Here at Blue Man Hoop, we’re gearing up for the 2012-13 season by looking around the NBA to see how each team matches up with the Golden State Warriors. We’ll give you an overview of each opponent, a matchup or stat to watch and a measure of just how big a threat each opposing squad represents for the Dubs. Be sure to check out the other previews we’ve done so far on Blue Man Hoop: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers.
Dallas Mavericks Overview
Mark Cuban’s Dallas Mavericks had big dreams heading into the 2012 offseason. But they suffered a rude awakening when Deron Williams spurned their advances and resigned with the Brooklyn Nets. And despite being mentioned as prominently as anyone in the Dwight Howard Sweepstakes, the Mavs were out of luck there, too. To top it all off, Jason Kidd and Jason Terry both high-tailed it out of Dallas, leaving “Cubes” and his Mavs in a living nightmare.
But Dallas recovered nicely, or at least as nicely as they could, bringing in the amnestied Elton Brand to back up the ageless Dirk Nowitzki. Chris Kaman and O.J. Mayo joined up on free-agent deals. Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones came over in a trade with the Indiana Pacers. Then the team re-inked Delonte West.
So while the Mavs—who finished last year at 36-30 after a decidedly lame start due to Dirk’s poor conditioning—didn’t hit the lottery this offseason, they made enough small moves to remain a playoff contender.
There are definitely question marks, though. Kaman has missed somewhere in the neighborhood of six million games over the last few seasons and Elton Brand is now just a mid-range jump shooter. Mayo’s been a bit of a disappointment in his career so far, and both Nowtizki and Shawn Marion are 34 years old.
The Mavs are on the cutting edge of the NBA’s statistical revolution, so some of the personnel decisions they made get the benefit of the doubt. Plus, coach Rick Carlisle is still among the NBA’s best strategists, so if anyone can put together a puzzling roster on the fly, it’s him.
Overall, Dallas is still probably a postseason team, but they’re no longer a perennial top-four seed. If the roster comes together and Nowitzki is in shape, the Mavs will probably finish somewhere between fifth and seventh in the West.
Dallas’ offense is going to be very strange this season, as the majority of their offensive options in the frontcourt prefer to do their damage with mid-range jumpers. New additions Elton Brand and Chris Kaman shoot a ton of jumpers from 10-15 feet. Both Brand and Nowitzki were in the NBA’s top three in shot attempts from that range last year. And Kaman averaged almost as many shots from the outside (16-23 feet) as he did at the rim last season, according to Hoopdata.com. Kaman also took more shots from the range Dirk and Brand prefer (10-15 feet) than any center other than Al Jefferson last year.
So how do you defend against a team that just wants to take medium and long two-pointers? Usually, a defense would be glad to concede shots like the ones Dallas likes. It’ll definitely be interesting to watch how the Warriors (and the rest of the league) defend Dallas’ unusual offense this season. With Lee and Bogut both being fairly mobile, they should be able to challenge Dallas in the middle of the floor. And even though Mark Jackson didn’t go to a zone defense often last season, one might be useful to clog up the mid-range area against Dallas.
Threat Level: 7/10
Dallas is one of a handful of teams the Warriors may be competing with this season for a bottom-half playoff berth. Although the Mavs look vastly different than they did last year, they’ve still got Dirk, so they’re still dangerous. It’s possible the Mavs suddenly get old and/or the new mixture of players doesn’t work, which would be a boon for the Warriors. But they’re likely to be a legitimate problem for the Dubs.