Going into this NBA season, I thought it would be one of the most fascinating year’s in league history. So far, it hasn’t disappointed. The Cavaliers and LeBron look confused and out of sync, and so do the Clippers. DeMarcus Cousins looks like he’s about to take the leap and become a top 10 player, and Chris Bosh is dominating without LeBron next to him.
The Dallas Mavericks have also had an interesting start to their most anticipated season since they won the 2011 title. I won’t jump to conclusions after a week and a half of the season, but I do have five big thoughts about the Mavs start so far:
1. The JJ Barea signing was brilliant: We can call Dallas re-acquiring JJ Barea another step in “bringing the band back together.” Some may even call it Mark Cuban admitting a mistake in blowing up that title team. Whatever the case, bringing back Barea, one of the most beloved players in this last few years of the franchise, was a great move. I wish nothing but the best for Gal Mekel, but he wasn’t going to play at all. Barea has been able to step in right away and play 15 to 20 minutes per game and add more depth to an already deep team. Plus, Dallas is paying him the veteran minimum so it was the definition of a low risk, high reward move. He knows the offense and knows how to play with Dirk Nowitzki, and we haven’t mentioned the Raymond Felton is still hurt and hasn’t served his suspension yet. It’s great seeing Barea back, and in a key role for Dallas no less.
2. Tyson Chandler needs to stay healthy: This one seems obvious, but it’s worth bringing up. Tyson Chandler has looked great to start the season and is jumping out of the gym on lobs. Him and Brandan Wright have created their own version of lob city in Dallas. But if he gets hurt, Dallas is in big trouble. I love Wright, but he’s not the defender and rim protector that Chandler is. Even when Chandler gets in foul trouble or goes to the bench, the Mavs defense just looks incredibly suspect. This is the risk that Dallas took when they re-acquired Chandler, but so far it has payed off.
3. Third quarter troubles are a problem: This has been the most fascinating part of this young season. In a lot of their games, Dallas builds up a big halftime lead with their explosive offense and it looks like they can’t miss and can do no wrong. Then, in the third quarter, they look out of sync and straight up bored. The thing is, this happened last year. People forget that Dallas’ offense was very good last year and built up plenty of big leads that they blew. One of the problems is definitely human nature. It’s easy to get bored when you’re up by 30 at halftime. The other is that it’s hard to shoot out of your mind for an entire game. Eventually, a team will regress even just a little bit, especially after halftime. That’s something that Dallas is just going to have to figure out an fight through.
4. Chandler Parsons will be worth it: Remember Chandler Parsons’ five-point dud against the San Antonio Spurs? I don’t either. since then, Parsons has looked like what the Mavs paid for to steal from Houston. He can score with his jump shot , or by driving inside, and he’s been an excellent re bounder and passer. Frankly, he’s looked pretty good on defense. The key for him is not doing too much and not putting to much pressure on himself to live up to that contract. As long as Parsons plays his game, he’ll be just fine.
5. The Southwest Division is ridiculous: We all knew the Western Conference would be a blood bath, but the Southwest Division is absolutely insane. There’s Dallas, who boasts the best offense in the NBA. There’s Memphis, who look as strong as ever with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. There’s Houston, who, even though they haven’t really played anyone, are playing extremely well with Dwight Howard and James Harden. Even Trevor Ariza has looked like a good signing for the Rockets. The Pelicans look great behind Anthony Davis, who looks dominant. And, of course, the Spurs are the Spurs. Dallas will definitely have their work cut out for them in this division, and they will need to rack up as many wins as they can during this early part of the season.