This article is part of our NBA Team Previews series.
By Jeff Stotts
RotoWire Staff Writer
STATE OF THE FRANCHISE
Things got off to a rocky start last season for new Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle. The team started out just 2-7 as Carlisle tinkered with the lineup hoping to find an identity for a team in desperate need of one. It wasn't until he handed the play calling responsibility over to veteran point guard Jason Kidd that the Mavs' began to turn their season around. The team finished strong and entered the playoffs as a surprising sixth seed. However, a ninth straight season of 50 wins or more and a first round win over the rival San Antonio Spurs were not enough to completely satisfy owner Mark Cuban.
The oft-vocal billionaire and Mavs general manager Donnie Nelson were active in the offseason, orchestrating a four-team deal that put one-time nemesis Shawn Marion in a Dallas uniform. While the team was disappointed when the Orlando Magic matched their offer sheet to restricted free agent center Marcin Gortat and signed away forward Brandon Bass, they managed to fill voids with veterans Drew Gooden and Tim Thomas. With their core still intact and the additions of Marion and Gooden, the Mavericks appear reloaded and sit poised to return to the upper echelon of the Western Conference.
PLAYING TIME DISTRIBUTION
The numerous moves Nelson made in the offseason make Dallas very versatile and will allow Carlisle to mix-and-match based on the match up. Newly-acquired Shawn Marion is the key because he can play a multitude of positions. Dallas plans on starting Marion at small forward but could shift him to power forward if the team elects to go small. Regardless of position, expect him to log around 36 minutes.
Franchise stalwart Dirk Nowitzki will play the bulk of his usual 35-plus minutes at power forward but could slide over to the center position for a stretch while Marion mans the four. Erick Dampier will remain the starting center but should only see 25 minutes - in part due to his tendency to get into foul trouble. The addition of Marion has other implications, specifically on the shooting guard position, as it shifts former All-Star Josh Howard into the starting spot. Howard will likely play between 30 and 35 minutes with the majority at the two, with the rest coming as the small forward when Coach Carlisle elects to go smaller. Jason Kidd remains the only true point guard on the roster and should play his standard 35 minutes.
Jason Terry will be the first man off the bench and continue to get starter minutes. In two seasons off the bench the JET has averaged 30 minutes and that trend should continue this year. JJ Barea will likely be utilized like he was last season, splitting 20 minutes of action between the guard positions. Quinton Ross should average about 10 minutes as a defensive specialist. Barring an injury, rookie Rodrigue Beaubois will see limited action this season and Matt Carroll will pick up any spare minutes.
The forward position is Dallas' deepest one and that should help balance out the lack of depth at the center spot. Drew Gooden should get between 25-30 minutes as a power forward and center while veteran Tim Thomas will play both forward spots for 10-plus minutes. James Singleton will try to repeat his role of last season when he played everywhere but the guard positions, but may see a reduction in playing time. Shawne Williams, Nathan Jawai, and Kris Humprhies will battle for the final roster spot then likely fight for garbage time.
Erick Dampier: Dampier continues to underachieve for those expecting more from a guy with a giant contract. However he is an extremely efficient rebounder, averaging nearly eight rebounds in each of his five seasons in Dallas. Despite his high field goal percentage, his offensive game remains limited as he has only averaged double digits twice in 13 years. Grab Dampier in deeper leagues and enjoy the rebounding and blocks, but don't expect much else.
Drew Gooden: Gooden is an NBA nomad joining his seventh team in just his eighth NBA season. Regardless of his home Gooden has been exceptionally consistent averaging 12.0 points and 7.9 rebounds for his career. Dallas will use him in a role similar to that of Brandon Bass last season, playing him at center and power forward making Gooden worth a late-round pick.
Nathan Jawai: Jawai's NBA career almost ended before it began as he was diagnosed with an enlarged heart during training camp with Toronto. He did manage to return late last season but reported overweight before being included in the Marion deal. Dallas has been reportedly shopping him around and he remains a likely candidate to be traded or cut.
Dirk Nowitzki: A sure-fire first round fantasy pick, Nowitzki continues to shine with a balanced and efficient game that often goes unnoticed. The German's 2008-2009 numbers were eerily similar to his numbers in 2006-07 when he was league MVP. In fact his scoring average of 25.9 was a point higher than in his MVP campaign. For the first time in years Nowitzki did not play for the German national team this offseason and the rest should help him as he enters his 12th NBA season. His rebounds may diminish with Shawn Marion joining the fray but continue to select Nowitzki early on and do so with confidence.
Shawn Marion: Marion flourished in the run-and-gun system of Mike D'Antoni in Phoenix but has seen his stats rapidly diminish over the last two seasons with Miami and Toronto. Playing alongside Jason Kidd should improve Marion's productivity, but don't expect a big hike in scoring as Dallas remains Nowitzki's team. Fantasy owners can expect Marion to continue to contribute across the board but he is longer worth a first-round fantasy pick.
James Singleton: Singleton was a pleasant surprise for Dallas averaging 14 minutes of playing time and even starting six games. He is an active rebounder and athletic enough to play three positions. However his hustle and energy do not translate well for fantasy owners and is not considered a real fantasy option.
Tim Thomas: Dallas is Thomas' seventh NBA stop in his 13 year career after spending last season in both Chicago and New York. He will come off the bench and be expected to stretch the defense with his outside shot. However a knee injury in a recent pick-up game may limit Thomas in training camp and preseason. He may be an option for those desperate for made threes in deeper leagues but his fantasy contributions remain one-dimensional.
Shawne Williams: Williams joined Dallas last season and appeared in 11 games before leaving the team for personal reasons. He isn't a lock to make the final roster and cannot be counted on.
Kris Humphries: Humphries missed a large portion of last season with a fractured fibula in his leg and was included in the four-team trade that brought Shawn Marion to Dallas. He remains an end of the rotation player on a crowded Dallas roster.
Jason Kidd: Kidd is no longer the elite point guard he was in New Jersey but he continues to be a top fantasy contributor. The veteran was in top five in assists last season with 8.7 a game. He expanded his game to include the three-pointer where he averaged 1.6 made threes per game. With solid percentages and numerous weapons surrounding him, Kidd should continue to produce across the board.
Josh Howard: Injuries marred Howard's 2008-2009 season as he missed 30 games with ankle and wrist injuries. Offseason surgery on both will help as Howard prepares to play a new position. The addition of Shawn Marion makes J-Ho the new starting shooting guard and Dallas hopes the change will help him return to his previous All-Star form. Howard likely remains a middle-round pick but expect some growing pains early on in the season as he transitions into his new position.
Jason Terry: The reigning Sixth Man of the Year will look to defend his title this season as he provides an offensive spark as Dallas' first option off the bench. With sound percentages, a low turnover rate, and a knack for scoring, Terry remains a safe and efficient fantasy addition.
Rodrigue Beaubois: A draft-day trade brought the French point guard to Dallas and with the speed and ability to get to the rim he showed in Summer League the Tony Parker comparisons have already begun. However expect Beaubois to spend more time learning from Jason Kidd then contributing on the court.
Jose Juan Barea: The diminutive point guard proved that despite his stature he belongs in the NBA. He notched a career-high in minutes (20 per game) and averaged 7.8 points and 3.4 assists while hitting several clutch shots late in games. Barea will play a similar role this season and could help in deeper leagues.
Quinton Ross: Ross spent the first five seasons of his NBA career with the Clippers and Grizzlies and comes to Dallas sporting a career scoring average just above four points. While the Mavs hope his career three-point percentage of 34.6 will help them spread the floor, Ross will be utilized more as a defensive specialist.
Matt Carroll: Acquired last season from Charlotte, Dallas hoped Carroll would contribute as a long-ball threat, only to see him make just one three-pointer in 21 games in a Dallas uniform. While he remains a 40 percent shooter from behind the arc for his career, he is not a reliable option for fantasy owners.
Drew Gooden: Gooden has an outside shot to replace incumbent Erick Dampier as the starting center, and join a very talented starting unit. At 6'10" Gooden remains a tad undersized but is a solid rebounder and averaged 14.4 points and 9.2 rebounds when used as a starter his first season in Cleveland. If he can beat out Damp in training camp and preseason, Gooden could be a valuable asset in most fantasy leagues.
Josh Howard: Offseason surgery and a new position may make for a rocky start for Howard. The former All-Star is at his best when he can cut to the basket and mix in long-range shots but with Shawn Marion now playing that role, how Howard will adapt remains unseen. Furthermore playing alongside Marion and Jason Kidd may negatively effect Howard's other stats particularly his assists and rebounding numbers. Playing for a new contract may motivate Howard but some owners may focus on his All-Star campaign in 06-07 and overvalue the swingman.
Article first appeared on 9/29/09