After years of offensive fireworks and defensive breakdowns, the Dallas Mavericks may finally be changing their philosophy to suit a more defensive, physical team this coming season.
For the first time in years, the Mavericks might be able to defend against opposing offenses at a high level consistently. There were a few signs this past season that the Mavs were headed in that direction, as Wesley Matthews and Zaza Pachulia formed a decent defensive game, but it was clear that the Mavs had no answer for the combination of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in the first round of the playoffs.
This time around, the Mavs may be able to keep opposing team’s point totals relatively low.
The arrival of Harrison Barnes helps Dallas’ cause dramatically. Wesley Matthews was frequently asked to check the opposing team’s best scorer every single night, and the wear and tear of that, as well as leading the team in minutes, was glaring towards the end of his first year since his devastating Achilles tear.
Barnes will give Rick Carlisle another capable perimeter defender who possesses untapped athleticism and most importantly, youth. The Mavs have slowly accumulated a decent supply of young, developmental assets to bank on for the future, and Barnes is without question the biggest example of the youth movement.
The retention of Deron Williams shouldn’t be overlooked either. While D-Will isn’t half the offensive machine he once was, he still possesses the raw ability and size to be a legitimate scoring threat in the Mavs offense. That same size is what has enabled him to be a decent defender over the course of his career, and with minimal defensive responsibility this year considering the aforementioned Matthews and Barnes, Williams may be able to supply a little extra boost on the defensive end.
The biggest difference in this year’s team and last year’s, is without question the center position. Andrew Bogut is an extremely underrated shot blocker who has been a member of the All- Defensive second team as well as a former All-NBA third teamer. Dallas sorely needed a rebounding, shot-blocking center who could bring physicality to the paint this past season.
The combination of Wesley Matthews being healthier, Harrison Barnes jumping into a larger role, and Andrew Bogut policing the paint makes this Mavs team significantly tougher, and stingier defensively.
While the Mavs may be a subpar team offensively, their defensive abilities may be able to make up for some of those offensive deficiencies. As Mavs fans do every year, we can all put our faith in head coach mastermind, Rick Carlisle.