Pretty Much Screwed: The 2013-14 Dallas Mavericks
Welcome to “Pretty Much Screwed,” our definitive guide to the upcoming NBA season. This team-by-team preview details why it’s probably not your favorite team’s year. Today: We discuss the pros and cons of the Dallas Mavericks, and why it all adds up to them being screwed once again.
Before we begin, let's review what it means to be pretty much screwed in this year's NBA:
1) You aren't the Miami Heat.
2) You aren't an amazing team that some analysts might pick to knock off the Miami Heat.
This is because there are some great teams and historically great players in the NBA nowadays. And to compete for a title is not what fans and teams and players want -- they want to win a title. And how do teams win titles? A combination of these factors:
1) They get lucky.
2) They have a good offense.
3) They have a great defense.
And guess what, folks?
This year's iteration of the Mavericks only satisfies one of those requirements.
So to be clear: The Mavericks might be a good team. They will probably be an exciting team. They might even make some noise in the playoffs (doubtful, but possible). But this is not a championship-caliber team because their defense will be somewhere between horrendous and pretty bad.
The first thing that a defense needs is cohesion. A bad defender can become good in the right scheme; a good defender can become elite if he's got help. The Mavericks, outside of their core (their "core" being one guy named Dirk Nowitzki), are an entirely new team this year: nine players are out, and nine new ones are in. Even if those nine new guys were defensive first-teamers, they would need time to learn each other's tendencies and get comfortable communicating with one another. This process occurs when one new guy joins the team -- nine is an impossibly tall order.
The second thing that a defense needs is guys who are committed to playing defense. The Mavericks don't have that. They have a good but old on-the-ball defender in Shawn Marion and a dude who used to block a lot of shots in Samuel Dalembert and that's about it. You have a better chance of convincing Monta Ellis to eat raw sewage, or pass the ball, than you will of getting him to play D. Jose Calderon is slow. Vince Carter is old. And Nowitzki, like Ellis, has always been much more of an offensive weapon than defensive. There will be no defensive anchor on this team.
The third thing a defense needs is not Renaldo Balkman. The Mavericks have Renaldo Balkman.
In all seriousness, the Mavericks were 27th in points allowed last year, 17th in forced turnovers and 12th in opponent field goal percentage. Adding DeJuan Blair [Ed. note: no offense bud, love ya] and Wayne Ellington while losing Chris Kaman and Darren Collison isn't going to improve those numbers.
It doesn't matter how explosive the offense is -- and we're looking forward to seeing Dirk and Monta get buckets -- if the defense can't hold up their end of the bargain. Hence: screwed.
Three things to know about the Mavericks:
1) They have two rookie point guards: one from Miami (FL) and one from Israel. Oy vey!
2) Last year was the first season since Mark Cuban took over the team in 2000 that they missed the playoffs.
3) They are looking for new uniforms by crowd-sourcing suggestions. The results are middling at best.
Actual season prediction: 43-39, ninth in the West. More of Dirk's weird beard.
Photo via Getty
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