After an injury-plagued 2012-2013 NBA season, Dirk Nowitzki will rejoin a Dallas Mavericks squad with lots of fresh faces—three of them joining the German in the starting line-up. Point guard Jose Calderon, shooting guard Monta Ellis and center Samuel Dalembert—all pegged as the starters came via free agency in the offseason and the Mavs front office look to replicate their success in 2011 when they won an NBA championship.
NBA: Preseason-Orlando Magic at Dallas Mavericks
Last season, Nowitzki missed 29 games, the most time off the floor in a season because of an injury in his colourful 15-year NBA career. The German gunner also just logged in 17.3 points per game-- career-low since his rookie year in 1998-1999—and added averages of 6.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists.
Will the new-look Mavs make some noise in the tough Western Conference this year? Calderon, Ellis and Dalembert are lesser defensive players than Dallas’ 2011 roster that included Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler, but they bring some new things to the Mavs camp. Calderon is a heady and steady point guard who can properly run a team; Ellis is an explosive scorer; and Dalembert is inconsistent but has shown flashes of brilliance in protecting the paint. Can the leadership of their comebacking leader in Dirk be enough to motivate all three and the rest of the Dallas roster?
2013-2014 Dallas Mavericks Projected Depth Chart
PG – Jose Calderon/Devin Harris/Shane Larkin
SG – Monta Ellis/Wayne Ellington
SF – Shawn Marion/Vince Carter/Jae Crowder
PF – Dirk Nowitzki/Brandan Wright
C – Samuel Dalembert/Dejuan Blair/Bernard James
3 Things Why the West Should Watch Out for These Mavs
1. Dirk is Back – And not the form he was in last season. Chalk that up as a fluke in his NBA career since he was suffering from various injuries. With new and capable weapons around him, the 2006-07 NBA Most Valuable Player will once again be one of the best bigs in the NBA. Dirk's numbers have dipped the past three years, but if he’s healthy once again it’s not out of the question that he joins the MVP race once again and lead a battling Mavs squad to the lower seeds in the Western Conference Playoffs.
2. Calderon/Ellis Backcourt - Much has been said already how opposing teams will destroy this rather smallish backcourt. However, on offense—especially if they can find chemistry with each other and with their big man Dirk, this Rick Carlisle-coached squad can pull off a few surprises in 2013. The Mavs averaged 101.1 PPG last season or 8th overall in the league. With new offensive weapons this year, look for those numbers to improve even better.
3. Sammy and Shawn’s Length – Shawn Marion is not the spring chicken anymore, but his length has once upon a time gave offensive player fits. Along with Dalmbert, they’ll form an athletic pair to help Nowitzi protect the block. On offense, they know their roles: hustle, energy and eat glass. The best fit Ellis and Nowitzki, both of whom will want to get their shots. Marion also has an expiring contract ($9.31M)—a valuable commodity around the trade deadline if they want to look for options.
Fearless Forecast: 46-36 good for the 8th seed in the Western Conference. The Mavs had 41 wins last year—four games off the final seed in the West. With a healthy Dirk, they’ll add 5-10 more wins and be in the thick of things in the battle for postseason slots. Not a contender by any means but if the new guys play their role well they could indeed make noise like in their 2011 championship run.
Other 2013-2014 NBA Teams Previews:
Phoenix Suns | Cleveland Cavaliers | Washington Wizards | Charlotte Bobcats | Philadelphia 76ers | Orlando Magic | Dallas Mavericks | Los Angeles Lakers | Chicago Bulls | Brooklyn Nets | Houston Rockets | Houston Rockets
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