Why an MVP Season from Dirk Nowitzki Could Be Bad News for the Reloaded Mavs

The Dallas Mavericks are reloaded and ready to compete for Western Conference supremacy, adding Chandler Parsons and bringing back Tyson Chandler in the offseason.

What can we expect from Rick Carlisle’s team this year?

Richie Whitt of NBC5 Dallas joins Adam Lefkoe to play a game of over/under in the video above.

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Is It Realistic to Assume Tyson Chandler Can Regain 2011 Form for Mavs?

When the Dallas Mavericks struck a deal with the New York Knicks in June to land Tyson Chandler, the fans rejoiced. The 7’1″ center was one of the key cogs in Dallas’ 2011 championship run, and Chandler’s return has allowed those fuzzy, warm memories to resurface. But that was four seasons ago.

Many expect Chandler, 32, to jump right back in and anchor what has been a faltering defense in his absence. He knows head coach Rick Carlisle‘s defensive schemes, but it’s important to remember that 2011 was the pinnacle of Chandler’s career.

The big man had an incredible impact on the floor when he last wore a Mavericks uniform. When Chandler was on the floor, Dallas’ defensive rating (opponents’ points per 100 possessions) improved by 3.5 points, which is by far the biggest statistical difference he has made in his career as a starter.

That number naturally dropped when he became a Knick, and for reference, it’s probably most accurate to inspect how the most recent version of Chandler has performed.

Knicks’ opponents actually had a better offensive rating with Chandler on the floor last season, although only by 0.4 points per 100 possessions. If that shocks you, well, it shouldn’t.

Chandler spent the vast majority of his playing time sharing the court with Raymond Felton, J.R. Smith, Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. None of those four gentlemen really exude defensive prowess, yet that was by far the most-used Knicks lineup last season. Good luck anchoring a defense with that type of personnel around you.

Watching film of that particular lineup playing defense is straight-up painful, and it highlights several things. First of all, Smith and Felton struggle fighting over screens, which often puts Chandler in precarious situations, especially when his direct matchup is a pick-and-pop threat:

In the first clip, the Knicks’ defense is broken down by a simple pick-and-roll on the wing. Chandler doesn’t want to leave LaMarcus Aldridge, one of the best mid-range shooters in the game, and no one else rotates in time to disrupt Damian Lillard‘s drive until he is at full speed. You could argue that Chandler should switch and try to contain Lillard, but that would create a mismatch and Aldridge could either post up Felton or shoot over him.

The second play is very similar. Smith gets stuck on the screen and Monta Ellis gets an open dunk. Granted Ellis possesses blistering speed and is almost impossible to catch in a well-executed handoff, it’s still a weird play. As per usual, there is no weak-side help, and Chandler is presented with the impossible task of eliminating the pick-and-pop threat of Dirk Nowitzki while at the same time containing a full-speed Ellis.

In the third play, Aldridge is a little bit out of his shooting range when setting a high screen, and Chandler decides to block Mo Williams’ driving lane. Luckily, the Portland Trail Blazers decide to feed the ball to Joel Freeland in the low post after kicking out rather than abusing Aldridge’s mismatch by either just giving him the ball or running another pick-and-roll on the wing. Wesley Matthews also got Anthony in the air after a pump-fake but chose not to drive. It’s a possession the Trail Blazers could certainly have gotten more out of, even though they end up with an offensive rebound and a blown layup.

You could question the effort of Chandler on some of the plays, and he has looked lethargic and frustrated at times, but can you really blame him? 

As mentioned, the Knicks were terrible at bringing over weak-side help, which means that one simple defensive breakdown would usually lead to an easy basket. Just look at this inexplicable lapse on Stoudemire’s part:

It takes precisely five seconds for the Chicago Bulls to break down the Knicks in this possession (the time it took to bring the ball up the floor). Stoudemire simply fails to match up with Joakim Noah, as you can see in the screenshot below:

It doesn’t take Noah a long time to notice he isn’t being guarded, ask for the ball and drive to the basket. That forces Chandler to abandon his man in order to help, while Noah uses a simple bounce pass to hit the open Taj Gibson.

After that particular play, Chandler puts his head down in frustration. While playing with the Knicks, he was expected to make up for everyone else’s individual errors, but had very little help.

While offensive numbers generally decline with age, players rarely regress a great deal on the defensive end. Having bad defenders around you can be contagious, so there’s probably little reason to believe that Chandler won’t elevate his effort now that he is reunited with Carlisle.

It’s not like the last three years have completely robbed him of his excellent footwork and lateral movement. Take a look at how Chandler almost single-handedly shuts down a set play the Milwaukee Bucks run for Ersan Ilyasova:

He has no problem fighting over the initial screen, and once Ilyasova sets a back screen on Anthony, Chandler shoulder-bumps his cutting man just enough to allow the Knicks superstar to catch up. He then gets past two screens set for Ilyasova, closes out and forces him to dribble into Felton, who almost steals the ball. Chandler then steps into the paint to prevent any kind of driving attempt, which forces the Bucks to take a bad mid-range jumper.

When man-to-man wasn’t working, the Knicks also played some weird zone defense, switching everything on screens, which would generally create even more discombobulation than usual, along with mismatches all over the floor.

Carlisle is one of the best coaches in the league, and he should be more than capable of molding an above-average defense with a good old ace up his sleeve in Chandler.

Chandler Parsons is not exactly Shawn Marion, and neither are Jae Crowder or Al-Farouq Aminu, but all three should work well within Carlisle‘s system. Dallas runs a lot of zone, especially against teams that value dribble penetration, and having mobile wings with long arms who can close out on shooters and move their feet becomes increasingly important.

The Mavericks’ perimeter defense is still a little shaky on paper, but Carlisle can scheme around that. Even without Marion and Jason Kidd by his side, Chandler should be a lot more comfortable this season than he ever was in his three years under Mike D’Antoni’s and Mike Woodson’s tutelage.

He is more than capable of returning to his 2011 form, but it’s not a given. He was very injury-prone before joining the Mavericks, and he missed 27 regular-season games last year. He has played a lot more minutes and was asked to do infinitely more as a Knick, so there is certainly hope that Chandler can stay healthy if he plays less. He missed just eight games in 2010-11, playing 27.8 minutes per game, and a similar load would be reasonable now.

Dallas boasted the seventh-best defense in the league with Chandler, and while the Mavs might not reach that high this year, they should definitely improve significantly on the 22nd ranking of last year

This team has all the tools to be an offensive powerhouse, and Chandler’s mobility will get him a couple of easy baskets every game. Physically, he still has the capacity to be the same player he was three years ago on both ends of the floor, as long as the injury gods don’t get involved.

Not every player fits every system. For Chandler, the Knicks turned out to be a failed experiment, and some even suggested he might be washed up. With the Mavericks, he was surrounded with an excellent medical staff, and Carlisle did a great job managing his minutes. If we are to believe the Dallas head coach himself, Chandler will roll back the clock this season and we will see the same player who helped his team lift the Larry O’Brien trophy in 2011.


You can follow me on Twitter: @VytisLasaitis


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Rockets top Mavs 111-108 in preseason foul fest (Yahoo Sports)

DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 7: Chandler Parsons #25 of the Dallas Mavericks handles the ball against Trevor Ariza #1 of the Houston Rockets on October 7, 2014 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Danny Bollinger/NBAE via Getty Images)

DALLAS (AP) — James Harden scored 17 points, Kostas Papanikolaou made three big free throws with 0.2 seconds left and the Houston Rockets beat the Dallas Mavericks 111-108 in a foul-filled preseason opener for both teams Tuesday night.

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Mavs sign free agent forward Charlie Villanueva (Yahoo Sports)

DENVER, CO - MARCH 19: Charlie Villanueva #31 of the Detroit Pistons dribbles the ball against the Denver Nuggets on March 19, 2014 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

DALLAS (AP) — The Dallas Mavericks have signed free agent forward Charlie Villanueva, who spent the past five years with Detroit.

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Mavs sign free agent forward Charlie Villanueva

Mavericks add free agent forward Charlie Villanueva to put training camp roster at 19



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Chandler Parsons addition helps Mavs’ chances in the West

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Ron of FantasyBasketballMoneyLeagues.com. For more NBA news and updates, visit Fantasy Basketball Money Leagues today.Coming out of the University of Florida, Chandler Parsons was just looking to make an NBA roster. As a second-round pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, he was not guaranteed a contract. However, at 6-foot-9 he could spread the floor with his shooting ability. He made the Houston Rockets roster and had a successful rookie season, averaging about 10 points per game. After three years in Houston, he became the third option alongside James Harden and Dwight Howard, forming one of the top trios in the league. As a restricted free agent this offseason, though, the Rockets’ intra-state rival Dallas Mavericks pried away Parsons as they chase one more title with Dirk Nowitzki still on their roster. Dallas improved greatly with the Parsons acquisition, while the Rockets might regret not matching the Mavericks’ offer sheet as they move forward in the gauntlet

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Mavs bring back reserve C James for 3rd season (Yahoo Sports)

DALLAS (AP) — The Dallas Mavericks are bringing back reserve center Bernard James for a third season.

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Cuban: Mavs should have beaten Spurs in playoffs

File this under “should have, would have, could have.” The San Antonio Spurs had a relatively easy path to the 2014 NBA title except for the opening round series against the Dallas Mavericks. Dallas tested San Antonio and pushed the Spurs to seven games before eventually falling in San Antonio. However, at the end of the […]

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NBA suspends new Mavs G Felton for 4 games (Yahoo Sports)

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 4: Raymond Felton #2 of the New York Knicks handles the ball against the Washington Wizards during a game at Madison Square Garden in New York City. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

The NBA suspended new Dallas Mavericks guard Raymond Felton on Thursday for the first four games of the season after his guilty plea in a New York gun case. ”I demonstrated poor judgment and I take full responsibility for my actions,” Felton said in a statement released by the Mavericks. ”Moving forward I’m eager to get to Dallas, to start fresh and make a positive impact in the Dallas metropolitan area.” The criminal case arose last winter, as Felton dealt with the breakup of his marriage and a struggling season with the New York Knicks. Felton pleaded guilty July 23 in New York to attempted criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of a firearm.

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Nowitzki stays with Mavs for huge pay cut

Dirk Nowitzki’s latest contract will take him through three more years.



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