Dominique Jones and Rodrique Beaubois led the Mavs with 17 points each. With a shorter season, and more games with little rest, these two young men will be counted upon to make significant contributions at some point this year. There could be a time when Jason Kidd needs a day off or an injury may pop up. This is a veteran team and injuries are more likely with little time off between games. One of Rick Carlisle’s biggest challenges this season will be making sure that his veterans are able to get enough rest to survive the season.
Jones and Beaubois will both play an important role in the success of any strategy. Jason Kidd is almost 40. Vince Carter is 34. Jason Terry is no spring chicken either. It looks highly unlikely that DeShawn Stevenson is coming back. This is the year where the Mavs will see if Beaubois and Jones can step up or whether it may be time to cut their losses and move in a different direction.
Both players are young and athletic. Both have shown flashes of their vast potential. But far too often there has been inconsistency, poor decision-making, foul trouble, and injuries. Neither player is going to have the pressure of having to be “the guy”. They should be able to get playing time with little pressure. All they need to do is go out and play and show that they have made some progress. Can they? It appears that Rick Carlisle intends to find out while attempting to save his veterans for the start of the season.
Will the team be ready for it’s Finals re-match against the Miami Heat? Time will tell. It will be interesting to see what Carlisle and his staff have planned. Who will start at small forward: Shawn Marion or Lamar Odom? How big of a role with Brandon Wright play? How much will Jason Kidd play early in the season? Will Delonte West fit into the flow of the offense? How much does Vince Carter have left? Will the team be rusty? Will they play with the same fire and intensity now that they have finally won the big one?
This is still a very talented team, although there have been significant changes. The rest of the Western Conference seems to be in for a down year. The Lakers had needs that had to be addressed. All they did was trade away Odom after the Chris Paul trade fell through. The Nuggets are deep but they lack a superstar to lead the way. The Clippers added Chris Paul but traded away some very good young players to get him. The Spurs are another year older and have made no significant players. The biggest threat in the West to dethrone the Mavs are their opponents tonight: the Thunder. They are young, talented, and improving. They have the same team coming back so they have familiarity and continuity that the Mavs lack. And they remember how close they came last season.
We will begin to get some of these answers on Christmas day. The Mavs have the talent to win it all again. They still have Dirk Nowitzki and this team can score with anybody. How well this team can gel, play defense, and stay healthy. They will need Beaubois and Jones at some point if they are going to achieve these goals. Will they be ready?