Rick Carlisle and the Mavericks coaching staff will certainly have their work cut out for them this season.
With the offseason almost done and training camp looming on the horizon, the time a serious look at the Dallas Mavericks is upon us. No more wondering what the team will look like as there aren't any more major moves to make. The 2013-14 Dallas Mavericks are, for all intensive purposes, constructed.
And like all NBA teams, the Mavericks have problems. Certainly fewer problems than last season, but problems nonetheless.
And some are more pressing than others. If the Mavs want to have a successful season, there are some issues they need to figure out pronto. We'll cover those ones that need some serious attention now, before anything else can happen.
Let's get to it.
No, he's not Dwight Howard, but Monta Ellis is the best free agent the Mavs brought in this offseason. This is a tad alarming considering their copious amounts of cap room and other attractive assets the franchise had to offer.
But that's another topic for another day. Today we look at just how the Mavs hope to integrate Ellis into their team.
In Milwaukee, Ellis had the reputation as a loose cannon on offense. He averaged just over 19 points per game on 17.5 shots per game, and had shooting percentages of 41.6 from the field and 28.7 from deep. If that's not inefficient, I'm not sure what is.
The Mavericks did not bring Ellis in for those stats. They brought him in for the stats he put up in Golden State.
In 2011, Ellis averaged 24.1 points per game on 20.1 shots while shooting 45.1 percent from the field and 36.1 percent from deep. Nothing crazily efficient, but miles ahead of where he was in Milwaukee.
If Dallas can find a way to get Ellis to recapture those Golden State ways, they've either got themselves a great sixth man or a solid starter. He seems to be destined to be a better Jason Terry, but that's only possible if he plays well.
And at this stage in his career, Dirk Nowitzki sure needs Monta Ellis to be good. Not only would that provide a second scorer in the offense, but a second creator as well. Ellis has averaged six assists over the past two seasons to go along with all his points.
That passing skill is just overshadowed by his inefficiency.
If Rick Carlisle and the Mavs can find a way to improve Ellis's shot selection, they have a great piece. If not, it's going to be a long season.
If Dallas wants to be in that playoff hunt, they need to devote time and energy right now to figuring out the Monta Ellis puzzle.
Or at least deciding if it can be fixed. Here's to hoping it can.
The Dallas Mavericks allowed 101.7 points per game last season, fourth-worst in the league. They were out-rebounded by 3.7 per game, third from the bottom of the NBA. They allowed 7.8 threes per game—only four teams were worse.
And their defensive personnel isn't as good this year.
Defense has never been Dirk's forte, and he's a year older. Ellis and Jose Calderon are notoriously poor defenders, and Vince Carter is limited. And they replaced guys like OJ Mayo and Darren Collison, players who could actually hold their own on defense.
Yes, the Mavericks still have Shawn Marion and they added Samuel Dalembert. But Marion is now 35, and Dalembert is fragile and 32. Not exactly guys to build a defense around.
The Mavs did also bring back Brandan Wright, and Jae Crowder brings plenty of energy on the defensive end.
But the bottom line is the returning players were a part of one of the worst defenses in the league. And the new additions are even worse on defense than their counterparts from the previous season.
These are the situations where coaches really earn their money. Carlisle has to make Dallas a respectable defensive team again. Not a defensive juggernaut, just a team that doesn't routinely give up 100 points per game.
And with the personnel in place that's a tall order. But that's why Carlisle gets the big bucks.
These are the two big glaring problems for the Mavs. Incorporating new players is difficult, but before Dallas worries about that, they need to make sure Dirk has a viable sidekick and work on that atrocious defense.
These are the things training camp is for, so keep your eyes peeled for any news about those two issues, because they're immensely important for the upcoming season.