Dallas Mavericks 42-40
Key Additions: Harrison Barnes- Forward (4 years/ $95m), Andrew Bogut- Center (Trade with Golden State), Seth Curry- Guard (2 years/ $6m), Quincy Acy- Forward (2 year minimum) , A.J. Hammons- Center (46th overall pick), Jonathan Gibson- Guard (3 years partial guarantee)
Departures: Chandler Parsons, Zaza Pachulia, Raymond Felton, David Lee, Jeremy Evans, JaVale McGee, Charlie Vilanueva
Another year, another short playoff run in Dallas. Yes, the Mavericks have made the playoffs 15 of the last 16 seasons, but only two of those seasons have seen them play ball in the month of June. Not to mention that half of those playoff runs have come to an end in the first round, and this season was no different. The Mavs managed to fight through numerous injuries to some key players in order to secure the sixth seed in the playoffs, which set them up with a first-round date with the Oklahoma City Thunder and a quick exit.
It was like déjà vu in Dallas when Chandler Parsons battled injuries throughout the season and only suited up for 61 games. And out of those games, you would only see his name in the starting lineup 51 times. It’s tough to see much success when your big free agent signing hasn’t seen much of the floor for the past two seasons.
Parsons wasn’t the only disappointment last season. The newest offseason acquisition, Wesley Matthews, had one of the worst seasons of his career. Dallas was criticized for willingly offering up a max contract to a player, who just months before, had ruptured his Achilles. Both players looked to be key scoring pieces around Dirk this past season, and neither was able to be affective down the stretch.
There are a few things that can be taken from this past season that can give fans some hope heading into the 2016-2017 campaign. One of these being head coach Rick Carlisle. He might be one of the more underrated coaches in the league. The guy has been able to build an offense around an aging star and make it work. The Mavs were eighth in the league in offensive efficiency last season. Carlisle knows how to pump out a good offense with the pieces he has. And I guess it doesn’t hurt when you have one of the best European players of all time at your disposal. At the ripe age of 37, Dirk still averaged just over 20 points a night and even saw his minutes increase from the previous year. Father time hasn’t caught up to him just yet, and from the looks of it, he might still have a couple years in the tank.
Dallas didn’t play around this offseason. After a 2015 offseason where DeAndre Jordan was a Maverick for all of three days, they decided to make a few moves to help put some pieces around Dirk to make a little noise. Cuban went out and snagged a few former Warriors in both Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut to help fill some needed areas. Dirk was never known for being a bully on the boards, so trading for a guy like Bogut helps add the grit down low that Dallas is currently lacking. Barnes looks to fill the void of Parsons who is now in Memphis. Some may see this as an upgrade, even though he didn’t give his best performance in the most meaningful games last season. But besides a sprained ankle in the middle of the Warriors historic start, Barnes looks to be a pretty reliable player health wise. Being able to count on a guy to play night in and night out at that position is something Dallas hasn’t seen in a few seasons. A lot of Dallas’ success could ride on whether or not Barnes can turn into a quality scoring option behind Dirk.
With the new pieces surrounding him, Dirk should be able to focus on his scoring but not have to carry as much of the offensive load as he did last year. A fully healed Wesley Matthews along with whatever Barnes can give you should allow Dirk to lower his minutes and conserve himself for the postseason.
Sixteen out of 17 years in the playoffs doesn’t sound too bad right? Carlisle will have the Mavs back in the playoffs this season, most likely fighting for a fifth through eighth seed. This team has some good pieces that can really work well together. They now have a strong rebounder to help Dirk and good scorers all throughout the roster. The one big question mark in Dallas is Dirks age, which up until this point has not had any discernible impact. But we’ve seen it before, sometimes age catches up to you unexpectedly and you have a sudden fall off. If he can still average around 16-18 ppg the Mavs will be just fine. Also, a big key for this team is a much needed bounce back season from Matthews. They can’t afford to have a max deal guy only be getting them 12 points a night. If he can bring back the sniper presence from behind the arc, this team can go out and really be competitive. A deep playoff run, barring some catastrophic injury to one of the main contenders, is not going to be in the cards for the Mavs this year, but it will be interesting to see how all of their new pieces work together and how the new additions will benefit Dirk.