster.
Jason Terry, Jose Barea, DeShawn Stevenson, Peja Stojakovic, Corey Brewer and Brendan Haywood all played pivotal minutes for the Mavericks at some point during the 2011 season. None of these players may have been individually seen as the key to a successful championship run, but as a collective group they were vital to the Mavericks success.
Like the 2011 Dallas Mavericks, the 2014-15 team has a talented starting unit that is led by one of the top coaches in the NBA in Rick Carlisle. However, one of the questions facing this Mavericks team as training camp approaches is how well will their bench respond when the season begins.
The signing of Jameer Nelson provides the Mavericks with much-needed depth at the point guard position. With Nelson, Devin Harris and Raymond Felton on the roster, Dallas should be able to utilize the healthiest and most efficient point guard as Carlisle deems necessary.
With Chandler Parsons, Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki sharing the court, the point guard position is more about ball distribution and managing the half-court offense than it is putting up points.
The Mavericks will be backing up shooting guard Monta Ellis with a combination of Devin Harris and Ricky Ledo. Fortunately for the Mavericks, Ellis played 37 minutes per game in 2013. Expect a lot of two-point guard lineups without a true veteran shooting guard backing up Ellis.
Signing veteran Richard Jefferson to a one-year deal was a deft move that will provide Dallas with a veteran backup for Chandler Parsons. Jefferson put up a respectable 10.1 points per game on 45 percent shooting from the field in 2013-14 with the Utah Jazz.
The biggest questions entering training camp regarding the Mavericks depth lies in the paint. Tyson Chandler and Dirk Nowitzki will start, but finding suitable replacements could become problematic if either veteran were to miss any time.
Tyson Chandler averaged only 48 games played in the two seasons prior to the trade that landed him in Dallas. Chandler played 74 games for Dallas in 2011, but has averaged 61 games played the last three seasons he spent with the New York Knicks.
Dallas is hopeful they will get the 2011 version of Chandler that was healthy for the vast majority of the season, but history would indicate they should expect to be without him for at least a small portion of the season.
Currently backing up Chandler is Brandan Wright; an athletic power forward who will be a suitable backup in short stretches. Wright’s athletic ability belies a small frame and this gives him trouble when he is facing centers like Dwight Howard, Tim Duncan, DeAndre Jordan, Marc Gasol and DeMarcus Cousins.
The only other true center on the Mavericks roster is Greg Smith. Smith was acquired from the Chicago Bulls (who were clearing cap room) in exchange for the rights to Tadija Dragicevic.
Smith will be a player to watch during training camp and the preseason as Dallas is hopeful he can provide them with quality minutes in the paint off the bench. Smith is a 6’10”, 250 pound bruising forward/center who has averaged 3.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 14.4 minutes per game in his three-year career.
While the Mavericks frontcourt depth is a bit concerning, the Dallas team that will begin the season this fall may not be the same group that finishes out the regular season next April. Mark Cuban has shown that he is all in when it comes to putting a great team around Dirk Nowitzki.
If it were to take a trade-deadline deal that involves a future first-round pick to improve the Mavericks chances, don’t be surprised if the Dallas brass decides to pull the trigger at the NBA trade deadline in February.