In a recent Q and A about the Dallas Mavericks we discussed season expectations, strengths, weaknesses, and worries heading into the 2015-16 season
Q: What are the Dallas Mavericks strengths and weaknesses this season?
The Mavericks #1 weakness heading into the 2015-16 season is undoubtedly the center position. Tyson Chandler, last season’s center, was well respected by Mark Cuban and the Mavs organization but was allowed to leave in free agency nonetheless.
The Mavs, interested in upgrading the center position, swung for the fences in the offseason when they tried to lure DeAndre Jordan. That obviously ended in a well-publicized nightmare that kept the Mavs from pursuing any top-end free agent while Jordan waffled on his decision.
In the end, the Mavs lost their prized free agent and their incumbent starter. Damage control involved signing a couple “Hail Mary” players (JaVale McGee and Salah Mejri), a has-been (Samuel Dalembert), and a one-dimensional scorer (ZaZa Pachulia).
As sad as it sounds, the coaching staff and on-team leadership are the Mavericks greatest strengths this season.
Q: What are your principle worries about the upcoming season?
Health. This team is extremely damaged right now and not expected to be healthy anytime soon. Wesley Matthews is returning from an Achilles injury, Chandler Parsons is coming back from a very significant knee injury, and JaVale McGee is, once again, unable to contribute for the foreseeable future.
Matthews and Parsons are expected to provide the majority of the team’s offense, amidst the autumn of Dirk Nowitzki’s career. Without them playing at, or near, peak performance, the scoring will be spread throughout the ranks. Given the magnitude of their injuries, it’s reasonable to think neither player will be at 100% at any point this season.
JaVale McGee is in the conversation because he provides the highest possible upside to the Mavericks this season. McGee has the tools to be great but injuries always seem to derail him. If the Mavs want to compete in the west they need a center capable of playing strong defense. McGee is the best option of the bunch in this regard.
Q: With such a strong Western Conference do the Dallas Mavericks have any chance at the playoffs this season?
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The Mavericks have a chance but it’s a long-shot. As mentioned previously, the injuries on this team are significant. If players like Chandler Parsons and Wesley Matthews don’t come back right away, the Mavs may dig an early season hole too deep to climb out of. Wes is on track but Parsons may take a while. Even if both come back, who’s to say they’ll be effective out of the gate?
The Mavs were at their best with Dirk at the 4 and Tyson Chandler (a defensive presense) at the 5. Chandler covered up for Dirk’s lack of defense. The frontrunner to claim the 5 spot this season is Zaza Pachulia. Zaza is a terrible defender and a terrible pairing for Nowitzki in the frontcourt.
Unless centers Salah Mejri or JaVale McGee surprise us and assume their vast potential, the Mavs in-the-paint defense will be a disaster. With so many injury questions at the moment, I’d say the Mavs have a 20% shot at the playoffs this season.
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