In a NBA Free Agency of big moves, the Dallas Mavericks are being praised for their smorgasbord of agent signings that give them the depth required of championship contenders. Thing is, this team is far from being one capable of outboxing the league’s superteams.
As the Western Conference’s No. 8 seed, the Mavericks far exceeded expectations and expert opinions by hotly contesting the San Antonio Spurs in a seven-game opening round. Since then, every free agent pickup has convinced the general public that the Mavs are on track to make up for the deficiencies that kept them one game away from pulling a 2011 Memphis Grizzlies.
They’ve convinced veteran Jameer Nelson to be one component of their three-headed point guard project. They brought back 2011 Mavs champ Tyson Chandler. They beat Houston in a game of chicken involving Chandler Parsons‘ big boy contract. For some reason, they’re confident Raymond Felton can work out for them (when Felton doesn’t work out a day in his life). Richard Jefferson and Al-Farouq Aminu can help where used appropriately. (Of course, none of this would have been possible without a certain superstar taking less than his market value to remain a Mav.)
The Mavs are better than they were last season but didn’t improve from a process of addition alone. They lost major contributors in the process. Samuel Dalembert, Jose Calderon, Vince Carter, DeJuan Blair, and seemingly Shawn Marion won’t be coming back. A number of them helped Dallas snag a couple of games from the Spurs last playoffs. It can rightly be argued that the Mavericks improved across all positions, except maybe PG, but essentially not enough to cover the gaping holes they had last season at defense and rebounding.
Not even a fully revitalized Chandler is going to help them climb all the way out of sewer that is 26th overall in total rebounds per game. Some of their expected rivals out west (OKC, Houston, and Memphis), meanwhile, were three out of the four top teams when it came to rebounding percentage. In fact, only the Los Angeles Lakers posted a worse rebounding percentage (45.6) than the Mavs did (48.8) last season. 2010-2014 Miami were able to succeed despite their rebounding issues but this team is no Miami.
For as good as Monta Ellis was for them last season, pairing him with an assortment of Nelson and Felton isn’t going to go over too well in a conference that consists of backcourts involving Lillard-Matthews, Westbrook-Jackson, Curry-Thompson, Paul-Crawford, etc. The Mavs were able to make up for a backcourt of Ellis-Calderon through the efforts of Shawn Marion, who though much removed from his best years as a defender, still logged a higher defensive win share rating (2.1) than a 23-year-old Aminu (1.8) did last season. In fact, Aminu’s defense might be a bit oversold as he’s never posted anything under three digits and has always scored a higher number on defense (106) than on offense (99).
The Mavs, along with every Western Conference team at the top of the stack, are viable candidates for a top playoff performance, especially when Cinderella runs are involved. But, it’s doubtful they’re built for anything more this season than a second round showing.
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