Watchability: Nowitzki, Mavericks want to challenge

The Mavericks will be back in the playoff hunt, but are they really set to be better now?

      
 

 

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Dallas Mavericks Unveil Fan-Designed 2015-16 Uniforms

Earlier this year, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban held a contest for fans to submit uniform design ideas for the 2015-16 season.

On Tuesday, Cuban and the Mavericks unveiled what the new alternate uniforms will look like.

It looks like this was a win-win idea for Dallas. The uniforms look sharp, and the team was able to get the fans involved in the process. This fan now has some solid bragging rights to his name.the

How do these uniforms compare to the Mavericks’ current threads?

[Twitter]

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Mavericks sign free agent guard Doron Lamb (Yahoo Sports)

DALLAS (AP) — The Dallas Mavericks have signed free agent guard Doron Lamb.

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Point guards are the Dallas Mavericks biggest question mark

Who steps up at point guard for the Dallas Mavericks? The Dallas Mavericks made aggressive moves this offseason. The Mavericks acquired Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton in a trade with the New York Knicks for point guard Jose Calderon, center Samuel Dalembert, reserves Shane Larkin and Wayne Ellington, along with 34th and 52 picks in the 2014 NBA draft; Cleanthony Early from Wichita Sate and Thanasis Antetokounmpo from the Delaware 87ers of the NBA D-League. This was a significant trade for both teams, although I believe the Knicks got the better end of that deal. Besides this eight-player trade the Dallas Mavericks pulled off, the Mavericks also went out and signed Chandler Parsons to a three year $46 million contract. Even with these two impactful moves, the Mavericks still acquired Jameer Nelson in free agency, and resigned Devin Harris. Which leads one to ask the question; who will start at point guard for the Dallas Mavericks? The Dallas Mavericks have three quality point guards in Raymond Felton, Devin

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What Dallas Mavericks Need from Dirk Nowitzki Next Season

In many ways, the Dallas Mavericks are a completely different team. They have new point guards, a revamped roster, a potential new playing style and, to top it off, elevated expectations for the 2014-15 season.

But really, the core of the team has remained the same.

The team still ultimately begins and ends with Dirk Nowitzki, as it has for the last 15 years. Between his shooting stroke and role as the cornerstone of the Mavericks, as long as he’s on the roster he will be a massive part of the franchise.

Then again, this season will be Dirk’s 17th NBA season. He can’t be expected to be the same player he once was. He’s changing along with the team.

With more help coming in, this is the most talented roster Dallas has had in a while. And as such, they need some tweaks from their star. Tweaks Dirk would be wise to make.

 

Doing More with Less

Last season, Monta Ellis was really the only guy on the floor besides Dirk who could create with the ball in his hands. Okay, maybe one and a half if Devin Harris counts.

But now, that number has ballooned.

Chandler Parsons will be a primary option on the wing, and he will have a lot of creative responsibilities. Raymond Felton and Jameer Nelson both will look to be more aggressive than their predecessor Jose Calderon. And a full season of the ever-attacking Devin Harris adds another player to this group.

And this means that Dirk will be less of a focus point. Fewer possessions will revolve around feeding Nowitzki in his spots. Now this may not be a ton of possessions, but it will be some.

As foreign as this sounds, it might not actually be a bad thing.

Nowitzki seemed to physically wear down as the season progressed. If the Mavs can afford to trim his minutes down and save him for later in the year, all the better.

But the bottom line is that Dirk will have to produce at a similar level with fewer opportunities. Though not being involved as much might save his legs, the Mavs still need production from their big guy.

He can afford to pick his spots, and he’ll probably get more catch-and-shoot opportunities, both luxuries that the Mavericks couldn’t afford last season. Obviously these are things that Dirk could like once he gets adapted to the new adjustments. But once he gets comfortable, these small changes will really help everyone around him.

 

Leadership

Unlike the previous section, this aspect requires essentially no changes from Dirk.

Nowitzki is not just the on-court core of the team, he’s also the leader in the locker room. The guy is loved by his fellow Mavs, and he’s the ultimate teammate, a guy other stars love to follow.

Take it from Tyson Chandler. The 13-year veteran gushed about Nowitzki in an interview with a local Dallas radio station.

He’s the type of guy, if I was a GM or president or owner, that I’d want to start my team with. He’s given Dallas his everything. When I first got here, I remember coming back late at night to get a lift in or work on some free throws and every single time I got there, he was there. He’d be putting up shot after shot after shot. It just shows that he’s never going to settle and he doesn‘t want to settle. He always wants to win and he’s willing to do whatever it takes. A lot was made about what I did and what I accomplished in my year here. He’s the man. When you have the top dog leading that way, you can’t help but fall in line

This team needs a leader. Someone to bring the roster’s mix of age, talent, role and experience together. Chandler has been all over the league and has seen his fair share of ups and downs. He knows a good leader when he sees one, and apparently he sees one in Dallas.

The task of meshing this team together will fall largely on Nowitzki’s shoulders. He’s done it for a couple of years now with all the recent roster turnover. The Mavs need him to do it one more time.

 

Crunch Time 

Let’s play a little game. Look at the Mavericks roster and point out some guys who you’d feel comfortable with taking a big shot down the stretch.

Chandler Parsons doesn’t have much experience in that department. Raymond Felton hasn’t earned anyone’s trust yet. Jameer Nelson shot incredibly poorly last year and Devin Harris didn’t shoot the lights out either. Richard Jefferson might rise to the occasion, but solely as a catch-and-shoot player.

Monta Ellis is the only guy who has recently shown any late-game chops. Him and Dirk Nowitzki.

So though Dirk may see less minutes and fewer touches, until the Mavs know what they have with this new roster, he will still have to be the fourth-quarter rock he’s always been.

According to NBA.com’s clutch stats database, last season Nowitzki was 18th in clutch scoring and had a plus minus of 1.9 in those same situations. Even in his mid-30s, he’s still as reliable as ever.

The guy even has his own top-10 clutch-shots video on YouTube for crying out loud.

Dirk’s late-game heroics are essential for Dallas. When the Mavs really are searching for a bucket, they need Dirk to answer the call. They need to have that option. Whether he’s a decoy or the trigger man, the team must have Dirk be the crunch-time guy they’re accustomed to.

Or else the late-game options get real thin real fast.

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Chandler Parsons Rides Camel for Mavericks ‘Game Day’ Commercial Shoot

This picture would have been very fitting had Chandler Parsons posted it on Wednesday, aka “hump day.”

Parsons—with teammate Devin Harris by his side—hopped on top of a camel for a Dallas Mavericks video. Parsons has yet to play in a game for the Mavericks, but it looks like he is enjoying some wild experiences with his new team.

In the caption, Parsons asked everyone what day it is. For those of you who guessed “hump day,” you would be wrong. Here’s a video the team made last year:

[Chandler Parsons, Dallas Mavericks]

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Breaking Down Dallas Mavericks’ Shooting Guard Position for 2014-15 Season

A year ago the Mavs signed Monta Ellis with the hope that he’d be an upgrade over the incredibly forgettable O.J. Mayo. The Mavs hoped that they could curtail some of Ellis’ wild plays and increase his efficiency, therefore turning him into a solid starter.

Ellis’ inefficiencies have been well documented. He was notorious for launching long, low-percentage jumpers and had a striking aversion to playing defense. His athleticism is undeniable, though before he came to Dallas his basketball IQ was in serious question.

But lo and behold, Ellis exceeded expectations and became a key cog in a 49-win Mavs team. And all of a sudden that third-year player option for $8.72 million seems like less of an albatross and more of a potential opt-out.

Of course, Ellis wasn’t the only new face to see time at the 2-guard. Devin Harris played quite a few minutes off the ball, and Vince Carter manned that spot when he came in off the bench.

But now things are a bit different. The Mavs added two starting-caliber point guards in Jameer Nelson and Raymond Felton to the backcourt, and Vinsanity signed a three-year deal in Memphis.

With all these new pieces in play, the shooting guard spot is due for a check-up before the season rolls around.

 

Grading Last Year’s Performance

After taking a chance and striking out for a year with Mayo, the Mavs had the gall to confidently walk back up to the plate and take another huge swing, this time with a three-year contract for Monta Ellis.

Fortunately, the gamble paid off this time.

Ellis’ reputation as a gunner seemed to fall by the wayside, as he averaged his usual 19 points, but he took fewer shots and upped his shooting by 3.5 points. And as Grantland’s Kirk Goldsberry documented in March, Ellis’ once illogical shot chart now has a very focused look to it.

As a member of the Milwaukee Bucks in 2012-13, Ellis shot from just about anywhere and rarely did he hit those shots consistently. As Maverick in 2013-14, Ellis obviously knew his spots. He made his money at the rim and around the right elbow, with a dash of threes sprinkled in.

And best of all, Ellis made his shots consistently.

Put it all together, and Monta becomes a weapon rather than an obstacle. Ellis rocketing off a Dirk Nowitzki screen became a feared play and subsequently the go-to for Dallas.

But Ellis’ turnaround wasn’t the only thing the Mavs had working for them. Once he was healthy, Devin Harris played some minutes at the 2 and proved to be well worth the veteran’s minimum that he played for last season.

On a team full of aging players with older legs, Harris provided a spark whenever he came off the bench. He loved attacking the paint, and was one of the few Mavs who could consistently create his own shot in the half court.

He became so integral to Dallas’ efforts he ended up playing 25.3 minutes per game in the playoffs against the Spurs.

And of course there was Vince Carter. He was a great bench scorer for the Mavs, putting up 11.9 points in 24.4 minutes per game while shooting 39.7 percent from three.

All that being said, there were some problems from Dallas’ shooting guard rotation last season. Ellis’ ability to play defense failed to improve like the rest of his game, and he was a liability on that end of the floor all season. Carter was also pretty bad defensively, though at 37 that’s more understandable.

Harris battled injuries all season and played in only 40 games. And though he provided an offensive spark, he also shot only 37.8 percent from the floor.

The position as a whole improved last season, but still had notable holes. Ellis and Harris both turned out to be shrewd signings, and Vince turned in another solid season. Injuries and defensive struggles held Dallas’ 2-guards back.

2013-14 Shooting Guards: B

 

What to Expect This Season

As with the rest of the roster, the shooting guard position was shaken up a bit with the Mavs’ offseason acquisitions.

No true shooting was guard added, but Raymond Felton and Jameer Nelson are now in play. With Harris also still around at the point, there are a lot of starting-caliber players with only two spots. So the Mavs could easily trot out lineups with a point at the shooting guard.

And though that isn’t traditional, it’s a tool with which Dallas could really do well.

Dallas’ offense is built on ball movement and pick-and-rolls. The more smart players on the floor the better, and ball handlers are extremely valuable. In other words, more players with point guard skills is a very good thing.

That being said, most likely the Mavs’ shooting-guard rotation will remain the same.

There’s nothing to suggest that Ellis won’t continue being the minutes sponge he’s always been. And if he continues to cut down on the bad basketball plays he’ll be even more dangerous.

What really held Devin Harris back last season was health, and though he’s been an oft-injured player in his career, he’s fully healthy right now. And with a training camp under his belt, he should be more comfortable and his awful shooting percentages should bump up.

Between Harris and Ellis, that should be most of the minutes at shooting guard. Though unlikely, it’s possible that someone like Ricky Ledo, who led the Mavssummer league team in scoring, could crack the rotation. And depending on if the Mavs opt to go bigger, some small forward types like Chandler Parsons could see an occasional blow at the 2.

What it boils down to is that Monta Ellis will see 75 percent of the shooting-guard minutes. But with all the flexibility in the Mavs backcourt, that other 25 percent of the time could get very interesting. Maybe the Mavs go small with a point guard there, or maybe they want a bigger wing in that spot. Rick Carlisle could trot out some very interesting lineups, and that will start with how they utilize their minutes at the 2.

Giving Carlisle options is never a bad thing, and he’ll have plenty of weapons to play with at shooting guard this season. It should be a very fun year in Dallas.

 

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Ranking the Dallas Mavericks’ Offseason Acquisitions

The Dallas Mavericks had one of the most surprising offseasons of any NBA team, bringing in multiple impact additions through a variety of means.

By being active in the trade market and exploiting the rules of restricted free agency and offer sheets, Dallas may be re-entering the title picture once again.  

Michael Pina at Sports on Earth broke that down here:

No team — save the Cleveland Cavaliers, for obvious reasons — has had a more pleasantly surprising offseason than the Dallas Mavericks. They filled a glaring hole, added a rising star and filled the margins with cheap, veteran production.

With Dirk Nowitzi still hanging on as a dark horse MVP candidate and Rick Carlisle functioning as the second best coach in the league, Dallas is perhaps once again on the brink of another title run.

There’s a lot of room for optimism in Dallas, but which offseason acquisition should have the biggest impact this season?

Based solely on what they should be able to provide on both ends this season, we’ll rank the Mavericks’ top five pickups this offseason.

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Dallas Mavericks: Rivalry With Houston Rockets Just Got Even Better

First Dwight Howard, then Chandler Parsons. Now Jason Terry? This Dallas Mavericks-Houston Rockets rivalry has now become bigger and breathtakingly awesome. The Rockets made a trade over the weekend, acquiring the former Sixth Man of the Year who won a championship with Dallas in 2011, from the Sacramento Kings in exchange for Alonzo Gee and […]
Dallas Mavericks: Rivalry With Houston Rockets Just Got Even Better – Hoops Habit – Hoops Habit – Analysis, Opinion and Stats All About The NBA

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Breaking Down Dallas Mavericks’ Point Guard Position for 2014-15 Season

Anybody who watched the 2012-13 Dallas Mavericks knows that this team needs good point guard play.

And if you were one of those people who hung in there with that squad, you deserve a back rub or something.

That year was rough in many ways. Dirk wasn’t himself, the nucleus from the 2011 title team was gone, and all year the Mavs seemed out of sorts. With a roster almost entirely full of players on one-year deals, it was an experiment gone wrong.

But as the saying goes, you can learn more from failure than success. And one of the primary lessons learned was that the Mavs need a competent point guard.

The 2012-13 playoff-less season was marred by less than adequate guard play. There was a lack of understanding of how to run the offense, how to get the whole team involved and maybe most importantly an inability to perform in crunch time.

According to NBA.com’s team clutch database, the 2012-13 Mavericks were 23-24 in games where the spread was five points or less in the last five minutes. That was 17th in the league.

This team needs a solid point guard play, and with all the turnover at the position this offseason, it’s about time to take an assessment of exactly what the Mavs are working with here.

 

Grading Last Year’s Performance

 The 2013-14 Mavericks went 26-22 in games where the score was five points or less in the last five minutes of a game. An obvious improvement over 2012-13 simply in terms of record, but their plus minus in those situations showed even greater progress. The point differential of 1.3 was a 1.4-point improvement from two years ago.

Obviously some of that is due to Dirk Nowitzki. He recaptured his game, and ended up fifth in the league in clutch total plus minus with 84.

But someone had to get Dirk the ball. Someone had to calmly run the offense under pressure. And that someone had to be a point guard.

Enter Jose Calderon.

The veteran fit the bill in crunch time, and the team owes a lot of their improvement to Calderon’s addition.

Clutch situations weren’t the only spots where Calderon made a difference. Their point differential increased by three points per game, and their assisted field-goal percentage shot up to fourth best in the league.

Of course, Calderon isn’t solely responsible for this. The entire team went through an extreme makeover last season, it wasn’t just the point guard that changed. But these are areas where Calderon can make a big impact. Where a guy with his skills is very valuable.

All that being said, the Mavs were limited at the position last season. The two main guys were Calderon and Devin Harris, though Harris missed 42 games. So essentially, the main guy was Calderon.

And anybody who watched him play knew the Spaniard had gaping holes in his game.

In addition to being a notoriously bad defender, the guy had next to no ability to finish at the rim. He made just 46 shots from five feet and closer last season in 2,468 minutes played last season.

For some perspective, Nate Robinson is generously listed at 5’9” and only played in 44 games last season yet he made 66 shots from that same distance.

The position improved dramatically from 2012-13, but still had plenty of weak spots. It was good, but definitely not great.

2013-14 Point Guards: B

 

What to Expect This Season

Half the roster has changed this offseason, but perhaps no one position has undergone more of a radical shift than the point guard spot. Two of Dallas’ top guys in Calderon and Shane Larkin were traded to the Knicks as part of the package that brought Tyson Chandler to the Mavs.

And along with Tyson Chandler came Raymond Felton. Dallas also signed Jameer Nelson, and re-signed Devin Harris. Those three will be the point guards for this season.

Gone is Calderon’s steady hand, and in come three relative question marks.

As previously stated, Harris missed 42 games due to various injuries last season and he also hasn’t played more than 70 games since the 2010-11 season. He brought energy and some offensive punch when he played, but he also only shot 37.8 percent from the field last season. He was good, but often inconsistent with his production.

Speaking of inconsistency, Raymond Felton will compete for starters minutes. He went from key player on a 54-win Knicks team to an afterthought in just a year. It’s anybody’s guess as to which Felton the Mavs get, let’s just hope it’s an in shape one.

Finally, Jameer Nelson might be the closest thing to consistent the Mavs have at the position. His shooting numbers are in decline, but he’s still a good passer and a smart player. His best years are behind him, but he still has a lot to give.

Obviously, this group does not have a Jose Calderon. There is a striking lack of the sharp-shooting and sure-handed point guard who fixed so many of Dallas’s ills last season.

So the plan of attack has to change, but just a bit.

Even though Dallas is without a Calderon-type point guard, the new guys bring other things to the table. Namely, they’re more athletic.

Now nobody is calling these guys crazy athletes, but athleticism was something the position was sorely lacking last season. Devin Harris brings the speed, while Felton and Nelson are far from slow. All three are quick, and they make their money by getting into the teeth of the defense.

Sound refreshing?

And with essentially three starting point guards, we might see a bit more pace-pushing. ESPN Dallas’ Tim McMahon recently wrote about how the roster seems to be moving in that direction, and the point guards are certainly equipped for that style.

As far as missing a steady hand, the Mavs should be just fine there too. Harris, Nelson and Felton have all been starters. They all know what they’re doing. And Nelson specifically has consistently run a team for all 10 of his NBA seasons.

To be clear, this is a team and a position in transition. Things are going to be different this year. Hopefully better, but nonetheless different.

Where Calderon was a limited player, the new trio is versatile. Where there was mostly just one point guard last season, now there’s three.

In football there’s a saying, “if you have two quarterbacks, you have none.” There’s no saying about three point guards in basketball, but either head coach Rick Carlisle will have his hands full or he will have three weapons to work with.

Based on his track record, it seems Carlisle should be happy this year. The Mavs can now play different styles, play mismatches and be less rigid in their lineups thanks largely to their flexibility at the point.

Change can be good. The Mavs have been proponents of that over the years, and this overhaul certainly puts that logic to the test. But the point guard position should improve with its new look. The front office did a nice job of keeping the position’s basketball IQ high while also upgrading its athleticism and versatility.

Now it’s time to start putting all the pieces together.

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