What a crazy off-season our Dallas Mavericks have had. A summer full of ups and downs has finally gotten us a clearer picture of what we can expect when the season tips off, but that is only the beginning. So many questions linger for the upcoming 2015-2016 season, and our Mavs Fanatic staff thought we would take some time to discuss five of those questions in particular.
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Who will be the starting center by the end of the season? The primary backup?
Ryan Wilson: I could sit here and lie to you that I’m excited about the depth at center, but the issue at hand is we don’t have a legit one to speak of. Zaza Pachulia is a tough physical player who can step back and hit the mid-range jumper, but is he going to be able to bang with the big boys in the Western Conference? I’ve already seen what Samuel Dalembert can offer, and I don’t think it’s going to be much improved a couple years since his last stint with our Mavericks. JaVale McGee has the most upside, but I’m just unsure if he can keep it together, both physically and mentally. If I had to give an answer, I would say that Dalembert ends up starting by the end of the season, and Zaza will provide almost as many minutes off the bench.
Asher Feltman: I think Zaza Pachulia is going to hold this job all season, and JaVale McGee will emerge as a backup. However, it could be interchangeable with Sam Dalembert at power forward, because I don’t trust Dwight Powell just yet or Charlie Villanueva as a primary backup big ever.
Zack Cunningham: It really is a toss-up, but I hate dancing around a question and only “answering” with speculation. I’m going to say Pachulia maintains the starting job all season buy McGee ends up being the primary backup. I’m rolling the dice on him rising to the occasion and emerging as another reclamation project success story for the Mavs to add to their file. I envision McGee being a bigger, badder version of Brandan Wright.
Reece Waddell: Right now, the Mavericks front court is about as good as a toss-up. Every guy has some sort of issue, be it consistency, scoring or rebounding. That said, I like Zaza Pachulia to be the Mavs starting big man at the end of the season. He actually finished second in the league last season in offensive efficiency and is a decent pick and roll guy who can get physical for loose balls and rebounds. That leaves Samuel Dalembert and JaVale McGee to fight for the Mavericks backup spot. Assuming McGee stays healthy and keeps his head on straight, I’ll take him over Dalembert to get the reserve center position, strictly because he is younger and has a very high potential.
Michael Page: Javale McGee. The reason I’m so high on this pickup is due to the fact that he can catch a lob and throw it down. Neither Zaza nor Dalembert are known for their high flying abilities. While McGee has had his injury issues, I feel the need for someone to be able to roll hard to the rim with Deron Williams running the pick-n-roll is adamant.
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Who will lead the Mavs in scoring this year?
Ryan Wilson: This one is easy. Chandler Parsons. The guy was really starting to come into his own last season, and that was even with Monta Ellis and Rajon Rondo controlling the ball a majority of the time. If he can get healthy and stay that way, I expect him to really take the reigns this season, with Wesley Matthews as his sidekick.
Asher Feltman: This is a tough one. We have several guys capable of scoring in the high teens (Dirk, CP, Deron) but my favorite pick here would be Wesley Matthews and the reports on his return date are inconsistent at best. So I’ll hop off a tree branch here and say Deron Williams regains form as a 20 PPG player.
Zack Cunningham: Another tricky question considering varying starters might miss considerable amounts of time but, like I said, I HATE NON-ANSWERS. The answer is Chandler Parsons and I really don’t think it’ll be close. As the primary offensive conduit on what could (and should) be another scoring juggernaut, Parsons should not only fill up on points, buy hopefully on assists.
Reece Waddell: This question is tough and has a lot of variables. Mostly, will depend on when Wesley Matthews and Chandler Parsons come back from injury. If both of those guys have elongated recovery times, I think you could potentially see Deron Williams lead the team in scoring. However, if Matthews and Parsons get back by November or even December, I’ll take Matthews, only because he is the better shooter.
Michael Page: Dirk Nowitzki. Once again, he will lead the Mavs in scoring. While I’m not encouraged by his post-December decline last year, I still don’t see Chandler Parsons truly being able to fulfill a number one role. That’s not why we brought him here. Though Dirk is up in age, I feel like he is still our go to scoring option.
Will any Mavs make the All-Star team?
Ryan Wilson: In the loaded Western Conference? No. As much as I would love to see another Dirk Hoops Gem like last years All-Star Game moment, I don’t see Nowitzki making a return to the weekend event. The health of Parsons and Matthews are questionable at this point, and even though I see Parsons making a huge leap (if healthy) this season, it won’t be enough to crack the Western Conference All-Star roster. Aside from the All-Star team, I do see some serious potential for Wesley Matthews to make it as a 3-Point Shootout participant.
Asher Feltman: Dirk has made it two more times recently as what felt like a “courtesy selection.” I don’t think Deron Williams, even if he has a big resurgence, can compete with the numerous Western Conference point guards in his way, and Wes Matthews may not be healthy long enough for consideration. That leaves Chandler Parsons, who I don’t believe is an All-Star player, more of a sexy intangibles guy. So no, I think the Mavs will be skipping Toronto in February of next year, at least as it pertains to Sunday’s main event.
Zack Cunningham: I think Parsons will make the All-Star team, although I don’t think he will start. Wes Matthews would be my dark horse if he returns earlier than expected from his injury, although he might have a better chance at competing in the 3-point contest.
Reece Waddell: No. The Western Conference is stacked, and even if guys like Deron Williams, Wesley Matthews, Chandler Parsons or Dirk have career years, I just don’t see it. The fans want young, exciting talent and I have a feeling Dallas wont exactly be throwing alley-oops and running the court all year. The Mavs will play a half court style of basketball because, well, they’re old. The only Maverick I could potentially see making it is Dirk, but even that is a long shot.
Michael Page: The Mavs have no superstars. No one will average more than 17ppg and be worthy of an All Star bid. Its unfortunate, but true.
When will Wesley Matthews and Chandler Parsons return at full strength?
Ryan Wilson: I can see Chandler Parsons returning sometime around Thanksgiving or maybe a week or so after, but I don’t think Matthews makes his much anticipated debut until closer to Christmas. Look, the Mavericks are going to try their best to compete this season, but they aren’t fools either. They know that Chandler Parsons can opt out after this season, but with Matthews, they made a 4-year, $70 million investment. No reason to rush something like an Achilles injury.
Asher Feltman: For Parsons, I think a couple weeks into the season. Anything more would concern me. For Wes Matthews and his 3-point arrows, I think he returns to full strength around New Years. When he returns at all, I’m hopeful for late November-Early December, but let’s not mess around with that investment/Achilles.
Zack Cunningham: This is the question of the season for Mavericks’ fans and, judging from what I’ve gathered both about Matthews’ grit and hell-bent determination and from what I’ve seen of Parsons’ progression, I’d put them back on the court no later than Christmas. I personally think Parsons will return first with Matthews maybe a few weeks later. It might be the kind of thing where he’s chomping at the bit and we might see some sharply-worded quotes from him leading up to his return.
Reece Waddell: Let me check my crystal ball. Ah ha! You’re guess is as good as mine. Both players insist they will be healthy and ready to go by the time the season starts, but owner Mark Cuban and head coach Rick Carlisle both want to air on the side of caution, especially since both are young and could be cornerstone pieces of the franchise after Dirk retires. I think they both will return at the same time, probably late November, early December.
Michael Page: The Mavericks season hinges on the recovery timetables of Wes Matthews and Chandler Parsons. If they’re full strength from day one, I think they snag the 8th and final spot. They will lose too much ground without enough quality players to fill the shoes of Wes and CP while they continue to recover from surgery.
What kind of an impact will Justin Anderson have?
Ryan Wilson: If we are to assume that Coach Rick Carlisle won’t continue to show that distaste for rookies, I think Anderson can be extremely valuable, especially early on in the season with the health of Chandler Parsons and Wes Matthews in question. He provides quality play on both ends of the floor, and can provide spacing on the floor with his ability to hit the long range three. I think he will definitely entertain MFFL’s this season, but really could be crucial in the early stages of the campaign.
Asher Feltman: Like Jae Crowder in 2012, Anderson will be thrust into an immediate role given the state of the team as well as the injuries to multiple starters. Temper expectations for rookies, but Anderson’ summer leaves a lot of room for optimism. Also, he ‘s far more talented than Crowder was coming out of school.
Zack Cunningham: Justin Anderson will get plenty of chances to prove his mettle early in the season with Matthews likely out for a little while. I think he’ll take his lumps early on, but I can see him being a solid 3-and-D wing guy who will maybe average 8-11 points in 15 or so minutes off the bench. If he starts, I’ll guess maybe a few points more. It won’t be smooth sailing from the start, but the kid can play.
Reece Waddell: He’s definitely the wild card, isn’t he? Everyone in the Mavs front office is really high on him and he had a pretty good summer. Right now, it looks as though he could have an expanded role to start the season with Chandler Parsons recovering from injury and Richard Jefferson opting to not re-sign in Dallas after the DeAndre Jordan debacle. I think Anderson has the potential to crack the rotation by seasons end and will surprise a lot of people when the season starts.
Michael Page: Justin Anderson has an NBA ready body and will play hard. Every team needs an unproven guy who will play his butt off to prove himself. Luckily, he comes from a Virginia system that eats sleeps-lives-breathes-dies defense, so he’ll know how to defend. (Something the Mavs sorely need on the perimeter). He can knock down the 3-point jumper, which will certainly earn him playing time. I don’t think 8ppg/5rpg/2apg is too far-fetched for the rook.