3 Teams That Could Keep Mavericks Out of Postseason Play


Mavericks: 3 young, up-and-coming teams that could push them for one of the final playoff spots

Despite a horrible, potentially crippling, first few days of the free agency period in early July the Dallas Mavericks have assembled a roster that, if healthy, could still contend for a spot in the western conference playoffs.

But as we all know, the western conference is no joke and while most of the rich got richer there are some up-and-coming squads that sat outside of postseason play who have improved and appear ready to move up, too.

Here are three teams the Mavericks will be battling it out with in the race for the playoffs.

Mar 3, 2015; Memphis, TN, USA; Utah Jazz center

Rudy Gobert

(27) celebrates with guard

Gordon Hayward

(20) after a score against the Memphis Grizzlies in the second half at FedExForum. Utah defeated Memphis 93-82. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Utah Jazz (38-44, 11th in West last season)

The Utah Jazz, despite losing Dante Exum to a torn ACL this summer, are poised for a jump in the standings. They were one of the best teams in the league after the All-Star break, going 19-10, by completely stifling opposing offenses.

In that post-break stretch the Jazz gave up 89.0 points a game and opponents shot a paltry 42.2% from the field. Center Rudy Gobert, now entering his third season in the NBA, was a big part of that. Once Enes Kanter left town Gobert saw an uptick in playing time and he made the most of it.

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In those 29 games following the festivities in New York City, Gobert averaged 11.1 points, 13.4 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks in 34.4 minutes a night. Three times he grabbed at least 20 rebounds or blocked at least five shots.

With another summer of work on the court under his belt, and what appears to be a whole lot of time in the weight room, Gobert could very well take another step in his progression this year and cement himself as one of the best centers in the league.

He’s already putting up DeAndre Jordan-type numbers, and unlike Jordan has actually improved his free throw shooting.

He and Derrick Favors compose one of the best young front courts in the league. Soon enough we’ll be removing the word “young” from that sentence, and when you add in borderline All-star Gordon Hayward the Jazz have a solid foundation for years to come.

They’ll push for a playoff spot this year, and could end up nabbing one at the Mavericks’ expense.

Apr 8, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Phoenix Suns guard

Eric Bledsoe

(2) during the game against the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center. The Mavericks defeated the Suns 107-104. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Phoenix Suns (39-43, 10th in West last season)

Another team that figures to be improved is the Phoenix Suns. Despite quite a bit of roster shuffling mid-season and some crushing defeats at the buzzer Jeff Hornacek‘s squad sat at 38-33 towards the end of the season before losing 10 of their last 11.

But they brought in former Maverick Tyson Chandler to provide the type of veteran leadership that can help plug the dike when the team is sliding, and bring the type of rim protection that Phoenix lacked outside of Alex Len.

The backcourt of Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe can be very good, too. Bledsoe was one of four players to average at least 17 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds in 2014-15, joining James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and LeBron James.

The bench will consist mostly of youngsters outside of stretch-big Mirza Teletovic and Sonny Weems, but very good youngsters. Len looked like a starting caliber center at times last season and with the logjam at small forward taken care of TJ Warren looks poised for a breakout sophomore campaign. Archie Goodwin keeps getting better, too.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens with disgruntled forward Markieff Morris, but either way the Suns will be contenders for one of the final playoff spots.

Jan 13, 2015; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings center

DeMarcus Cousins

(15) drives to the basket past Dallas Mavericks center Tyson Chandler (6) during the fourth quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Sacramento Kings 108-104. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Sacramento Kings (29-53, 13th in West last season)

This may be a bit of a stretch. They’re the Kings, after all, and with a massive roster overhaul a slow start could end up dooming them before the All-Star break even arrives.

But if George Karl can find the right rotations, DeMarcus Cousins stays healthy, and that piece of garbage Rajon Rondo plays better than he did with the Mavericks this team could be dangerous.

Rudy Gay is still a solid player, I’m a big fan of Marco Belinelli, and rookie Willie Cauley-Stein will make an impact on the defensive end from day one. Kosta Koufos is overpaid but another good big to have on the roster.

And then there’s Cousins, perhaps the best center in the game. You know how many players last season averaged over 24 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1.5 blocks a game? You guessed it, one.

Ben McLemore is the wildcard. He was a much more efficient player in Year 2 last season, and if he’s able to make another jump with his game could be that third scorer Sacramento needs to get back into postseason play.

Next: Inside the Mavericks' 67-Win Season

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