For the Dallas Mavericks, the 2012 offseason was all about recovery.
First, the Mavs had to recover from missing out on the "big fish" from this offseason—Dallas native Deron Williams who opted to remain with Brooklyn.
Then, Dallas had to deal with losing their backcourt from the last half a decade, Jason Kidd and Jason Terry.
Many believed Dallas would not be able to come anywhere close to fielding a team that would be a contender next season.
However, the Mavericks were able to pull a rabbit out of their hat, and sign multiple experienced and young talented players to form a formidable squad for next season.
Still, the Mavericks are not really mentioned among the best teams in the Western Conference by most experts going into the 2012-2013 year.
But when you look closely at their roster, it becomes clearer that Dallas could really be a team who could surprise people next season.
Here are five reasons the Mavericks are one of the most underrated teams in the league, heading into the 2012-2013 season.
One thing that Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban did particularly well this offseason was load up on the Mavericks bench to ensure that they would be one of the deepest teams in the west.
In the frontcourt, Dallas brought in Elton Brand, and brought back Brandan Wright to sure up their reserves behind Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman. They also will have energetic Jae Crowder from Marquette to back up Shawn Marion at the small forward position.
In the backcourt, they offer up Delonte West, who was great for Dallas last season, former superstar Vince Carter, defensive specialist Dahanty Jones and young players oozing with potential Rodrigue Beaubois, Dominique Jones and Jared Cunningham.
Dallas's bench ensures that they will be protected if they suffer from the injury bug this season, and it also gives Rick Carlisle the ability to mix and match with the rotation.
Having a bench as deep as Dallas' will be one of their biggest assets next season.
With the multitude of competitive teams in the west next season, Dallas is continuing to get lost in the shuffle.
However, one thing that Dallas has that those other teams do not next season, is that they will be going into the year with the mindset of being disrespected.
Despite the fact that Dallas has five former All-Star's on their roster, as well as a plethora of young talented players, more often than not, Dallas is being left out of the top five or six teams in predictions for the Western Conference in 2012-2013.
In fact, many are even predicting that Dallas could miss the playoffs altogether.
Being as great of a motivator as he is, it is ensured that Rick Carlisle will use that to his advantage this year and try to turn the Mavericks into an "us against the world" type of team.
Despite being just two years removed from a title and with some excellent offseason additions complimenting Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas will feel as though they are being severely overlooked and underrated, and that will fuel them next season.
One thing that is overlooked about Dallas next year is that they still have one of the premiere player-coaching combinations in the entire NBA with Dirk Nowitzki and Rick Carlisle.
Nowitzki has made 12 All-NBA teams in his Mavericks career, and he hasn't lost a beat at age 34.
In 2011, Nowitzki reached his peak leading the Mavs to a championship. Last year, even with having one of the weakest seasons of his career, he still managed to make the All-NBA third-team and was an All-Star for the 11th time in his illustrious career.
Nowitzki has transformed his game over the last decade into being one of the best scorers, and really players, the league has ever seen. This year, he should be highly motivated to re-establish his greatness with plenty of new talent coming into Dallas
Carlisle on the other hand remains one of the most under-appreciated coaches in the league.
Carlise has been nothing but successful on the NBA level, and he is one of only four active NBA coaches (with Gregg Poppovich, Doc Rivers, and Eric Spoelstra) to have led his team to a championship.
Carlisle and Nowitzki have proven to be champions together before, and although I won't go as far as to say they will do the same this year, they simply must be taken seriously as contenders as long as they both stay in Dallas.
Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Jared Cunningham.
That is the list of players who have guaranteed contracts with the Dallas Mavericks for the 2013-2014 season.
Every other player on the roster is either in an expiring year of their contract, or has a player option, team option or qualifying offer after this season.
What that means, is that from a personal standpoint, each of the players on the Mavs next season will have something to prove to either Dallas, or a different potential suitor in next year's offseason.
Veterans like Chris Kaman, Elton Brand, Vince Carter, and Delonte West will need to prove that they are not over the hill if they want to find a home after next year, or at least somewhere who is willing to pay the salaries they are making this year with Dallas.
O.J. Mayo and Darren Collison, have come to Dallas to show off their skills, and want to prove they are more than just backups in the league. Both of them will set out to have career numbers, so that they can get paid once their contract runs out.
Altogether, having as many players on a team who are out to prove themselves in a contract season can only help the team, as long as not too many players worry too much about padding stats instead of winning games.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not predicting that the Mavericks will be NBA champions in 2013.
Still, when you look at the Mavericks roster this year, and you look at the Mavericks roster in 2011 when they won an NBA championship, at least from a talent standpoint, there isn't much separation.
Tyson Chandler may have been a great defensive center, but Chris Kaman is more refined on offense.
Darren Collison may not have Jason Kidd's passing skills and feel for the game, but Kidd was 38 when the Mavs won the title, and Collison is a much more athletic and capable scorer.
Jason Terry was as important as anyone and stepped up in key moments as the Mavs No. 2 option, but O.J. Mayo can also easily fill that role.
The comparison's go on and on. Delonte West vs. JJ Barea, Vince Carter/Beaubois/Dahanty Jones vs. DeShawn Stevenson, Elton Brand vs. Brendan Haywood, and although in the end I do feel as though the 2011 team was better, the talent from this year's team certainly feels similar to what Dallas had two years ago.
Still, what Dallas had that season that isn't necessarily measurable is team chemistry, which will be a question mark for this Dallas team this season.
However if the Mavs can duplicate what they were able to do from a team unity standpoint in 2011, their talent should allow them to be successful.