Dallas Mavericks: Improved Defense Will Help Create A Balanced Attack

Apr 10, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Wesley Matthews (23) defends Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) during the 1st half at Staples Center. Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 10, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Wesley Matthews (23) defends Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) during the 1st half at Staples Center. Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports /

With defense always being an issue, the Dallas Mavericks attacked the free agent market and added some notable names this summer.

The Dallas Mavericks have had problems with their defense for the past few years. It seems like each season they’ve had a dynamic offense but their defense has fallen just short, which has been the root of their issues in terms of finding success in the postseason.

Think about it this way. Since the 2002-03 season, the Mavs have been a top-10 team in defensive efficiency in just five seasons. Since 2012-13, they’ve been no higher than 16th in the league. Another thing to consider is that the team has been in the top-10 in opponent points per game in just four seasons since 1999-00.

It’s easy to point out that in the Dirk Nowitzki era, defense simply hasn’t been a strength for the team. They were solid from 2005-07 when they were contenders and they were decent during the championship year in 2011, but every other season has been a struggle.

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However, let’s take the upcoming season into consideration.

The Mavs will still have Wesley Matthews and Justin Anderson on the team — arguably their two best defenders in 2015-16. But they also added Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut during the summer. Barnes, serving as a young player, has a solid, growing defensive game and Bogut has always been known as a great defender in the paint.

With that in mind, the team expects to be a much better on the defensive end of the court in 2016-17.

The Mavs recently held their media day and we got the chance to hear a few opinions on what next season could hold. Matthews–who is thought of as the best defender on the team–had this to say (via Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com):

"“On paper, we’re already better, but paper doesn’t really mean anything,” Matthews explained. “By their resumes and their track records, I’m confident that we’re going to be a better defensive team. But we’re still going to have to put the work in, and that’s got to be everybody — one through 15. But we’re in a good position, and we have the foundation to be a really good defensive team.”"

Bogut, the team’s newest starting center, explained how he’ll impact the team on the defensive end of the floor:

"“You know, just making sure that when guys come in that paint, especially early in games, I’m either contesting the shot, blocking the shot, taking a charge or fouling somebody.”"

Dirk Nowitzki also gave his thoughts on the team’s defense and added a touch of comedy that we’re used to hearing out of the Big German:

Let’s digest the team’s defensive options a little more.

We know their primary defenders come in the form of Matthews, Anderson, Barnes and Bogut. However, they also have Salah Mejri — the team’s 2015-16 leader in blocks — plus a bench full of players capable of playing solid defense, like Devin Harris and Quincy Acy.

Having more than just one defensive option against super teams like the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers is going to be huge and will help them avoid blowouts against some of the best.

The starting lineup of Williams, Matthews, Barnes, Nowitzki and Bogut should be pretty good defensively, but the lineup combinations that could be formed from the roster are very intriguing.

We know Rick Carlisle likes to go small. He did it late last season to help the Mavs stay afloat in the playoff race and he did it once the postseason came around.

Consider a lineup of Williams, Matthews, Anderson, Barnes and Bogut. Barnes is used to playing some power forward minutes with the Warriors as the team’s “Death Lineup” featured Draymond Green at center. Also, with a 6’8″ frame, Barnes more than capable of guarding other power forwards in the league.

The biggest key to the Mavs improving their defense is the fact that their lineup is full of flexible players. Matthews, Anderson and Barnes are all capable of guarding multiple positions. With Bogut guarding the paint, you’d just have to insert one of the team’s many point guards to have a complete lineup.

While it’s obvious that the team will be better defensively in 2015-16, it’s important to look at the big picture too and focus on both ends of the floor.

We know the Mavs will be good on offense. They’ve been top-10 in offensive efficiency in 12 of the past 14 seasons and never really have a problem scoring points.

Adding a possible top-10 defense into the mix could make the Mavs a very balanced team and make them more capable of hanging with the elite teams in the league. I’m not saying they would be instant contenders, but the thought of having strengths on both ends of the floor and not just one would make them an intriguing team to watch.

Must Read: Mavs' 2016-17 Season Outlook

While the Mavs may not be in the hunt for a championship, they made some key moves this summer that will help further balance their team. Watch for an improved defensive attack paired with their always dangerous offense, as the team looks to incorporate their newest players into their 2016-17 campaign.