Last year, the Dallas Mavericks finished the season with a disappointing 33-49 record.
Since 2000, the Mavericks have only missed the playoffs twice. The team missed the postseason during the 2012-13 season and last year. Long-time Maverick Dirk Nowitzki has been battling against Father Time as he enters his 20th season in the league.
In the last couple of seasons, Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle has been trying to figure out what’s next. As far as owner Mark Cuban goes, you already know what to expect.
Cuban enters every summer with the hopes of signing a big name free agent. In 2015, Cuban was a signature away from acquiring Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan. However, the center would change his mind and resign with the Clippers.
In 2016, the Mavs were able to sign Harrison Barnes to a four-year, $94M max deal that some still question to this day. Over the years, the team has signed Seth Curry, released Deron Williams, traded for Nerlens Noel and recently resigned him to a one-year deal.
The team also signed Yogi Ferrell, who provided a huge spark for the team despite an unfavorable season. With all that in mind, Cuban and the Mavs struck gold when they drafted Dennis Smith Jr. with the ninth pick in the 2017 draft.
Despite the past two years, the Mavericks have been slowly rebuilding their roster. Now the franchise may not make the playoffs for the next few years, but the pieces are falling into place.
Last year Barnes led the team with 19.2 points per game. The team as a whole averaged 97.9 points per game which is a 2.3 point difference from their championship team in 2011.
If the Mavericks are going to move forward and start to look at life past Nowitzki, they need to consider handing the reigns over to Smith Jr. Now the 6-foot-3 guard has only played in the summer league and in a few preseason games.
With four preseason games under his belt, Smith Jr. is averaging 11.5 points, three rebounds and three assists. Now some of you may say it is only preseason, but at least he is getting some bump against top competition.
When you think about it, the last four championship teams all had solid point guards. The last four champions included Steph Curry, Kyrie Irving and Tony Parker.
Dennis Smith Jr. isn’t going to simply take over the franchise. However, long-time Mav Nowitzki will probably take Smith Jr. under his wing and show him the ropes.
Some key players returning from last year include Nowitzki, Nerlens Noel, Yogi Ferrell, Seth Curry, Wesley Matthews, Harrison Barnes, Dwight Powell and J.J. Barea. Key departures include Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut.
This season, the Mavs have depth at point guard which is never a bad thing. Depending on Curry’s injury, the team may use multiple backcourt combinations to help relieve Matthews. Although this year’s team may lack experience, they should make up for it in team chemistry.
During the 2016-17 season only Barnes, Nowitzki, Matthews, Williams, Curry, Ferrell and Barea averaged more than 10 points per game. In order to compete in the West, the bench has to provide more points and instant offense.
In the 2015-16 season, the team averaged 102 points per game which is a four-point difference from last year’s average. During the 2015-16 season, the Mavs also had more production from their bench.
If Cuban wants to see his team compete for a spot in the playoffs, the coaching staff has to make sure that their players remain healthy. That is easier said than done, but management should consider bringing in a stretch guard or forward to help space the floor.
This season, Nowitzki will probably play fewer minutes. Last year, Dirk led the team with 6.5 rebounds while only playing 26 minutes per game. Mavericks fans should expect to see newly acquired forward Josh McRoberts and Powell step up in points, rebounds and blocks.
Both power forwards averaged above five points and three rebounds. With the possibility of Nowitzki retiring after this season, Carlisle needs to start looking for the team’s future.
Looking at Western Conference and the heightened level of competition, it’s unlikely that the team will make it into the playoffs. With the current roster, the future looks bright, but the team still needs to address the bench.
Throughout this season, Cuban needs to figure out who will take the reins. Do they need another superstar or do they build around Barnes?
Bold Prediction: The Dallas Mavericks will miss the playoffs by two games. Let us know what you think and how the Mavs will end the season.
Featured image taken by Awsocute
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