Nov 21, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks forwardDirk Nowitzki
(41) and forwardChandler Parsons
(25) and centerTyson Chandler
(6) celebrate during the second half against the Los Angeles Lakers at the American Airlines Center. The Mavericks defeated the Lakers 140-106. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
With all the Western Conference buzz around the Memphis Grizzlies and Houston Rockets, we shouldn’t sleep on the Dallas Mavericks
More from Sir Charles In Charge
- LeBron James working to assemble super team for USA Basketball in 2024
- Dillon Brooks proved his value to Houston Rockets in the 2023 FIBA World Cup
- NBA Trade Rumors: 1 Player from each team most likely to be traded in-season
- Golden State Warriors: Buy or sell Chris Paul being a day 1 starter
- Does Christian Wood make the Los Angeles Lakers a legit contender?
As one of only three teams in the West with 10 wins and a 5th place ranking in the Western Conference, the Dallas Mavericks are looking like one of the most complete teams in the early days of the 2014 NBA season. Yet all the buzz is surrounding the Memphis Grizzlies and the Houston Rockets.
Dallas may have only finished 8th to scrape into the playoffs last year but, after taking the San Antonio Spurs to 7 games in the first round, they more than proved what they were capable of. Now though, after winning six of their last seven games and having claim to the second best scoring differential in the league, they look even better.
First off it must be noted that the Dallas Mavericks have been lucky enough to play both the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers, which has no doubt given them a slight statistical boost (scoring 140 points against the Lakers would be far more impressive if they could actually play some defense). Despite easy scheduling at times the Mavericks have still taken down some tough teams, such as the Washington Wizards and the Sacramento Kings. If they didn’t have such a poor shooting performance last night, which is rare for this team, then they would have beaten the Rockets as well.
“man, they’ve got a lot of shooters, they blitzkrieg-ed us there” Kobe Bryant
However, it is not their schedule that needs to be focused on. It is the way they have dealt with their opponents so easily, and their deep roster that looks even more talented and complete than last year.
The Mavericks made a host of changes this offseason, and while they may have lost a few good players like Shawn Marion, Vince Carter and Jose Calderon, they have definitely come out of the summer even stronger.
Oct 10, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks center Tyson Chandler (6) and forward Chandler Parsons (25) guard Oklahoma City Thunder guardAndre Roberson
(21) during the first half at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
The addition of Tyson Chandler is huge for Dallas. He’s the best rim protector they’ve had recently and significantly bolsters their interior defense. Now that Chandler has left the dire situation of last season’s New York Knicks, he is fitting in perfectly with a team that he feels actually has a chance at making it far into the playoffs.
With averages of 10.5 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, he’s become the walking double-double that we all know he can be. Add on his 1.5 blocks per game, and ability to cut off lanes to the basket, and he’s the perfect counterpart to Dirk Nowitzki in the Maverick’s frontcourt.
Chandler Parsons’ shooting adds even more to this team’s dynamic offense. His field goal percentage may have dropped slightly to 41 percent, but he can still be relied on to make a couple of threes every game and the fact that he’s halved his turnovers (now 0.9 per game) means he is still maintaining a high level of efficiency. Marion was a great all around player and defender, but Parsons is 10 years younger and is clearly the better option in terms of providing the Mavericks with a group of young talent moving forward.
Al-Farouq Aminu doesn’t bring a lot to the table as a scorer, but he can make an impact on the defensive end. He’s a tough defender and, along with a host of other new players this offseason, Aminu adds energy and the kind of gritty defensive presence that the Mavericks need to create a balance with their high powered offense.
Finally, Jameer Nelson is a slight upgrade over the recently departed back-up point guard Jose Calderon. Nelson is comfortable controlling the tempo of the game and he knows how to run an offense to incorporate everyone on the floor. Calderon may be the better outside shooter (he shot a ridiculous 52 percent from behind the arc last year) but given some time to settle in with his new team Nelson will be a highly sound replacement.
Nov 21, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks guardMonta Ellis
(11) drives to the basket past Los Angeles Lakers forwardNick Young
(0) during the first half at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
With the addition of these players, there’s no doubt that the Dallas Mavericks have made some upgrades over their already strong squad from a year ago. When they combine with the likes of Monta Ellis and the ageless Dirk Nowitzki, it’s an obvious recipe for success.
Ellis, in my mind, is one of the most underestimated scorers in the NBA. His ability to finish around the basket is as good as nearly anyone in the league, and he extends his game with effortless shot creation off the dribble. Ultimately, it’s his fearlessness in late game situations that makes him a vital asset to this team, and now that he’s averaging 19.7 points per game off nearly 50 percent shooting his offensive game is as effective as ever.
Dirk is, well, Dirk. Along with Tim Duncan, the German 7-footer has one of the most timeless skill sets that the basketball world has ever seen. Despite being 36-years-old, Dirk can still score as well as any other big man, but his controlled amount of playing time this season (27 minutes per game) shows the Mavericks are doing just the right thing to keep him in good shape for when the playoffs role around. When looking at his stats per 36 minutes, though (25.8 points per game on 54 percent shooting, 49 percent from behind the arc), it’s clear that he’s hardly even lost a step.
Nov 3, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) shoots over Boston Celtics guardRajon Rondo
(9) and forwardJeff Green
(8) during the game at the American Airlines Center. The Mavericks defeated the Celtics 118-113. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
With their strengthened squad, who can shoot lights out on offense and have a new found toughness on defense, it’s no wonder that the Mavericks have the No. 1 offense in the league and the second best point differential of +11.1.
That’s not the only reason why people shouldn’t be sleeping on Dallas, though. The real reason is that they took the Spurs to seven games in the playoffs last year, with a weaker squad than they have now. When the LeBron-led Eastern Conference Champions, the Miami Heat, got beaten in five in the Finals.
The Spurs made the necessity of depth and overall team play known last year, and that is exactly what the Mavericks have now. They don’t have a bunch of inflated egos like the prematurely anointed champion Cleveland Cavaliers. Instead, they have the underestimated combination of talent, a team-first mindset, and a deep and balanced roster.
That is why you need to watch out for the Dallas Mavericks.