Age Isn’t Just a Number for the Dallas Mavericks
From the new rookie in Dennis Smith Jr. to the veteran in Dirk Nowitzki, age isn’t just a number for the Dallas Mavericks, it’s an asset.
On June 19, 2017, Dirk Nowitzki turned 39 years old.
On November 25, 2017, Dennis Smith Jr. will turn 20 years old.
A 19 year difference between one of the greatest players of all time and hopefully the new face of the Mavericks after Dirk hangs them up.
When the Mavericks suit up for their first game of the preseason in just a few short weeks, Smith Jr. will be suiting up alongside of Nowitzki in the starting unit, the same Nowitzki that made his Mavericks debut in 1999.
To some, age is just a number, but for the Dallas Mavericks, it’s an asset.
For years, the Dallas Mavericks were known as a veteran team that spent every offseason filling out the roster with aging veterans and players that had already hit the peak of their careers. They gave up draft positions and didn’t develop top-notch, young talent.
Now, things are a little different.
Last year, the Mavericks went out and signed the then 24-year-old Harrison Barnes to a max contract and proceeded to hand the 26-year-old Seth Curry a two-year deal.
Over the course of the season, the Mavericks brought in the 23-year-old Yogi Ferrell on a 10 day contract that eventually turned into a long-term contract and future piece of the puzzle.
At the trade deadline, they went after their next franchise center by trading for the 22-year-old Nerlens Noel from Philadelphia. Four months after that, they drafted the 19-year-old Dennis Smith Jr. with the 9th overall pick to be their starting point guard.
Over the course of 12 months, the Mavericks went from a very bleak future after Dirk to giving fans something to be excited about for the future.
But they didn’t hit the full reset button.
Sometimes teams throughout the league realize they need to get younger and fill their roster with draft picks and young flyers. In theory, it is great for the future, but in the short-term, the younger players aren’t getting the veteran leadership they desperately need.
When Nerlens Noel was first brought over to Dallas, he specifically mentioned how excited he was to play with veterans because he never had that in Philadelphia. The Sixers are just one example of a young team that didn’t put the adequate veterans around their young assets.
In Dallas, they strike the perfect balance. For every young, cornerstone piece they have on the roster, they have a vet that can come right alongside of him.
Dirk Nowitzki enters his 20th season at 39 years old. Devin Harris enters his 14th season at 34 years old while J.J. Barea is right behind him entering his 12th season at 33 years old. Then you have Salah Majri at 31 years old and both Wesley Matthews and Josh McRoberts at 30 years old.
Of the projected 15 man roster, six of them will be over 30 years old while the other nine of them being 27 years old or younger. Of those nine, five of them will be 25 years old or younger and will have major roles on the team with three of them in the starting lineup.
The Mavericks rebuilt for the future without leaving the young pieces out to dry. They brought in their new young pups of the future, but have strategically placed grown wolves around them to help guide the way.
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Not only do they have the veterans on the roster to help guide the way, but they have veterans that cover each of the positions. Nowitzki is your vet in the front court while the young pups in the back court have Barea and Harris.
Every direction of being a professional athlete a young player on the Mavericks turns, they have a veteran presence there to help show them the way.
And this is one of Dallas’ most underrated assets.
They might not win 50 games this year or make a deep run in the playoffs, but the Mavericks have balanced their roster with young building blocks and veterans in a way that will reap harvest down the road.
Next: Dirk Nowitzki's Tennis Classic Raises Funds for Hurricane Harvey Victims
A harvest that will be fun to watch and write about for many years.