1. How can the defense and rebounding improve?
The final and most broad question on the list: how can the porous defense from a season ago improve?
The Mavs fielded a bottom-10 defensive unit a season ago. They ranked 24th in defensive rating, which took a toll on the offense. The Mavs averaged 114.2 points per game but allowed 114.1 points per game in return.
Just a season prior in 2021-22, the Mavs recorded a plus-3.3 plus/minus. And Dallas ranked seventh in the association with a plus-3.4 net rating. The offense improved in 2022-23, but the defense took such a massive step back that the team suffered.
Going into the offseason, General Manager Nico Harrison emphasized the need for defense and rebounding to surround offensive stars Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving. Following the numerous moves made throughout the offseason, Dallas might have done enough to improve on the less glamorous end. But, time will tell.
Aside from an uninspiring defense, the Mavs were the NBA's worst rebounders. Dallas finished as the only team to record less than 40 rebounds per game. And, Dallas wasn't just bad on one end or the other. The Mavs finished bottom-5 in both offensive and defensive rebounding.
Dallas may have done enough to address the defensive concerns, but rebounding may be a different story. The Mavs return their top rebounder, Luka Doncic, but lack another big who can rebound. Starting center Dwight Powell only holds a career average of 4.5 rebounds per game.
Once again, rebounding will likely be a collective team effort. But the Mavs did spend their top draft choice on Dereck Lively II. As was previously mentioned, Lively II likely won't start, nor play many minutes from the get-go
But, Lively II is oozing with potential, especially as a rebounder. In his lone season in Durham, Lively II averaged 10.5 rebounds per 40 minutes. Bringing Lively II and Richaun Holmes off the bench should help them in that department. The former Kings big averages 5.4 rebounds per game during his career. In his best seasons, 2019-to-2021, Holmes averaged 8.2 boards per game.
If the Mavs continue to struggle on the glass, look for Jason Kidd to make adjustments. Including Lively II or Holmes in the starting lineup, especially if rebounding or defense holds the Mavs back from becoming a top team in the Western Conference.