After a historic championship run last year, the Dallas Mavericks limped out of the gate to start this season. They dropped four out of their first five games and quickly learned that, as the reigning champs, they have a target on their back.
Since, they've responded respectfully. They recently just pumped out six straight victories and now find themselves in the top four squads in the Western Conference.
What they've learned thus far is that every year beckons for new roles for each individual player.
This year's team is not the same one that hoisted the Larry O'Brien trophy last June. Not only did they bid farewell to key ingredients from last year's group (particularly Tyson Chandler, and also J.J. Barea and DeShawn Stevenson), but they also possess aging veterans whose roles are dwindling and youngsters whose roles are increasing.
As we hit the All-Star break, now is the appropriate time to assess how every Mavs player is faring in their current role.
Here are their grades as we hit the halfway point.