After beating the Houston Rockets by one point in their last preseason game, the Dallas Mavericks aren’t looking as strong as they used to look.
Heading into the regular season with a 4-4 preseason record, anyone can say that they are just an addition to the Southwest conference.
It seems like everyone from the Miami Heat to the San Antonio Spurs has “big three superstars” on their team. The following are the three big factors keeping Dallas in the mix for the playoffs.
In 2000, he finished second in the league’s Most Improved Player voting; he became the first Maverick in team history to be named All-NBA team in 2001.
Averaged career and team-highs of 23.4 points per game (ppg) and 9.9 rebounds per game (rpg) in 38.0 minutes per game (mpg) in 76 games in 2002. For the two following years, he still produced career and team-highs.
Last year, he played in 81 games for an average of 37.5 mpg. He had 7.70 rpg, 2.7 apg, and 25 ppg.
And as much as preseason games don't matter--Dirk,unlike many starters, played in six of the eight preseason games for 30 mpg. Those preseason games meant something to him and his team, if most of the starters participated.
He still managed to average some of the highest numbers in the categories; he averaged 6.20 rpg, 1.5 assists per game (apg), and 17.2 ppg.
He’s no Kobe Bryant on the court, but he holds the same prominence to the Mavericks.
Dirk may have posted his lowest averages in rebounds (7.7) and 3-pointers (0.6) since his second season in the league, but he is still one of the safest investments around, despite the modest decline in his numbers.
Dirk still gets it done in a big way in the percentages and points scored, and that doesn't figure to change anytime soon. In his past 11 seasons, Dirk has missed a total of just 29 games--a type of domination all in itself.
At some point, Kidd will begin to show signs of age, but the 37-year-old hasn't slowed down much yet.
Defying the odds for yet another season, Kidd averaged 10.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 9.1 assists, 1.8 steals and 2.2 three-pointers in 2009-10.
During the preseason, Kidd played in six games for an average of 21.3 minutes. He managed 3.8 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 4.7 points.
With numbers like those, it's hard to point to anything that suggests that he's beginning to slow down. Of course, he can't produce forever, but Kidd definitely has enough left in the tank for another season.
Butler fit in nicely after a midseason trade sent him packing to Dallas, averaging 15.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 0.6 3-pointers in 27 contests.
During the regular season, he totaled 16.3 ppg, 2.1 apg, 6.2 rpg, and 1.57 steals.
In the preseason, Butler saw about 28.1 minutes of court time in seven games. He is second in most points, with 15.3 ppg, and 4.3 rpg.
In a lineup with as many options as the Mavericks have, Butler will not be his old 20-point-per-game self, but he's always been a top steals artist and will still add around 15-16 points per game. Minor injuries will remain a concern, but Butler is a solid teammate and a major part of their success.
Yes, the Mavericks have a good roster, as do all three of the Texas teams. With all three of those teams entering the regular season with four preseason wins, it’s hard to determine which will dominate in the Southwest (granted Memphis went 8-0 during the preseason and San Antonio and Houston's teams starters didn't play nearly as much).
One thing is certain: these Texas teams each have three big players that will help them in succeeding a possible playoff series.
Don’t leave the Mavericks out of the mix just yet; last time I checked, the San Antonio Spurs had some of the oldest aged players and the Houston Rockets were infamous for their players many injuries.