2014-2015 NBA Season Analysis- Dallas Mavericks
The Dallas Mavericks have arguably the best starting line-up in the entire Association, as well as one of the best coaches in Rick Carlisle. However, I don’t think they’re deep enough to be one of the top teams in the Western Conference. They do have good guards coming off the bench, but their front court rotation is just too short, so I believe we’ll see their starters play a bunch of minutes in order to be competitive, and this is something that can really hurt them in the second part of the Regular Season and ultimately the Playoffs.
Coach: Rick Carlisle
PG: Rajon Rondo; Devin Harris; Jose Juan Barea; Raymond Felton
SG: Monta Ellis; Ricky Ledo
SF: Chandler Parsons; Richard Jefferson; Al-Farouq Aminu
PF: Dirk Nowitzki; Dwight Powell; Charlie Villanueva
C: Tyson Chandler; Greg Smith
Let’s try to break the Mavericks’ offense down first:
First of all, Rondo’s acquisition certainly changes their offense because he’s a completely different type of point guard. He’s going to help them in several areas where he’s one of the best in the league and has proven to be capable of running a championship team. However, I believe he can hurt the Mavs’ offense a little bit as well due to his inability to knock jump shots down consistently. There’s no question Rajon Rondo will help them improve ball movement, he’s going to find the open man, feed Chandler with lobs, recognize miss-matches and so on, as he’s always done, so I believe he can certainly get the Mavs’ offense going, what makes them an incredibly dangerous team due to how many offensive weapons they’ve got in their roster (mainly in the starting line-up).
But, on the other hand, he can become an offensive liability in certain situations. One of the Mavericks’ best weapons is that high pick and roll with Nowitzki and either Monta Ellis or Barea (you can see plenty of those down the stretch). The fact that they’re all threats puts the opposing power forward in a tough spot: in you don’t stop the guards’ penetration because you’re too concerned about Nowitzki (pretty understandable), they’re going to get to the painted area and both are outstanding finishers at the rim as well as capable passers (a defender rotating over to stop the penetration opens up the lob for Chandler as well as the possibility to find an open man like Parsons, Devin Harris or even Villanueva); and if you do stop their penetration, Nowitzki’s going to end up either wide open or with a miss-match with your point guard, and we all know what this means (he’s 7th in the All-Time scoring list for a reason). So what teams are doing right now when Rondo is on the court is send his defender to double team Nowitzki in those situations and make him find the open Rondo. Thus, his inability to consistently get jump shots to go allows the opposing team to stop both Ellis’ or Barea’s penetrations and Nowitzki’s jump shots from the top of the key, and this really hurts the Mavs. Obviously, the ideal situation would be for Rondo to really improve his jump shot and become an outside threat but he has to try to make an impact offensively without that ability. In those situations, I believe he needs to do kind of what Tony Allen does for the Grizzlies (he knows he’s not an outside threat at all but he makes his presence felt by constantly moving without the ball and making multiple cuts to the basket where he’s a much better finisher as well as a much improved passer).
Another of their main offensive strengths is the fact that they have multiple ball handlers that can create plays for others, not only their point guards but also Monta Ellis and Chandler Parsons, what gives the Mavs great versatility and makes it really hard for teams to defend them.
Obviously, they also need to give Dirk some touches on the post, where he’s just amazing and can shoot over any defender as he’s done throughout his entire career. But again, Rondo’s lack of consistent outside shooting will allow the opposing team to double team Nowitzki on the post unlike what happens when he’s surrounded by shooters, so Rajon really needs to find a way to be effective and score the basketball if he wants to get his team to another level.
Then, perimeter players like Ellis, Parsons, Devin Harris and Barea, who all have the ability to put the ball on the deck, need to stay aggressive and attack the painted area to put pressure on the defence as opposed to settling for outside shots, what will eventually open up wide open shots for such good shooters, and allow them to get to the free throw line more often.
Finally, the Mavs need Tyson Chandler to do what he does best, that is finish around the rim, set solid screens and crash the offensive glass to give them extra possessions (one of the best in the business); and somehow get some contribution from their front court players coming off the bench.
It’s now the turn for the defensive end of the court.
This is the area where Rajon Rondo is really going to help them become a much better team. He’s a guy who puts a lot of pressure on the opposing guard, who makes it really tough for them to be effective, and gets a lot of steals and deflections because of his quickness and long arms. His great basketball IQ and court awareness also makes him one of the best in the league at turning defence into offense, and with guys that love to get out and run like Ellis and Parsons, this could be a potential great weapon for them to score some easy points in transition.
They’ve also got one of the league’s best interior defenders in Tyson Chandler, who can certainly defend any big in the low post, what allows them to defend without having to double team those gifted opposing bigs and that’s really priceless. He’s also a great rebounder, and alongside Nowitzki (an underrated defensive rebounder) and the help they get from outside players like Parsons or Rondo (one the best point guards in the league in this department), the Mavs can become a dominant rebounding team.
Also, with the ability of Rondo and Ellis to switch defensively as well as Parsons’ to defend small forwards 1-on-1 rather successfully, I believe the can become a good defensive team. However, the pace the Mavs like to play with makes them allow more points than they should if you take a look at their defensive potential.
To sum up, if Rondo can find a way to score the basketball consistently and they can either add some front court player to the rotation before the trade deadline or somehow get something out of what they’ve already got, I believe the Dallas Mavericks have the potential to compete with anybody in this league.
Likely Starting Line-up
Rondo – Ellis – Parsons – Nowitzki – Chandler
As I said, although the Dallas Mavericks are a pretty dangerous basketball team with big time players, I believe they’re not deep enough to compete for the top spots in the terrific Western Conference so I predict they’ll finally clinch #6 seed in the West and will have to deal with no home court advantage from the very beginning of the 2015 NBA Playoffs.
Can the Mavs be a contender in the loaded Western Conference?
These are some of the top plays from the Dallas Mavericks in the last seasons: