Five reasons to be excited about the Mavericks
By Rami Michail
Guest Post by Justin Becker
Editor’s Note: Justin Becker if part with FantasyBasketballMoneyLeagues.com. You can follow him on twitter @NBAandNFLInfo or on the Fantasy Basketball Money Leagues Google+ Page, and for more NBA basketball news and rumors visit Fantasy Basketball Money Leagues – a fantasy basketball blog.
With their moves over the summer, the Dallas Mavericks moved up as one of the top contenders for the NBA title this coming season. The good reviews that they’ve gotten have given them and their supporters plenty of reason to be excited about this season.
So without further adieu, here are the top 5 reasons to be excited for the 2014-15 Dallas Mavericks season:
The Time to Win is Now
There is no more tomorrow for the Dirk Nowitzki era.
Dirk is 36-years old and entering his 16th NBA season. Instead of signing a maximum contract to carry with him to Germany when he retires, Nowitzki re-signed with the Mavs for a “bargain” deal so that management could surround him with the talent that he needs to contend for the NBA title once again.
The Dallas Mavericks were the only team to really challenge the Spurs last season. They took the eventual champs to the seven game limit in the first round of the playoffs. Despite being just the 8th seed, the Mavericks were a win short of another 50-win season, despite having a veteran line-up that many said had their window of opportunity slowly closing in on them.
After the offseason, that window has been more open than ever, and it all started with Dirk Nowitzki’s commitment to win. Nowitzki said this to ESPN.com on June 6, 2013:
“I’ve always said that (Mark) Cuban has taken care of me for a long, long time. Money isn’t something I play for. I want to compete. I want to win. We’ll play this year and hopefully have a great team and then I’ll come off the books. Then, we can all sit together again and see how many guys we can get and who is out there.”
Well said big guy! How many players did they get in the offseason? Enough to put them in perhaps the top five teams in the NBA, and even more importantly, enough to possibly make them beat the Spurs in a Game 7, should that happen once again.
Coach Rick Carlisle said this, via ESPN.com on September 24, 2014:
“‘We think this team can be special,’ Carlisle said, adding that he’s never seen this level of activity and energy in the building at this point of the year.’”
Let the Blitzkrieg begin.
Bringing Back Tyson Chandler
Defense and rebounding are two crucial factors in winning the NBA title. Those were the 2013-14 Mavericks’ top weaknesses last season. Dallas was ranked 26th in the league in rebounding at 40.9 per game last season, 22nd in defensive rating by giving up 105.9 points per game, and 20th in opponent points allowed at 102.4 points per game.
Needing a defensive upgrade, the Mavs got one by turning back the hands of time and bringing back the heart and soul of their 2011 championship team: Tyson Chandler. According to Rick Carlisle, via BleacherReport.com on September 10, 2014:
“‘In terms of a team defender, it doesn’t get much better. He covers up a lot of sins out there in terms of guys getting beat and what-not,’ Nelson said. ‘He’s really a perfect track mate in a lot of respects for Dirk [Nowitzki] and everyone across the board has become a better defender on the floor with the acquisition of Tyson. The coaching staff has gotten better and the management staff has certainly gotten a lot smarter.’”
Making everybody else better is a trait of good leaders. Perhaps more than Chandler’s defense, the Mavs have missed his voice and his leadership. Now that he’s back, it would be exciting to see these Mavericks play with more fire in 2014-15.
The $46 Million Man
With all the money Dirk Nowitzki left on the table, the Mavs were in a position to sign a maximum free agent during the summer. That being said, the Mavs gave the money to one of the most versatile young men in the NBA today: Chandler Parsons.
Parsons’ versatility is All-Star caliber. He was one of four players last season to average at least 16 points, five rebounds and four assists while shooting 45% from the field. The other three were LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kevin Love. Now that’s great company for this 25-year old swingman who is looking forward to the new challenge in Dallas next season.
As Chandler Parsons’ said, via ESPN.com on September 29, 2014:
“‘I’ve always been a team guy, and I’m not trying to come here and get mine and be the go-to guy necessarily,’ Parsons said. ‘I’m going to do whatever it takes for our team to win as many games as possible.’”
Parsons’ versatility is one that Dallas never had in the past. It will be exciting to watch him grow with this veteran squad and see how far it will take them up the glory road.
According to SixthManJournal.com on June 25, 2014:
“The team’s best asset is the ability to not only score the ball, but do so in an efficient manner. The Mavericks scored the 8th most points per game, with the 3rd best efficiency. They were also 2nd best in 3-point efficiency and 3rd best from the free throw line. The veterans were able to take care of the ball, leading Dallas to the 5th best mark in own turnovers per game.”
As we said earlier, it was defense that plagued the Mavericks last season. The offense ran like a well-oiled machine from start to finish. For the first time, Dirk had a scorer like Monta Ellis by his side. Of course, the rest of the team provided additional offense, but the Nowitzki-Ellis tandem was the top scoring duo for the Mavericks.
Now Dallas has added so much more. So much, in fact, that the ever outspoken Mark Cuban had the bravado to say this to ESPN.com on September 24, 2014:
“‘I’m not expecting anyone on our team to be a 20-point scorer,’ Mavs owner Mark Cuban said. ‘Not Dirk. I don’t want him to be a 20-point scorer. Seriously. Monta [Ellis] has that capability, Chandler [Parsons] has that capability, Dirk has that capability, Richard Jefferson’s got that capability. Jameer [Nelson] could do 15, Raymond Felton could do 15 if that was the focus. But that’s not our focus. That’s the cool thing. There’s going to be times that we overpass. I think that’ll be one of the challenges that [coach] Rick [Carlisle] has, that some of the guys are too unselfish.’”
If there’s any flaw in this offense, it could be too much unselfishness. Other than that, we can’t wait to watch this team shoot the lights out next season.
A Budding Rivalry Against the Houston Rockets
November 22, January 28, February 20 and April 2. Those are the four regular season meetings between the Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets.
If the war between Mavs owner Mark Cuban and Rockets GM Daryl Morey escalates, those could be the four most highly contested games of Dallas’ season.
Even if their word war doesn’t escalate, Mark Cuban has already picked a fight. According to ESPN.com on September 29, 2014:
“Cuban claims that Morey ‘kind of got it started’ when he sent a text inquiring about Dirk Nowitzki’s availability in a trade after Howard’s decision, which Cuban took as a taunt. Cuban also didn’t appreciate Morey’s statement after Chandler Parsons’ departure to Dallas this summer that the Rockets would prefer to develop players of that caliber than sign them to rich contracts.”
Their most recent quarrel has been about “team chemistry.” Who knows what could be their next battle point. Mark Cuban loves the attention, and picking fights are his comfort zone. If Morey takes Mark Cuban too seriously, this verbal battle between Cuban and Morey will ignite the fire for this potential rivalry.
These five points should be more than enough reason to get excited about the Dallas Mavericks’ 2014-15 NBA season. The NBA season opens on October 28, and all of us can no longer wait.