Dallas Mavericks: Increased Toughness Opens Up A New Playing Style

Oct 11, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks center Andrew Bogut (6) and guard Justin Anderson (1) celebrate a defensive stop against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the first half at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 11, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks center Andrew Bogut (6) and guard Justin Anderson (1) celebrate a defensive stop against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the first half at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

With more toughness injected into the roster, the Dallas Mavericks now have multiple playing styles to use when faced with different types of teams.

For the Dallas Mavericks, this past summer was all about addressing weaknesses. They managed to bring in younger players, which was something they had lacked in previous seasons, and they received more outside shooting by signing Seth Curry.

But perhaps their biggest and best moves came in the form of defense and toughness.

These are two things that the Mavs definitely had legitimate players for in 2015-16. Wesley Matthews and Justin Anderson helped them late in the season, while Devin Harris and J.J. Barea did a great job of taking charges. However, they were still in need of some help.

They attacked that category by trading for center Andrew Bogut and signing forward Quincy Acy, while re-signing Dwight Powell.

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Bogut, who is known for his physical play in the paint, came over in an offseason trade as the Golden State Warriors needed more space to sign Kevin Durant, while Acy signed a deal with the Mavs after spending the first five seasons of his career with three different teams.

Now, if you take a step back and look at the roster in Dallas, it’s obvious that they are a much more physically imposing team, with more strength spread throughout the lineup.

The Mavs plan on having a solid defense in the upcoming season, but they have a few different tiers they can work with. First up are Harris and Barea, who aren’t exactly the best defenders, but play a peskier style of defense to create turnovers.

Next up are the guard/forward combos of Wesley Matthews, Justin Anderson and Harrison Barnes. Rick Carlisle had this to say on how the team can use these pieces to their advantage (via Mavs.com):

"“Barnes and Matthews give us two high-level perimeter defenders at the two and three. And then when we bump Barnes to four, he can guard fours and Wes can guard threes. It just gives us more flexibility, more versatility, and I think it’s going to give us an opportunity to do some more things with switching and things like that.”"

These three players are expected to be the core of the Mavs defense in the upcoming season. They’re all strong and they can all play multiple positions with key contributions on both ends of the floor.

Whether it’s Matthews’ hard-nosed defending, Anderson’s ability to drive the lane and grab physical rebounds or Barnes’ getting into the paint, they each share characteristics that the Mavs have been in desperate need of. We’ll likely see them all appear on the court together at times throughout the season.

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The final level of defense for the team comes in the form of Andrew Bogut and Dwight Powell. We know that Bogut plays physical defense in the paint and isn’t afraid to take a hard foul if he has to. On the other side of things, Powell has put on more muscle each season he’s been with the team and definitely looks like one of the most physically fit players on the roster.

You could probably add Quincy Acy to this group as well since he’ll likely get minutes at the power forward position. Acy reminds me a lot of Al-Farouq Aminu in the sense that he has a game inside and outside of the paint. He’s already gotten into it with players in preseason play this year.

With a more well-rounded group of physical players, the Mavs have the ability to compete with teams like the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies, who are known for their rough playing styles.

But while toughness is often associated with the defensive end of the court, the Mavs can use their big bodies on the offensive end as well.

Of course there’s Bogut and Powell to operate in the lane, but the Mavs are going to rely on players like Matthews and Barnes to back up Dirk Nowitzki in scoring this season. Barnes has always been known as a player that likes to get into the paint, but Matthews has a different situation.

Because of his recovery from a torn ACL, he missed the entire 2015 summer and didn’t get to regroup and get ready for the season. As a result, we didn’t see much of his interior play. This year, however, he’s had the necessary time to put into his game and will likely become a different presence inside the lane, whether it’s driving for hard layups or kicking out to open defenders–something he did a lot of with the Portland Trail Blazers.

By considering the toughness the team has on both ends of the floor, it’s obvious that they’ll have a new style they can use in the upcoming season.

For the first time in a while, the Mavs will have the ability to play one of those grind-it-out types of games where defense is the main story and play inside the paint dictates success on both ends of the floor.

Though they’ve tried to use that style of play in previous seasons, they’ve lacked the physicality and toughness to make their game effective. Now, they’ll enter the season with a much more gritty defense and physical players at basically every position on the roster.

In fact, you could think about putting a lineup of Devin Harris, Wesley Matthews, Justin Anderson, Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut on the floor. That would provide legitimate toughness at each position and would allow the team to slow things down a bit and work on wearing out their opponent.

At times last season, you could just tell that the team was getting bullied in specific areas, but they now have the pieces to counter things like that.

To sum it up, it’s not only the fact that the Mavs can play multiple styles as a team, they have a perfect balance of athleticism and physical nature that will allow them to hang around with different kinds of teams.

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While there’s much more than just playing tough that goes into winning a game, the Mavs certainly have a new edge to their team that we’ll see a lot of in the upcoming season.