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Mavericks need new faces to make up for big miss

Specter of DeAndre Jordan's free-agent 360 looms over season

POSTED: Oct 14, 2015 12:30 AM ET

By Fran Blinebury

BY Fran Blinebury

NBA.com

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No team in the NBA rode the roller coaster of offseason emotions like the Mavericks. One day they thought they'd landed their franchise center in DeAndre Jordan and then had the rug pulled out from under them. Dirk Nowitzki isn't getting younger and the time for another championship run is fading fast.

ICYMI

Since winning the NBA championship in 2011, the Mavericks have not won a playoff series in the past four seasons. ... Dallas ranked 23rd in the league in rebounding a year ago and the departure of Tyson Chandler with the failure to land Jordan will only make things tougher in that area. ... Big man JaVale McGee is only 27, but now working on his fourth team in eight NBA seasons. ... The Mavs' fifth-rated offense from last season will will have to adjust to playing with three new starters, including an entirely new backcourt.

THREE POINTS

1. Dirk Nowitzki's scoring average dropped to 17.3 per game, tying the lowest since his rookie season. That was fine as long as Monta Ellis was around the past two seasons to pull the wagon as leading scorer. But now that Ellis is gone, it could be a big ask for Dirk to go back to doing the heavy lifting at age 37.

2. It was supposed to be so simple plugging DeAndre Jordan into the middle of the lineup as the new franchise center for the foreseeable future. Now the Mavericks will likely play center by committee as they rotate Zaza Pachulia, Samuel Dalembert and the always-teasing-with-potential McGee into the paint.

3. For a team that won 50 games a year ago, squeaked into the playoffs and now have a tougher road in the West. They're asking a lot from 32-year-old Devin Harris, scrappy J.J. Barea and the reclamation project that is Jeremy Evans to provide much-needed punch off the bench.

MAN ON THE SPOT

Deron Williams has been a three-time All-Star and twice been voted as All-NBA second team. If that seems like a lifetime ago, it's because it practically was. His career has been in virtual free-fall over the past 4½ seasons with the Nets and now he's coming home to Dallas to try to restore his reputation as a leader and elite level point guard. If he doesn't deliver big, the Mavs have no chance at the playoffs

STARTING FIVE

Wesley Matthews | 15.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.3 apg
After tearing Achilles tendon in March, he insists he'll be ready for opening night.

Deron Williams | 13.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 6.6 apg
Ten years in, he's back at home to resurrect what was once going to be an All-Star career.

Zaza Pachulia | 8.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.4 apg
Serviceable big man comes in as second choice after DeAndre Jordan changes his mind.

Dirk Nowitzki | 17.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.9 apg
With Monta Ellis gone, the 37-year-old could go back to leading the offensive attack.

Chandler Parsons | 15.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.4 apg
Coming back from knee surgery, the 2014 free agent signing needs to deliver bigger bang for the bucks.

KEY RESERVES

Devin Harris | 8.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 3.1 apg
Speed and skills to play either backcourt position.

Samuel Dalembert | 4.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 0.9 apg
A warm body returns for second stint in Dallas.

Jeremy Evans | 2.4 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 0.3 apg
Former slam dunk champ gets change of venue.

THE BOTTOM LINE

It took 50 wins for the Mavs to slip into the No. 7 seed in the West a year ago. Without Tyson Chander, the defense sags and they'll be hard-pressed to match that make the playoffs in a crowded field.

Fran Blinebury has covered the NBA since 1977. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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