Mavs ‘10-11 Preview
30 teams in 30 days.
by Maurice Bobb / @reesereport
It’s fitting that bajillionaire Mark Cuban had a cameo on HBO’s Entourage as himself this summer considering that legions of the show’s fans believe that the hit series officially “jumped the shark” this season with its dark character arcs.
Whether or not the network’s longest-running scripted show actually began its decline is worthy of debate, but NBA fans are having a similar discussion about Cuban’s basketbll team: Have the Dallas Mavericks jumped the shark?
Sure, the Mavs have been consistently good. How else could they have orchestrated 10 consecutive 50-win seasons? But as good as they’ve been, they haven’t been able to get back to the promise land after their historic meltdown during the 2006 NBA Finals when they were felled by the Miami Heat in six games after securing a 2-0 advantage going into Game 3.
The Mavs returned the following year to secure a franchise-best 67 regular season wins behind the brilliant play of 2007 MVP Dirk Nowitzki only to be on the receiving end of NBA history after being the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 8 seed (Golden State) in a best of seven series. The Mavs then bowed out in the first round in 2008, lost to Denver in the second round 4-1 in 2009 and went fishing after the Spurs took them out 4-2 in the first round last year.
So yeah, Dallas has the regular season on lock, but it don’t mean a thing if you don’t get that ring.
With pockets deeper than the Gulf of Mexico, it’s surprising that Cuban hasn’t taken a page from the NY Yankees playbook and bought a championship, but so far, money can’t buy him title love.
This summer, the Mavs surprised no one by resigning Nowitzki to a four-year, $80 million contract, jettisoned center Erick Dampier for 2010 FIBA World Champ Tyson Chandler and Alexis Ajinca, brought in Steve Novak and made a draft night trade for Dominique Jones. When compared to the moves made by other teams in the L, Dallas gets a C- for their offseason.
Based on their quiet summer, the Mavs are hoping Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood will continue to find their way in Rick Carlisle’s system and help the team go deep into the Western Conference playoffs.
Dallas is also banking on second-year guard Rodrigue Beaubois having a break through year and living up to his nickname, Roddy Buckets, despite not being ready to go at the start of the season due to foot injury.
Of course, the Mavs will continue to ride the coattails of nine-time All-Star Nowitzki, the team’s most productive player after averaging 25.0 ppg, 7.7 rpg and 2.7 apg last year. And Jason Kidd successfully reinvented himself, fixed his broken J and racked up 10.3 points, 5.6 points and 9.1 dimes per contest. Jason Terry’s numbers dipped from 19.6 ppg to 16.6 last season, but he is still instant offense off the bench. Shawn Marion’s numbers have been in steady decline since 2006, but he can still pad the stat sheet when called upon.
Coach Carlisle has praised rookie Dominique Jones’ defensive acumen off the bench, so look for him to steal time in the backcourt and DeShawn Stevenson looks like he’s opting to forgo his usual antics in favor of making a real contribution to the team. The rest of the bench looks good with JJ Barea, Steve Novak and Ian Mahinmi.
Make no mistake, Dallas knows that its window of opportunity is closing and has to be serious about making a run this season. Look for the Mavs to improve to 57 or 58 wins and challenge the West.
Has Dallas jumped the shark? The evidence points towards the affirmative. But like anything, all of those opinions go out the window if they finally shake off their playoff demons and bring home the Larry O’Brien trophy.
First off the bench: Jason Terry and Tyson Chandler
Projected record: 57-25
Playoff run: If Butler and Chandler play to their potential, look for Dallas to contend for the Western Conference Finals.
Previous Season Previews can be found in the archive.