Dallas Mavericks Season Preview & Predictions

Lead by 37 year old Jason Kidd the Mavs are starting to get a little long in the tooth, but are good enough to make the playoffs and give it one last run before reloading around Dirk
Last year, the Dallas Mavericks (55-27) finished first in the Southwest and second in the West Division. Dallas beat San Antonio in the first round of the playoffs and then they were eliminated in round two by the Denver Nuggets. It was, once again, another disappointing end to the postseason for Dallas. This season, the Mavs will continue to be competitive in the West.

In the off-season, power forward Dirk Nowitzki (.481 FG%, .412 3PT%, .915 FT%, 7.7 RPG, 2.7 APG, 25.0 PPG) signed a four-year $80 million deal. So the big guy is onboard. Nowtitzki played 81 games last season, which was his 12th in the NBA, and was a dynamic scorer. He is one of the best shooters in the league, ably hitting from anywhere on the court.

Shawn Marion (.508 FG%, .158 3PT%, .755 FT%, 6.4 RPG, 1,4 APG, 12.0 PPG, who is an 11-year vet, had a decent first season with the Mavs. However, it’s hoped that he can eek out a bit more point production and stay healthy. Marion cannot hit threes but he’s a solid inside shooter.

Part way through last season, Brendan Haywood (.562 FG%, .000 3PT%, .620 FT%, 9.3 RPG, 0.6 APG, 9.1 PPG), who now starts his 10thNBA season, came to the Mavs after spending most of his years with Washington. Of the frontcourt starters, the seven-foot-even center is the youngest, the best offensive rebounder and the best shot blocker, averaging 2.05 BPG.

Point guard Jason Kidd (.423 FG%, .425 3PT%, .808 FT%, 5.6 RPG, 9.1 APG, 10.3 PPG) is still a highly competitive player. Although his total point production fell of last season, he did up his shooting percentage from every part of the court. Kidd, who played in 80 games, is a master at assists and a guy who always plays hard.

The starting shooting guard spot goes to Caron Butler (.428 FG%, .290 3PT%, .838 FT%, 6.2 RPG, 2.1 APG, 16.3 PPG). Butler came to Dallas from Washington at mid-season last year. He was solid on defense and a decent shooter except from downtown where he connected on less than 25% of his attempts. At 30 years of age, he is the youngest starter on the team. Off the bench, shooting guard Jason Terry (.438 FG%, .365 3PT%, .866 FT%, 1.8 RPG, 3.8 APG, 16.6 PPG) can connect from beyond the three-point arc. He’ll be a good backup.

In terms of league play last season, the Dallas Mavericks were a bit better than a middle of the road team. They offered an Offensive Efficiency of 107.1 (10th) and a Defensive Efficiency of 103.2 (12th). They did not get a lot of shots off as they ranked 17thin Pace (94.8). What is no surprise is that Nowitzki led the team in PER with a mark of 23.01.

Although the team was a disappointment when it came to offense, they did lead the league in free throws, hitting 81.6%. However, that was not a huge help as the club, which was comprised mainly of jump-shooters and not guys who drove to the basket, was 26th in trips to the free throw line. On “D” they were helped by the fact that they committed very few fouls. They were expert at winning close games, going 18-7 in games decided by five points of less.

In eight years of coaching, Rick Carlise (386-270) has posted just one losing season and that was the only time he has not taken a team to the playoffs. That was in 2007, his final year with the Pacers. Although he has come close, Carlise has never won a NBA Championship as a coach.  This is not a championship team. If each of their starters were about five years younger, they could be one.

Dallas is a big team. They can pound under the boards and block shots. They should be able to get a lot of second shots off too. But they will most likely be hampered by age. Most of these players have been around a long time, which means they possess experience as well as a lot of wear and tear. Expect the Mavs to finish second in the Southwest Division and somewhere between 4th and 6th in the West.

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