2013-2014 NBA Preview: Southwest Division

5 of 5

Oct 14, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) comes off the court during the second half against the Orlando Magic at American Airlines Center. The Magic defeated the Mavericks 102-94. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Mavericks (36-46)

First things first, I’m probably lower on Dallas than many people are, so I’ll begin with the positives. Dirk Nowitzki is a freak of nature, and one of the most entertaining players in the entire NBA. Dirk just completed his age-34 season averaging 20 points and 8 rebounds per 36 minutes, and he did so while being visibly injured. Give him a full off-season to recover, and I’d expect those numbers to jump (even at age 35) back to a star level. Unfortunately for Dirk (and Dallas Fans), that is the most positive thing I have to say about the Mavs.

Dallas has a new-look backcourt as they brought in Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon to man the guard spots. Ellis is a player that I have all kinds of issues with, but he does have a strong skillset to score the basketball, and that is undeniable. However, he is exceedingly inefficient (41.6 FG%, 28.7% 3-PT last season) offensively while being an absolute train wreck on defense, which brings his value down to about a league-average commodity. Pair that with Calderon (who I actually love), who’s defense is a tick above a catastrophe, and you have serious issues on that side of the court.

On Calderon, I love his game offensively, and he’s an incredibly efficient player. For his career, the 32-year-old point guard has shooting averages of 48% FG, 40% 3-point, and 88% free throw, and he’s done that while averaging 9 assists per 36 minutes. In short, he’s a fantastic offensive player, but he has also been brittle (appearing in only 61 games per season) and his defense is getting worse with the age.

In the frontcourt, Dallas already lost Brandan Wright for a long period of time as a result of an injury, leaving Samuel Dalembert as the lone rim protector on the roster. On the wing, Vince Carter and Shawn Marion are back, but each guy is 35 years or older, and it’s aggressive to presume that both players will be a) healthy, and b) effective. I did like the Devin Harris acquisition as a quality 3rd guard, but I’m not sure he can mask the other issues.

I will admit that this projection could be flawed because Dallas has a top-5 coach in Carlisle and a legitimate superstar in Dirk, but I just can’t see Dallas challenging for the playoffs with the roster holes they have.


Stay tuned for the next installment, as we head to the Eastern Conference!