Playoffs: Swept in first round by Oklahoma City Thunder
Draft picks: Jae Crowder, Jared Cunningham, Bernard James
Signings/trades: O.J. Mayo, Chris Kaman, Darren Collison, Dahntay Jones, Elton Brand
Jason Terry, Jason Kidd, Ian Mahinmi, Yi Jianlian, Brian Cardinal, Brendan Haywood
Projected starting lineup
C - Chris Kaman
PF - Dirk Nowitzki
SF - Shawn Marion
SG - O.J. Mayo
PG - Darren Collison
What to expect
Two years removed from their first NBA championship, the Dallas Mavericks enter the 2012-13 season looking absolutely nothing like they did during that magical run. Gone is the mainstay and fan favorite Terry, and Kidd went cross-country to sign with the New York Knicks. Of course, last year, Tyson Chandler also inked a deal with the Knicks. Now, only Nowitzki, Marion, and Rodrigue Beaubois remain from that banner-winning ballclub.
To put it plainly, it doesn't appear that the Mavericks have enough to go on the type of journey they did in 2011, but they should have enough to make the playoffs. Also, given the fact that they were swept by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the postseason this past year, you have to give a lot of credit to Mark Cuban and the rest of the Dallas front office for doing a very admirable job in putting together a solid roster this summer.
I love the acquisition of Collison, as the Mavs didn't really give up anything of extraordinary value (Mahinmi) and got back a point guard with great potential. Let's remember that Collison is someone who put together a monster run with the New Orleans Hornets when Chris Paul went down with an injury during the 2009-10 campaign. From February right through the end of the season that year (a total of 35 games), he averaged 19 points and 8.6 assists per contest.
The Mavericks also signed a shooting guard with prolific scoring ability in Mayo. Mayo never really got the chance to truly shine with the Memphis Grizzlies, as he was upstaged by Rudy Gay and defensive wizard Tony Allen. In Dallas, the floor will be all his at the wing spot, and I expect him to feed off of Nowitzki and have a very impressive 2012-13 season.
One other thing I like about the Mavs heading into this year is their depth. By signing Brand and bringing back the likes of Vince Carter and Delonte West, they have a pretty reliable and experienced bench. They also have players such as Brandan Wright and Beaubois to provide a nice spark when needed.
Key player: Collison
I could have just copped out and said Dirk here, but I'm not going to do that.
Cuban went out and got Collison for a reason: he likes his potential. The 25-year-old will be the player who determines how far the Mavericks are going to get in 2013. While Nowitzki may not be the player he once was, you know he is still going to bring it and be good for 20+ points every night. With Collison, no one is too sure yet.
Is Dallas going to get the Collison everyone saw in New Orleans when he was doing his best CP3 impression, or is it going to get the one that was just traded for Mahinmi? That is the key to the Mavericks' 2012-13 campaign.
A rookie out of Marquette, Crowder may end up being one of the biggest steals of the 2012 NBA Draft.
The Mavs were able to snag him at No. 34 overall, and one can make a legitimate argument that the forward is a first-round talent.
Just look at his numbers.
The 6'6" Crowder averaged 17.5 points and 8.4 rebounds per game in his final year at Marquette, shooting the ball at a 49.8 percent clip in the process. He also displayed decent range, hitting on 34.5 percent of his three-point attempts.
People call Crowder a "tweener," but I don't think he'll have any problems consistently playing the small forward position on the NBA level. While not overly athletic, he certainly has the physical tools to stay with some of the quicker small forwards in the game, and he undoubtedly has the strength to match up with the bigger ones, as well.
Crowder is one of those players who does everything well but nothing great. Due to his versatility, look for him to contribute on Dallas this season.
The Mavericks will be one of those teams none of the upper echelon squads want to face in the first round of the postseason, but regardless, they just don't have enough to upend any of such clubs.
Dallas is in a pretty tough position right now. Nowitzki is 34, so it's not like it can just say, "Well, let's just wait until next year." Also, given that the Mavs will likely make the playoffs, they won't end up with a very good first-round draft pick.
Does Cuban make a move around the trade deadline to acquire another star to put alongside Dirk in the hopes of making another run? It remains to be seen. Nowitzki does have two years left on his contract, after all, and I just can't envision him demanding a trade from the Mavericks should things start going sour. He is too close with Cuban and too loyal to that organization for that to happen.
The Mavs will be an interesting team to watch this season. That's for sure.
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