One year ago, this Dallas Mavericks squad looked relatively hopeless. Though they were competing for a playoff spot, the team was in limbo. It was an organization in transition, and the Mavs looked more like a bunch of individual players than a cohesive team.
Fast-forward a year, and the franchise seems revived. The pieces fit better, the team plays with more life, and best of all, the Mavericks have the record of a bona fide playoff team.
But in this hypercompetitive Western Conference, Dallas cannot be complacent. The team needs to take their game up a notch to assure themselves of a playoff spot. And they specifically need to look to five players for a boost down the stretch.
They may be guys who need to improve, or guys who the Mavs can't afford to lose. Bottom line: They are the players to watch as Dallas chases a spot in the playoffs.
All statistics, unless otherwise noted, are courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.