COACH: Avery Johnson | 2006-07: 67-15
Dallas Mavericks

Dirk's MVP award was small consolation for Dallas fans.
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images
The Dallas Mavericks will seek to redeem themselves for their shocking first round loss to the Golden State Warriors in last season's NBA Playoffs. After finishing the regular season with an astonishing 67-15 record (tying for 6th best in NBA history), and earning the top seed in the Western Conference, the Mavs became only the third No. 1 seed in history to fall to the No. 8 seed.

Despite their disappointment, Dallas fans have ample reasons to be excited about their team. For the seventh straight season, the Mavs reached the 50-win plateau, and league MVP Dirk Nowitzki continues to improve each year, adding a career high 8.9 rebounds per game to his silky smooth shooting touch. This year he'll have a chip on his shoulder and will try to make amends for a disappointing playoff performance.

It was an unusually quiet offseason for the Mavs as Owner Mark Cuban kept most of the team together, with the only significant losses being Austin Croshere and Anthony Johnson. The Mavs picked up Eddie Jones, a wily veteran who should provide perimeter depth and defense, as well as Brandon Bass, a thick power forward who will give the Mavs a different look down low when he backs up Nowitzki.

Look for the Mavericks to challenge San Antonio for the top spot in the West.


Backcourt
The Mavs showed confidence in Devin Harris' potential, signing him to a five-year contract extension in September. Although he has yet to prove to coach Avery Johnson that he can be a consistent starter, Harris remains one of the quickest players in the league and finished with career highs in scoring (10.2), steals (1.2), and shooting percentage (.492) last season. Jason Terry, one the most clutch shooters in the league, gives the Mavericks a solid threat from the outside and veteran floor leadership. With neither player being a traditional pass-first point guard, the Mavs will need to improve their assists per game, as they were one of only seven teams to average fewer than 20 APG.

Maurice Ager, a promising young player, and veteran Eddie Jones round out the Mavs backcourt.


Frontcourt
League MVP Dirk Nowitzki posted gaudy regular season stats of 24.6 PPG, 8.9 RPG, and 3.4 APG. But the playoffs were a different matter altogether, and with his former Coach Don Nelson pressing all the right buttons defensively, Nowitzki stumbled with 19.7 PPG and 38% shooting. "It's a disappointment. You can't even describe it," Nowitzki said. "You play your heart out for six, seven months, you win 67 games, and it really means nothing at this point. This is tough to swallow." That sentiment should prove to be extra motivation for the reigning MVP this season, and the Mavs have a good chance of getting back to top of the West.

Josh Howard has consistently improved each season in the league and finished with a career-best 18.9 PPG during the regular season. He was lone bright spot for the Mavs during the playoffs, tallying 21.3 PPG and 9.8 RPG.

Erick Dampier provides solid rebounding and inside toughness, and DeSagana Diop gives the Mavs some athleticism on defense and shot-blocking at the rim.

Newcomer Brandon Bass will give the Mavericks a different look inside as the backup to Nowitzki.
-- Jeff Brody
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Nowitzki
Dallas' early exit in the playoffs only brought more questions about Nowitzki's leadership, but Owner Mark Cuban stood by his star. "Not at all," Cuban said when asked if he had questions about Nowitzki as a leader. "Not a little bit. Anyone who suggests otherwise is a moron."

Still, Coach Avery Johnson believes the reigning MVP can improve. “Dirk can get better on and off the court,” Johnson recently told the Dallas Morning News. “And that's why I've been stretching him. He's the reigning MVP, and if he's not willing to be stretched by his coach, then he never would have improved. So he's willing to be stretched. And his stretching may not be necessarily on the court, but it may be in the area of leadership, and we're willing to help him get better in that area.”
-- Jeff Brody
THE STAT
65 In another dubious record, the Mavs became the first team in NBA history to win 65 games and fail to win at least one playoff series.

Johnson
AVERY JOHNSON
Fourth Season
Career Record: 143-39 (.786)
Playoff Record: Three times, 22-20 (.524)

Avery Johnson's first task will be to get his team to forget the disappointing playoff loss of a year ago. Bringing back the league's MVP and other core players should provide stability to build on last year's record-setting regular season.

"We talked about finishing, and that was our motto," said Johnson. "We didn't finish. Now, do we not start again? No. We start and we start strong and we try to stay strong. That's the trick."
-- Jeff Brody

KNOW YOUR MAVS
Jason Terry is one of ten children in his family.
They're still going to win their games but I think the cat's kind of out of the bag about how to play them.
It's going to be a make-or-break year. If they can make a big jump again in the playoffs then all's well, but if not, they might start breaking that team up.
Howard is a young player who keeps getting better. He keeps improving his skills. He is so active, you got to match his energy. He scores with his energy. He's so long and he's a tough cover because he's always moving. In that offense, they spread you out and move him around a lot. He's a tough match-up.
Eddie Jones' veteran presence and his shooting should help, but also he knows how to guard certain guys in the league which is huge during the playoffs.
They could be the team that wins the most games again.
-- Eastern Conference Scout
PG - Devin Harris: Will his potential finally be realized?
SG - Jason Terry: Underrated, but Terry's best years are behind him.
SF - Josh Howard: Takes the next steps towards fantasy stardom.
PF - Dirk Nowitzki: Value tapped without C eligibility.
C - Erick Dampier: Only for back-up fantasy center consideration.
Mavericks Fantasy Preview | Fantasy Home
Record: 55-27, 2nd in Western Conf.
Playoffs: Lost in 1st Round to Utah, 4-3
Scoring Leader: D. Nowitzki, 29.9 PPG
Rebounding Leader: D. Nowitzki, 10.6 RPG
Assist Leader: D. Harris, 5.5 APG

Simulated Season Details
PLAYER/2006-07 STATS PPG RPG APG
PG Devin Harris 10.2 2.5 3.7
SG Jason Terry 16.7 2.9 5.2
SF Josh Howard 18.9 6.8 1.8
PF Dirk Nowitzki 24.6 8.9 3.4
C Erick Dampier 7.1 7.4 0.6

PG Jose Barea 2.4 0.8 0.7
SG Eddie Jones 7.7 3.0 1.7
SF Jerry Stackhouse 12.0 2.2 2.8
PF Brandon Bass 2.0 2.0 0.2
C DeSagana Diop 2.3 5.4 0.4
C DeSagana Diop Senegal
G Jose Barea Puerto Rico
F Dirk Nowitzki Germany
G-F Eddie Jones Free Agent
F Brandon Bass Free Agent
F Nick Fazekas Draft
F Austin Croshere Free agent
G Anthony Johnson Trade
F Pops Mensah-Bonsu Waivers
PPG Dirk Nowitzki 24.6
RPG Dirk Nowitzki 8.9
APG Jason Terry 5.2
SPG Devin Harris 1.2
BPG DeSagana Diop 1.4
Points Scored 100.0 (9th)
Points Allowed 92.8 (4th)
Field-Goal Percentage .467 (5th)
Opponents' FG% .447 (7th)
Rebounding Diff. +3.8 (3rd)
NBA Seasons: 27
Playoff Appearances:12
NBA Finals Appearances: 1
Championships: 0
Best Season: 2006-07, 67-15
Season Opener:
Oct. 31 @ Cleveland (8:00 p.m. ET)
Home Opener:
Nov. 3 vs. Sacramento (8:30 p.m. ET)
Longest Road Trip(s):
4 games in 8 days: January 28 – February 4
@ MEM, @ BOS, @ DET, @ ORL
4 games in 11 days: February 14-24
@ PHX, @ NOH, @ MEM, @ MIN
Longest Home Stand(s):
5 games in 9 days: March 6-14
HOU, NJN, NYK, CHA, IND
Buy tickets | Full Mavs schedule
TV: FSNSW, TXA-21
Radio: 103.3 FM, 1270 AM
Web: Official site
Local Coverage: Dallas Morning News | Fort Worth Star-Telegram