Dallas Mavericks Team Preview 2010-2011
By Eric Yearian
Veteran point guard? Check. MVP caliber star player? Check. Depth inside? Check. Perimeter scoring threat? Double check. The Mavericks have all the pieces in place to be contenders for the NBA Championship. Dallas owner Mark Cuban believes the Mavericks should be the favorites to win the west this season. Cuban is not hesitant to tell anybody that will listen that the Mavs have “the size…we’ve got the depth. We’ve got a lot more depth than the Lakers, it’s not even close there.”
The Lakers are looking for a three-peat, so it may not be wise to call them out, but the Mavericks arguably have a better shot than anyone else in the conference to overcome them. This offseason the Mavericks looked to improve their inside depth. They resigned Brendan Haywood, acquired Tyson Chandler (who spent his summer winning a gold medal with Team USA), and acquired project big men Alexis Ajinca and Ian Mahinmi. They also added rookie [player Dominique Jones] from South Florida.
It’s easy to point out Jason Kidd’s age when looking for a reason the Mavericks may come up short this season. However, the team has two young guards backing him up in Jose Juan Barea and Roddy Beaubois, an up-and-coming player who scored 40 points in a game last season. The Mavs are looking to limit Kidd’s minutes in order to keep him fresh for the playoffs while getting Beaubois more minutes. Beaubois may start the season off slowly as he recovers from a broken foot, but even if he does, Jason Terry is capable of playing the point if needed. Last season, Atlanta’s Jamal Crawford won the NBA Sixth Man award, unseating Terry. This season, Terry says he is motivated to regain the award, and that has to be viewed as a positive for the Mavericks.
Joining Kidd in the starting lineup will likely be Caron Butler, an accomplished, albeit inconsistent, scorer and the do everything forward Shawn Marion. Butler and Marion are an interesting tandem for the Mavs, as they both are capable of scoring 20 or more points on any given night, but may follow it up by going 2 for 9 from the field in the next game. If they play consistently well this season, it may be enough for the Mavs to push the Lakers for the best record in the conference.
All of this is ignoring what really makes the Mavs go, and their main reason for being considered contenders: Dirk Nowitzki. As great as Nowitzki is, it seems as though people forget that he led the Mavs to the Finals in 2006, where he lost only because of an other-worldly performance by Dwayne Wade. It would be easy to argue that this year’s squad is better than the one that won 60 games and lost to Miami in those finals. It’s also easy to forget that the last man not named LeBron or Kobe to win the MVP award was none other than Nowitzki. That was no aberration, he finished in the top ten in MVP voting two of the past three years, finishing 11th the other year. The German, 7 foot forward averaged 25 points per game last season, while shooting a career best 42 percent from three point land. Nowitzki is 32 years old, meaning that he is beginning to hear whispers about the window for him to lead a team to the title is about to close. He re-signed with the Mavericks this offseason without considering any other teams (although a German magazine reported Nowitzki would have considered heading to Miami, had LeBron and Wade recruited him over Chris Bosh), showing his determination to lead the Mavs to the promised land. With Dirk feeling pressure to win now, before Kidd hangs up his sneakers, the Mavericks will have the requisite urgency that the team will need to compete for a championship now.
The Mavericks probably pose the biggest threat to Los Angeles’ strangle hold on the conference. If Butler and Marion play well, and Nowitzki challenges for MVP as I expect he will (although Kevin Durant should be able to hold him off), then the Mavericks will have a legitimate chance at playing for a championship this season. As if all this isn’t enough, the Mavericks, especially Nowitzki will have a little extra incentive to make it to the Finals: 5 seasons ago the HEAT upset the Mavs for the championship, and with the HEAT strong contenders in the east, the Mavericks would love nothing more than to upset the HEAT for Dallas’ first NBA Championship.
Predicted Record: 59-23 (Last year’s record: 55-27)
Expected Team Roster
Name Height Weight School
PG: Jason Kidd 6-4 210 California
SG: Caron Butler 6-7 228 Connecticut
SF: Shawn Marion 6-7 228 UNLV
PF: Dirk Nowitzki 7-0 245 Germany
C: Brendan Haywood 7-0 263 N. Carolina
6: Jason Terry 6-2 180 Arizona
7: Tyson Chandler 7-1 235 Dominguez (Ca.) HS
8.: Rodrigue Beaubois 6-0 170 France
9: Jose Juan Barea 6-0 175 Northeastern
10: Dominique Jones 6-4 215 South Florida
11: Ian Mahinmi 6-11 230 France
12: DeShawn Stevenson 6-5 218 Washington Union (Ca.) HS
13: Alexis Ajinca 7-0 220 France
14: Brian Cardinal 6-8 245 Purdue