Only 26 days until the Dallas Mavericks season finally gets under way. This is by far the hardest offseason to analyze. The Mavs will either be legitimate contenders or lose the streak of 50 wins they have established over the course of 8 straight seasons. Preseason begins Tuesday, and no one can for sure know how this season will shape up, but many questions are brought to mind. DallasDedicated is here to run through them all and give you our bias thought on all things Mavs-related.
Who knows if Josh Howard has finally learned his lesson?
The mystery man himself, Josh Howard, definitely had a rough offseason, and the post-All Star break portion of last season went pretty dreadful too. Just last week I wrote how Josh Howard needs to just apologize, then shut up and play basketball. At Media Day last week Josh Howard finally stepped up and apologized. He called himself "an idiot" and admitted to "not taking his job seriously." Good start Josh, DallasDedicated forgives you. Now just please stick to your word. Oh, and cool it with the step-back jumper!
What will the starting lineup look like?
We already know the starting crew will consist of Jason Kidd, Josh Howard, and the Dirkster. What is up in the air is not just who will start at the shooting guard position, but also who will win the battle for starting big man. Early results are in and Damp still has the nod from coaches but training camp has just begun. Either way, having two legitimate centers will keep the competition at an all-time high. As for the starting 2-guard spot, things are looking cloudy. Jason Terry is the ideal sixth man for this Maverick team, but it looks as if he is the best available shooting guard on the team. Should Stack get placed into the starting lineup? Team personnel admit that the best possible way to utilize Jerry Stackhouse is to not give him more than 18 minutes of burn per game. Could a starter be held to 15-18 minutes? Maybe training camp will show the coaching staff that the young Gerald Green deserves to be placed in the lineup, though that seems unlikely. Even Antoine Wright, who got little PT last season, is being given the chance to prove himself worthy of the 2 spot. Could Devean George get the starting spot too? He has proven himself worthy of guarding the likes of Kobe and TMac...
There is also the option of going big and putting Josh Howard at shooting guard and moving Dirk to the small forward spot. This would place the explosive Brandon Bass into the starting role of power forward, causing a mismatch on the offensive end. This would also cause problems for the Mavs on defense however. The NBA is slowly growing smaller and faster, and would Howard and Nowitzki be able to guard a quicker player? I'm very intrigued to see how this all shapes up.
When will we see the Jason Kidd that we traded for?
Trading for a future hall-of-fame point guard who has 100 career triple doubles seemed like just the move to get over the hump towards the goal of a first NBA championship. We still have yet to see what we traded for, as the Mavs only went 16-14 once Kidd arrived. However, the problem could have fallen on Avery Johnson, who decided to stick to the regular game plan of isolations instead of utilizing Kidd's talents. New coach Rick Carlisle is sure to give the Mavs a new spark on offense, as well as giving Kidd the freedom to get out on the fast break and find his shooters. Jason Kidd has only this year remaining on his contract, so he should be playing with extra incentive as well.
Where will the important bench scoring come from?
A team that at one time seemed like the deepest in the league couldn't seem to get enough points from the supporting bench to get the win. Dallas was 2-8 in games decided by five points or less once Kidd came aboard, and just one more basket from a player off the bench from a Kidd pass could have turned the loss into a win. Not a lot of depth was added into the offseason, and if the Mavs' best shooter (Jason Terry) is actually a starter, finding points through the bench will be hard to come by. Brandon Bass, Jerry Stackhouse, Devean George and Gerald Green will provide most, if not all, of the scoring opportunities. Training camp invitee Charles Rhodes could provide a spark, but the roster is currently full. Besides J-Ho and Kidd playing better being the key to this season, the bench is the next important item Carlisle will have to focus attention on.
Why are people so quick to write off the Mavs as playoff contenders?
There seems to be a lot of columnists and analysts that have been eating some "Hater Tots." ESPN's John Hollinger has the Mavs only winning 47 games, and he has provided Jason Kidd's downfall as the reasoning. Some columnists around the area don't even have the Mavs in the playoff race. Just 3 short years ago this team was in the NBA Finals, and just 2 years ago they won 67 games. A new coach and new personnel should refuel this team. Brandon Bass is ever-improving, Josh Howard is ready to get back to all-star status, and Jason Kidd is going to have more control with the offense than ever before. This should make for a very interesting year, so just get ready. Buckle up, there is sure to be some turbulence on the journey.
Coming next week: My co-blogger Patrick will have all the postgame analysis from the Cowboys game tomorrow against "Ocho Loco" and the Bengals. Also, the Dallas Stars begin the regular season this Friday. DallasDedicated will be here to get you geared up for what should be a great Stars season.