With the start of the 2013-14 NBA season rapidly approaching, we thought it only fair to share what makes each team so exciting. Ontologically speaking, all 30 teams deserve our eyeballs this season. Even disastrous lineups still present oodles of plays, personalities, highlights and headaches. Here are five things to keep in mind for each team before flipping the channel.
Next up, an aging Mavs team with two new additions to buttress star Dirk Nowitzki in the twilight of his career.
[5 Reasons To Watch: Kings, Lakers, Knicks, 76ers, Bobcats, Cavs, Magic, Warriors, Timberwolves, Nuggets, Clippers, Clippers, Rockets, Bulls, Pistons, Bucks, Nets, Pacers, Wizards, Thunder, Heat, Mavericks, Celtics, Raptors Hawks, Spurs, Trail Blazers, Grizzlies, Suns, Jazz]
The mood in Dallas has not been a good one as of late. After watching their 2011 championship team become a distant memory, the Mavericks have been plagued with injuries and built around a team with short-term deals. The original plan was load up on smaller contracts, so they had the cap space to make a run at Dwight Howard and Chris Paul. Mark Cuban‘s plan didn’t go according to plan as Chris Paul stayed in Los Angeles and Dwight Howard went to the Rockets. The Maverick’s offseason was not a total sham, though. They managed to acquire some nice pieces to compliment Dirk Nowitzki.
Lets take a look at what Dallas did this offseason.
Acquired: Monta Ellis, Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Devin Harris and Wayne Ellington. Also drafted Shane Larkin and Ricky Ledo.
Lost: Elton Brand, Darren Collision, Chris Kaman, O.J. Mayo, Anthony Morrow, Roddy Beaubois, Jared Cunningham and Mike James.
A major concern for Dallas this season is their defense; it is no secret Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis are not the most sound defenders in the league. If Dallas cannot stop elite Western Conference wings from penetrating and getting to the basket, they are going to find themselves trailing in a lot of games this season.
On paper, this roster does not look imposing, or like much of a playoff contender. I am here to tell NBA fans the Mavericks can make a run for a lower seed in the playoffs this season. Dirk Nowitzki is coming back in great shape and injury-free; he is now more than capable of leading this team to the same heights as past glory. His leadership is going to play a major role in the development of the team’s core. Dirk is still a top talent in this league, and that’s a positive sign for the Dallas Mavericks going forward.
Here are the top 5 reasons why NBA fans need to watch the Mavericks this season:
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Wayne Ellington Steps Up
Not a lot of talk surrounds the 5-year shooting guard, Wayne Ellington. He is an underrated offensive weapon, and Dallas will look to him to contribute on both sides of the floor with the second unit this season. In a short stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Ellington showed that he has a feel for the game. He has great shooting mechanics, which means he’s able to hit shots from anywhere on the floor in a variety of situations. Ellington is going to need to come ready on the defensive end because the coaching staff is ready to give Ellington an increased role as long as he buys in to Carlisle’s defense-first philosophy.
The Addition of DeJuan Blair
I know this might give some pause, but allow me to explain. Adding a physical player such as DeJuan Blair helps because the Mavericks are going to struggle this year without an interior presence. With a roster consisting of big-men, Samuel Dalembert (can’t stay healthy), Bernard James, Brandon Wright and Dirk, rebounding and physicality are a major hole in this team’s makeup. A brolic, beefy inside presence is necessary. Dallas stole DeJuan from the Spurs for the veteran minimum; consider that a win-win situation for Dallas because he came so cheap. Expect Blair to contribute on the offensive and defensive glass right away.
Jose Calderon & Monta Ellis
Jose Calderon has one of the best assist-to-turnover ratios in the NBA. His ability to create easy offense for his teammates is something special. He’s almost automatic from the free throw line, which is an attribute most teams in the NBA desire from their guards. So Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks have won in that regard. Bringing in Monta Ellis also brings another volume scorer to compliment Dirk. The question marks surrounding these two are their lack of defensive play. If these two can improve on the defensive side of the ball, it will drastically improve Dallas’ chances to win closer games where they need stops on the perimeter. I see more pros than cons with adding these two guards. Ellis can put up points fast, and Calderon is capable of getting Dirk the ball where he needs it.
Rick Carlisle’s Premier Coaching
Rick Carlisle is one the league’s best coaches. His stock has recently dropped due to Dallas’ back-to-back disappointing seasons, though. One positive takeaway from last season is Carlisle had a less-than-stellar Mavericks team in the playoff conversation. With Dirk missing the first 27 games of the season, and Carlisle working with talent such as, Darren Collision, Mike James and an aging Vince Carter, it’s important to place Carlisle’s body of work last season in the proper perspective. Expect a better Dallas team this year. Coach Carlisle will have a healthy superstar in Dirk and some reliable offensive weapons to work with on the perimeter. Now if only he can convince Monta and Calderon to play some defense, we won’t have to worry about his health.
Dirk Nowitzki’s Resurgence
Dirk Nowitzki is coming back this NBA season at full health. The 35-year-old is an 11-time All-Star is still a top-20 talent in the Association. I am predicting a monster year for Dirk. He has made it a habit over the course of his career to perform excellently with a less-than-impressive team. Looking at his body of work last season, and putting it into context, Dirk had an above average year after returning from injury and playing in just 53 games. He kept Dallas in the playoff conversation behind his 17.3 points PPG on 47 percent shooting. The future Hall of Fame inductee will come ready to play this year, and he will again keep Dallas in the mix again.
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The Dallas Mavericks can contend in the bottom 8 of the Western Conference. The pieces must come ready to play, and the perimeter defense has to show up this year. A combination of Rick Carlisle and Dirk Nowitzki is a great start; adding Calderon and Ellis this offseason gives them a little extra. After looking at the roster top-to-bottom and surveying the rest of the conference, I have come to the conclusion that the Dallas Mavericks will squeeze into the postseason as the 8 or 7 seed.
What do you think?
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