After a thrilling offseason, where the Mavs reshaped their squad with a bevy of new additions, the pieces will begin to take shape during training camp and preseason. Dallas begins training camp on September 27, followed by preseason action, beginning on October 5.
The Mavs travel to Abu Dhabi to take on the Minnesota Timberwolves in a two-part international series. Rather than competing against the T'Wolves just once, the Mavs will square off against Minnesota twice, with the second game played on October 7.
Next, Dallas travels to Spain to take Luka Doncic's old squad, Real Madrid, on October 10th. Finally, the Mavs head back to Dallas to take on the Pistons on October 20.
During training camp and the preseason, the Mavs coaches will closely analyze how the new additions fit together. The Mavs only returned four players who played in more than 1,000 minutes a season ago.
Although the Mavs return nine players, two came over via a midseason trade, Kyrie Irving and Markieff Morris, one played in less than half the games, Maxi Kleber, and the remaining two, Jaden Hardy and A.J. Lawson, suited up for Dallas for their first time in their young careers.
Dallas will employ new faces at center, forward, and guard. With all the new pieces in town, there will surely be more questions than answers. Going into training camp, the Mavs must sort out five different issues that plagued the franchise a year ago.
5. Who will start at center and what does the depth behind the starter look like?
Seemingly an age-old question in Dallas. The Mavericks haven't had a starting-caliber center since Tyson Chandler manned the middle in 2015. Dallas has tried multiple different starters from 2015 and on.
Zaza Pachulia, Nerlens Noel, DeAndre Jordan, Willie Cauley-Stein, Kristaps Porzingis, Christian Wood, JaVale McGee, and returning starter Dwight Powell have all been trotted out at the five, albeit with little success.
Powell has been a reliable asset for years, but he does not project as a starting-caliber center on a playoff team. The Canadian big does a lot of the little things well. He sets great picks, does a nice job as a roller, hustles for loose balls, and will take a charge or try to contest a shot at the rim.
However, Powell doesn't stretch the floor, rebound well for a big, block shots, or provide any type of offense besides a dunk or putback. His best role is suited as an energizer off the bench.
Here comes the 12th overall selection, Dereck Lively II. The Mavs selected the uber-athletic Lively II out of Duke as their top choice in the draft. Although Lively II is a relatively raw prospect who only averaged 20.4 minutes per game at Duke, he projects as the future starter in Dallas.
The former Blue Devil may not begin the year manning the middle, but if his development appears to be ahead of schedule, Dallas should trot out the 7-foot-1 center whenever he's deemed ready for the NBA.
Additionally, the Mavs acquired former Sacramento Kings big man, Richaun Holmes, on draft night. Holmes appeared to be a quality starting center in the NBA just two seasons ago, before the Kings traded for All-Star big man, Domantas Sabonis.
At his peak, Holmes averaged 14.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game. If Holmes can regain his 2020-21 season form, he'll surely be worthy of starting at the five spot for the Mavs.
If one to guess, Powell would likely start, with Holmes and Lively II vying for minutes off the bench. Forward Maxi Kleber will also likely log time at center, with Williams possibly receiving some minutes at the five, likely in crunch time.
To prepare for the future, the Mavs must prioritize Lively II's time on the floor. As soon as Lively II steps on the floor, he'll be a fantastic rollman, rebounder, and shot-blocker. Something the Mavs have been in search of since Chandler.