Give Mavs owner Mark Cuban credit. He’s been failing to hit a home run in the free-agent market for so long, but it never stops him from getting back in the batter’s box and taking another swing. After the latest first-round wipeout in 2016, Dallas reloads with Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut and should be right back in the mix.
When Kevin Durant’s jump from OKC to Golden State blew up part of the Warriors’ roster, the Mavs were only too happy to pick up the pieces ... After years as an afterthought in the Warrior offense, Barnes should blossom in Dallas and provide scoring punch on the front line to go with the venerable Dirk Nowitzki ... If Bogut can stay healthy, he provides rim protection on defense and a nifty ball mover and assist man in the middle of the offense ... Having played for four different NBA clubs in the past three seasons, Seth Curry will get a chance to add depth to the Dallas backcourt ... A veteran-heavy roster would love to have contributions this season from youngsters Dwight Powell at power forward and Justin Anderson at shooting guard.
- Nobody is happier to see Harrison Barnes ride his horse into Big D than the Big D himself, Dirk Nowitzki. At 38, Dirk still has tricks up his sleeve, but needs the young gun at small forward to come in and carry a good deal of the offensive load.
- It is imperative that center Andrew Bogut is fully recovered from the knee injury suffered in The Finals and stays healthy all season. He’s the anchor in the paint at both ends of the floor and the depth behind him is almost nonexistent.
- Point guard is getting a bit long in the tooth in Dallas with 32-year-old Deron Williams, 33-year-old Devin Harris and 32-year-old J.J. Barea battling to keep up with all of the young legs at the position.
MAN ON THE SPOT
With a new role on a new team, Warriors’ afterthought Harrison Barnes gets a new chance at becoming the star everybody thought he would be in the first place. He needs to live up to that $94-million contract by being a big factor at both ends of the floor.
Deron Williams | 14.1 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 5.8 apg
No longer elite, but Year Two back in his hometown should be comfortable and effective.
Wesley Matthews | 12.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.9 apg
A year now since the Achilles’ surgery and he should be ready to take off.
Andrew Bogut | 5.4ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.3 apg
A vital cog as rim protector on defense and facilitator on offense.
Harrison Barnes | 11.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.8 apg
Finally gets his turn in the spotlight, and has to show he won’t wilt in heat.
Dirk Nowitzki | 18.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.8 apg
One of the years he won’t be able to deliver. That time not here yet.
Devin Harris | 7.6 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 1.8 apg
He’s lost a step, but has valuable experience and smarts.
Justin Anderson | 3.8ppg, 2.4 rpg, 0.5 apg
Rookie season showed flashes of all the Mavs hope he can become.
Salah Mejri | 3.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 0.3 apg
Remember the night he barked at Gregg Popovich? Tall and salty.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Since winning the only championship in franchise history back in 2011, the Mavericks haven’t made it out of the first round of the playoffs. Once again coach Rick Carlisle will have them scrapping to make the bottom half of the West bracket and then a long-shot to advance.
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