With the start of the NBA season just days away, the Dallas Mavericks upcoming season projections disregard the vast improvements they made during the offseason. ESPN analysts projected that Dallas would finish the season with just a meager 34 wins. This would be a disappointment to Mavs fans everywhere after they were able to land the 6th seed in the playoff race last season with a 42-40 record. While the Western Conference does showcase a deeper pool of playoff-ready teams, the Dallas Mavericks made some unexpected free agency moves that should propel them into contention. Here are five improvements the Mavs have made that prove they will have a more successful season.
- Harrison Barnes
The acquisition of Harrison Barnes has led some Mavs fans to believe that Dallas has finally found a young player to build their team around, while others think that he will not be able to live up to his four year $94 million contract. Each side presents fair points but at the end of the day Harrison Barnes will be able to fill a role that Chandler Parsons simply could not. Parsons missed a total of 21 games last season as he battled nagging injuries. Barnes, on the other hand, has missed a total of 21 games during his entire NBA career. Admittedly, Parsons may be the stronger player but Barnes will be able to make up for his weaknesses through his ability to consistently be out on the floor each game.
- Andrew Bogut
The Mavs had unexpected success with center, Zaza Pachulia last season but through a sign and trade deal with the Golden State Warriors, they were able to upgrade to an elite center in Andrew Bogut. The 7’0 Australian star has found great success in the NBA when healthy, and is just shy of averaging a double-double per game over the course of his career. Bogut will bring a strong paint presence and defensive leadership that the Mavs have not seen since their Championship run with Tyson Chandler back in 2011.
- Outside Shooting
Dallas finished the season tied for 22nd overall in 3-point shooting. With a 3-point shooting turnout of just 34 percent, the team is working to improve this season through Andrew Bogut’s superb screen and passing ability, the addition of Seth Curry, and a healthy and improved Wesley Matthews.
Andrew Bogut’s ability to create open shots was exemplified through his stellar play with the Golden State Warriors, however his ability to set tremendous screens seemed to be overlooked due to the flashy plays of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Bogut will bring this same influence to the Mavs offense, as Rick Carlisle will likely utilize him to create shots for players like Wesley Matthews and Dirk Nowitzki.
Seth Curry was added to the Mavs roster as the summer free agency came to a close. He showed glimpses of promise during his span at the Sacramento Kings and now the Mavs hope he can truly develop in their system. Over the course of the preseason, Curry has shot a remarkable 53 percent from 3-point range. He could be a key contributor to Dallas’ 3-point improvement.
Wesley Matthews will be the most important influence to the Mavs 3-point shooting this season. Matthews will finally have a full season under his belt since his ACL injury back in 2015, and the Mavs will rely heavily on his outside presence to spread the floor.
- Bench Depth
The Mavericks bench is ranked at 20th overall according to CBS Sports. Dallas’ bench may not contain any big name 6th men, but it does include a considerable amount of young, overlooked talent. Guard, JJ Barea, is coming off of an impressive season for the Mavs and will be able to offer an offensive spark off the bench behind point guard Deron Williams. Recently added players, Quincy Acy and Seth Curry, should also add an energetic boost to the Mavs depth chart. In his sophomore year, Justin Anderson, should improve greatly on his role in the Mavs organization. His defensive presence will be an important factor going into the season as he battles for more playing time.
While Dallas’ bench roster may be very young and inexperienced, we expect them to finish closer to the early teens in the post-season rankings.
- Dirk Nowitzki
Mavericks star and 38-year-old power forward, Dirk Nowitzki, re-signed a 2 year $50 million deal that will likely be the last contract of his NBA career. The future Hall of Famer was able to average an astonishing 18 points per game last season and his timeless play has yet to drop off. Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews will begin to take the reigns from the Mavs star, as Dirk is likely to drop off in minutes played this season. While Dirk’s overall performance will decline, the Big German will continue to be the heart and soul of this young Dallas Mavericks team.
The Dallas Mavericks enter the 2016-17 NBA regular season full of questions. With the bar set extremely low by ESPN and other analysts, we expect the Mavs to surprise the Western Conference and battle their way into the seventh seed of the Western Conference come playoff time.