Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks had long been labeled as underperformers and even chokers by many in the media, but those labels were shed during their great playoff run last season. Dallas fell behind Miami 2-1 in the NBA Finals, but they ran off three straight victories to take home the title.
The Mavericks went 57-25 in the regular season last year, but it was in the playoffs when everything really started to click.
Jason Kidd provided the team veteran leadership at the point guard position throughout the playoffs. Jason Terry continued to show that he can knock down tough shots in the clutch. Shawn Marion’s versatility on the defensive end really helped the Mavericks in a big way.
Marion was placed on the opponent’s best player almost every single game and he came through in a big way. Nowitzki made shots that no other player in the league can make. He also did a nice job on the glass in the postseason.
It was a season to remember for the Mavericks, but now it is time to get back to work again. Repeating as NBA champions is an extremely difficult task. This year’s team will look a little bit different, but they will still have the same nucleus of players.
Can the Mavericks make it with back-to-back titles?
While the biggest names are still in Dallas, there was quite a bit of turnover in the roster.
Tyson Chandler was a major catalyst for the Mavericks defensively last year, but he moved on to New York in the offseason. J.J. Barea gave the team some huge minutes against Miami, but he’ll be a member of the Timberwolves this year. Caron Butler was out during the team’s playoff run last year, but losing him was significant.
The good news for the Mavericks is that Mark Cuban did a nice job bringing in some top-notch new talent. No matter what you think of him as a person, no one can deny that Cuban does a great job working to get the best players on the floor for this franchise.
The Lamar Odom deal with the Lakers was quite lopsided in the Mavericks' favor. I believe Odom was an underrated piece of the puzzle in Los Angeles, and he should be a big help to Dallas right away.
Vince Carter certainly isn’t what he used to be, but he should still be an asset to the team. Delonte West gives the team some more depth in the backcourt.
In addition to getting these players, Cuban did a great job getting rid of some long-term contracts. The Mavericks should be able to make a push for a major free agent such as Deron Williams or Dwight Howard next year.
2011-12 Dallas Mavericks Schedule
You could see this one coming from a mile away. Yes, indeed, ABC will televise a rematch of the NBA Finals on Christmas Day to open the shortened regular season. It should be a great way to kick off the new season.
The first of many back-to-backs will also be the first two games of the season, since Dallas will host Denver on Dec. 26. Dallas has a difficult schedule to finish off the season.
2011-12 Dallas Mavericks NBA Futures Odds
The oddsmakers know how difficult it is to win consecutive NBA titles. Dallas is listed at 10/1 to win the 2012 NBA Championship, according to odds from Bovada.
It is slightly surprising that four teams are given better odds than the Mavericks, but some might believe that all the moves in the offseason disrupted the team chemistry.
2011-12 Dallas Mavericks Predictions
Nowitzki has cemented his status as one of the best power forwards of all time, and I expect another huge season from him. This is a driven guy who will do everything he can to push his team to another title.
Chandler will likely be the toughest guy to replace because of his great interior defense. Brendan Haywood is going to be asked to do a lot this year, and I’m not sure he’ll be able to shoulder the load.
Can Odom fit right into the Mavericks system right away? If he can, this could be a tough team to match up against come playoff time.
Some might be expecting a bit of a hangover from the Mavericks, but I think this team will have another big season. It’s hard to predict a team to win consecutive titles, but I think the Mavs have a chance to make some noise and the NBA futures odds set up real nicely for them.
Doc Moseman is the owner of Doc’s Sports NBA picks Web site.