DALLAS MAVERICKS PREVIEW 2011
STATE OF THE FRANCHISE
The 2010-2011 season was all about redemption as the Mavericks avenged their 2006 NBA Finals loss to the Heat with the franchiseís first championship. Led by Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks used their deep and talented group of veterans and role players to take down the Blazers, Lakers, Thunder, and Heat. The team was able to overcome injuries to Caron Butler and Rodrigue Beaubois, relying on former All-Stars like Shawn Marion, Jason Kidd, and Peja Stojakovic. The offseason addition of Tyson Chandler provided the team with the defensive presence it sorely lacked.
However, Mark Cuban was unable to keep the team together, citing harsher penalties for luxury tax payers. Key contributors Chandler, Butler, and JJ Barea all found new homes, Stojakovic announced his retirement and DeShawn Stevenson remains unsigned. However the Dallas front office cleverly retooled signing veterans Vince Carter and Delonte West while trading for Lamar Odom. Dallas faces tough competition in their quest to repeat but remain a contender in the West.
PLAYING TIME DISTRIBUTION
Jason Kidd will once again be the starting point guard but due to his advanced age and the condensed schedule, coach Rick Carlisle intends to limit his minutes. The goal is to have Kidd play around or just under 30 minutes with the occasional game off. Delonte West will be Kiddís primary backup and should see around 15 minutes of playing time. Jason Terry may see some time at point with Dominique Jones picking up any scrap minutes.
Offseason addition Vince Carter will get the first crack at the starting two-guard spot. He could fill a role similar to former Mavericks Caron Butler and Jerry Stackhouse, playing between 20-25 minutes. The minutes may seem low but with Terry playing his usual 30 minutes a game and Rodrigue Beaubois healthy and ready to return to action, Carterís role will be limited.
Dallas is perhaps the most versatile team in the league with a pair of forwards more than able to play multiple positions. Coach Carlisle has shown his ability to adapt, utilizing a variety of lineups to fit both his offensive and defensive schemes. Shawn Marion and Lamar Odom will each get a shot at starting at small forward with the other joining a strong second-unit. Marionís familiarity with the system will give him a slight edge and he should average close to 25 minutes a game.
For the first time in several seasons the Mavericks have a legitimate backup for Dirk Nowitzki. Nowitzki will still receive his standard 35+ minutes at power forward with the occasional spell at center but the presence of Odom could buy him rest. Like Marion, Odom will split time between both forward spots and should average between 25-30 minutes a game. Brian Cardinal and Brandan Wright will split any remaining minutes.
Brendan Haywood and Ian Mahinmi are the only true centers on the roster, with Haywood returning to the starting lineup after spending last season in a reserve role. Haywood will likely see somewhere near 25 minutes a game with Manhinmi chipping with 10. The remaining minutes will likely go to Nowitzki who will shift over to center if Carlisle elects to play him alongside Marion and Odom.
Brendan Haywood: Haywood entered last season as the expected starting center but Tyson Chandler took over and never relinquished the role. He averaged a career-low 4.4 points per game while shooting an abysmal 36 percent from the free-throw line. Nevertheless heís back in the starting lineup and is expected to carry a heavy load. Heís shown flashes in Dallas and plays much more focused when part of the starting unit. He will be a good source for blocks and rebounds but beware his negative impact on free-throw percentage.
Ian Mahinmi: Mahinmi enters the season as the primary backup center after playing in a career-best 56 games last year. Heís energetic and a capable rebounder but has a tendency to get into foul trouble. If Haywood misses any time, Mahinmi may garner attention in deeper fantasy leagues but for now he remains an unpolished reserve.
Sean Williams: Williams returns to the NBA after spending time playing in Israel and in the D-League. Heís a good interior presence on defense and could become a sneaky source of blocks if he gets regular playing time.
Dirk Nowitzki: The Mavs title run showed the world what most fantasy owners already knew, Dirk is a remarkable offensive weapon that does damage with an extremely efficient game. His rebounding numbers continue to regress but he did manage to average over 20 points for the 11th straight season while shooting a career-best 51 percent from the field. He suffered the first significant injury of his career, a knee sprained that cost him nine games. Still he remains an elite fantasy option and wonít make it past the first round in a majority of drafts.
Shawn Marion: Marionís first two years in Dallas are nearly identical in terms of production. Heís averaged 12.0 points and nearly 7.0 rebounds in both seasons but his 2010-2011 campaign should be considered something of a bounce back. Last season he played three fewer minutes and only started 27 games compared to 75 in his first season with Dallas. Heíll get a chance to start again and while he is longer a first-round selection, Marion is a solid late round selection.
Lamar Odom: The reigning Sixth Man of the year is coming off a banner season, shooting career highs from the field and three-point range. His size makes him a useful weapon for coach Rick Carlisle and heís likely to see time at both forward positions. With so many offensive weapons in Dallas heís liable see a tiny drop in production but heíll still play heavy minutes. He remains a good source of rebounds and assists from the forward position.
Brian Cardinal: Cardinal earned the respect of teammates and fans for his hard-nosed style of play. He played key minutes in the Finals with Brendan Haywood slowed by injury. However the Custodian remains an end of the bench player and his style of play isnít fantasy friendly.
Brandan Wright: Plagued by shoulder injuries, the former lottery pick signed in Dallas after a brief stint with New Jersey. Heís long and tall and coach Rick Carlisle has hinted he could see some time at the center position. Dallas has had some success with former lottery guys like Brandon Bass and Gerald Green, but Wright remains near the bottom of the depth chart.
Jason Kidd: The veteran point guard finally captured the championship that had been so elusive and did so despite career-lows in points and rebounds and his lowest assist numbers since his rookie campaign. However heís battled age by developing a three-point shot and has connected on at least 100 threes in eight of the past nine years. While he can still contribute in threes, steals, and assists, Father Time and a young crop of point guards have taken away a lot of his fantasy value.
Jason Terry: After winning the Sixth Man of the Year in 2009, Terry made another run at the award finishing second for the second consecutive season. But donít let the fact he comes off the bench fool you. Terry plays starterís minutes, trailing only Nowitzki for the team lead in minutes played per game. Heís a good source of points and threeís but has shown some early signs of age-related decline. Still the JET is instant offense and capable of producing a very fantasy friendly hot-streak.
Vince Carter: Carter reunites with his former New Jersey teammate Jason Kidd and will get a chance to start at shooting guard. Dallas hasnít had a legitimate offensive weapon at the two for a while and Carter could fill that void. However, last year was not a good year for Vinsanity as he averaged a career-low 14.0 points per game while with the Magic and the Suns. If he can buy into Dallasí free flow offensive scheme he could see that number, as well as his shooting percentages, improve.
Rodrigue Beaubois: Roddy B failed to recapture the magic that made him a fan-favorite his rookie season. He missed the teamís first 54 games and was largely ineffective in his 28 games played. An injury in the season finale kept him out throughout the playoffs and a second surgery was required in the offseason. He remains a big injury-risk but could be a steal if he can rediscover his offensive game.
Delonte West: The Mavericks signed the eight-year pro to a one-year deal to order to lighten the load on Jason Kidd. Westís production has been hampered in recent seasons by injuries and off the court drama. Still heís the lone proven point guard on the bench and his career numbers are slightly better than JJ Barea, who previously filled this spot.
Dominique Jones: Jones failed to find a niche despite receiving a healthy dose of minutes early in the year. He spent time in the D-League, averaging 18.7 points and 5.0 assists per game with the Texas Legends, before a fractured foot ended his season. Jones finds himself in a similar situation this season, a project buried on the depth chart behind proven stars.
Brendan Haywood: Haywood was a major disappointment last season after losing his starting job to Tyson Chandler. However with Chandler now in New York, Haywood returns to this starting lineup where heís had previous success. In 27 starts with Dallas, heís averaged 7.4 points and 8.2 rebounds a game to go along with 2.2 blocks per game. He wonít carry much of an offensive load but can be a huge benefit in rebounds and blocks.
Vince Carter: The days of Half-Man, Half-Amazing are behind Carter. His scoring average has declined in four straight seasons and that trend could continue since he wonít be a primary option in Dallasí half court offense. Jason Terry will see a ton of minutes off the bench and will eat into Carterís court time. Someone will overvalue Carter based on name alone but there are cheaper and better options available.