The NBA offseason has been one of both surprise and boredom, one of young guns finding new places to earn their glory, and of old veterans looking for a jumpstart to their fading careers. With all this activity and change in the league, one team came out perhaps the most changed – for the better, that is.
The Dallas Mavericks missed out on LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony but, with Mark Cuban’s spotty offseason track record of bringing on top tier free agents, Dallas knew they had to have a backup plan. And, of course, Cuban’s backup plan consisted of what would be equal to another team with a bit less ambitious of an owner’s A plan.
That plan, of course, was acquire Chandler Parsons after resigning Dirk Nowitzki. And that is exactly what the Mavs did.
Not only did they do that, but they brought back an integral part of their 2011 title team, Tyson Chandler, as well as bringing in Raymond Felton as a quality rotational guard. But, they weren’t finished yet.
After signing Parsons to a deal that Houston just could not sanely match, Dallas got busy on other free agents. They brought back Devin Harris on a two year deal. They got Richard Jefferson as a bench scorer on a one year deal. They signed Al Farouq Aminu, someone who flew way under the radar this free agency, to the minimum salary for two years. They picked up a solid big man with lots of potential in Greg Smith. They got Jameer Nelson, a likely starter, for two years. And to cap it all off, they got another steal in Ivan Johnson, a beast who averaged over 20 points and 10 rebounds last year in China. So, with all these new acquisitions, what does the Dallas depth chart look like?
Well, it will probably be something like this.
PG: Nelson / Harris / Felton / Mekel
SG: Ellis / Jefferson / Ledo
SF: Parsons / Aminu / Crowder
PF: Nowitzki / Wright / Johnson
C: Chandler / Smith
That team is one of the deepest, most talented, and best defensive teams on paper I can find in today’s NBA. Their starting lineup has the scoring (Parsons, Ellis, Dirk), the facilitating (Nelson, Parsons), and the defense (Chandler, Parsons) that teams need to compete in the league right now. And if you say they have a weak defensive starting lineup, look at their bench.
Aminu and Wright are defensive specialists. Jefferson can guard the wing and Harris is buzzy little point guard who can irritate second string or first string guards. Greg Smith is a work in progress, but he’ll get there. Hell, even their third stringers like Jae Crowder and Ivan Johnson can come in and produce defensively.
So, you ask, this team doesn’t have a lot of flaws. We get it. But, best team in Texas? You do know the San Antonio Spurs won the NBA Finals last year, right?
Yes, yes, I understand that. But what did the Spurs do to get better? They resigned Boris Diaw and Tony Parker. Big whoop. They all got one year older and one year closer to the end of Tim Duncan’s reign in San Antonio. The Spurs will still be an elite team, likely a top three seed out West, but the Mavs have them beat.
The Mavericks are younger, faster, and deeper than the Spurs are this season. And hey, lets not forget that the Mavericks were the only team to challenge the Spurs in seven games in the NBA playoffs as the eight seed! That was with the flawed team they had last year. Imagine the noise they could make with this new team.
So now you say; Ok, maybe the Spurs are on the decline, but what about the Rockets?
What about them? They lost their shot at Chris Bosh after he spurned them for the Heat, and the Mavs stole Chandler Parsons away at a price they couldn’t afford. Their consolation prize was Trevor Ariza, a quality wing, but no Chandler Parsons. They also signed a few garbage time stars, like Jeff Adrien and Ish Smith. Not anything to write home about.
So, all in all, the Mavericks obviously won free agency out of the three Texas teams. But, does that mean they are now the best?
The reason the Mavs are the best team not only in Texas but perhaps the West is because this one guy by the name of Dirk Nowitzki. This timeless part of basketball history that comes in a 7′ foot long haired German package is one of the reasons people still love the NBA. And man, can this guy still play.
He is the ultimate unguardable and he still possesses a scoring touch unmatched by nearly anyone. Having someone like that, playing alongside newfound sidekick Chandler Parsons and always scorching Monta Ellis, is nearly impossible to stop on the defensive side of the ball. Dirk is finally surrounded by a better supporting cast than ever (yes, even better than their 2011 title team) and that is why everyone needs to watch out for this team from Texas. Even if Dallas isn’t the best team in Texas, they are for sure the scariest.
Nobody saw Dallas coming in 2011, and I am calling it here that they are coming again, stronger than ever.