Welcome to theScore’s 2016-17 NBA preview, where you’ll find comprehensive coverage of all 30 teams and storylines to watch this season.
Who knew the allure of playing with Dirk Nowitzki during the twilight of his career wouldn’t be enough to woo big names on the open market?
The organization inked Harrison Barnes to a max contract, acquired Andrew Bogut on a salary-dump deal, and also added Seth Curry and Quincy Acy. The Mavs also re-signed Deron Williams, Dwight Powell, and Nowitzki.
While there’s been no shortage of detractors of the team’s latest offseason reload, it just might be crazy enough to work.
Here’s how the Mavericks can get out of the first round for the first time since 2011 – when they won the title – with the help of their signings:
Winning mentality: Barnes proves doubters wrong
You’d be hard-pressed to find many people who believe Barnes will be worth his $94-million deal.
That’s because he got star money, and the 6-foot-8 small forward has done little over his four-year NBA career to prove he can be a star at this level.
Both the eye test and his subpar stats – including 10.1 points per game and a PER of 11.6 – suggest Barnes is a role player, as he has been in Golden State, where he was overshadowed by three All-Stars.
In Dallas, he’ll be entrusted with a larger role that will see him handle the ball and score more. The Mavericks took a leap of faith, paying Barnes in hopes he can evolve into their franchise player.
At the very least, the 24-year-old’s younger, more athletic, and less of an injury risk than the player he’s replacing in the rotation: Chandler Parsons.
Barnes also happens to be smart, and understands what it takes to win. Say what you will about his role on the squad, but the fifth-year pro’s suited up in back-to-back Finals, won a championship in 2015, and won an Olympic gold medal at the Rio Games.
He can provide much-needed help on the glass (Dallas ranked 26th in rebound differential last year) and on defense (16th), where half the battle might be making up for Nowitzki’s shortcomings. So, too, can fellow ex-Warrior Bogut, who represents an upgrade over Zaza Pachulia – especially defensively, as the Aussie’s a much better rim-protector.
More threes: Curry cooks like his brother
The Mavericks hope they can get reliable outside shooting from Curry, who knocked down 3-pointers at a 45 percent clip and had a true shooting percentage of 60.3 last season.
The 26-year-old combo guard has been working on his shot creation and breaking down opposing defenses. But even if all he does is catch, shoot, and hit open looks, the Mavs will be thrilled, as that’s something they lacked last year.
Despite attempting the fifth-most threes per contest, the team made just 34.4 percent (23rd) of their long bombs. Of its 28.6 nightly 3-point attempts, 21 came from catch-and-shoot opportunities.
Barnes is another player who thrives on those looks, as virtually all of his made threes were assisted. Justin Anderson and Powell both spent the summer working on their 3-point shooting, as well, which can’t hurt.
Since head coach Rick Carlisle demands his guys drive into the paint and kick out to open teammates on the perimeter, clean looks from deep should continue to present themselves. With more accurate sharpshooters, the 10th-ranked offense last year could become even better.
Veteran leadership: Dirk still has it
Dallas capped off an eventful summer by awarding Nowitzki for his loyalty (and previous hometown discounts) over 18 seasons with a two-year, $50-million deal.
At 38, Nowitkzi has clearly lost a few steps – especially defensively – but he’s still Dallas’ most dangerous offensive weapon.
The 7-foot German put up 18.3 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 1.8 assists while shooting 44.8 percent from the field and 36.8 percent from beyond the arc in 31.5 minutes per contest in 2015-16.
Though it's expected he'll regress further in the upcoming campaign, the future Hall of Famer has said he'll only continue to play for as long as his body lets him. So, provided the 13-time All-Star does suit up and maintain some semblance of his recent production, it'll bode well for his squad's chances of advancing to the second round.
The Mavericks have a better roster overall than they did last season, when they finished seventh in the West with 42 wins. No, they aren't a superteam. They're not particularly athletic or quick, either. But they're smart, and play at a slow, methodical pace.
They also have experienced veterans who’ve had success in their careers – including Nowitzki, Bogut, Devin Harris, Deron Williams, Wesley Matthews, and J.J. Barea – and a coach who gets the most out of his roster, especially during the playoffs.
Dallas has exceeded expectations and surprised in the past, so don’t count it out just yet.
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