Jerome Miron – USA Today Sports
We are only 26 days away from the Dallas Mavericks starting their 2015-2016 campaign, and questions surround a team that is plagued with injuries (Chandler Parsons, Wesley Matthews, JaVale McGee) and players who are out to prove themselves. While all that is going on, it’s becoming painfully clear how close we are to Dirk Nowitzki hanging up the sneakers, which is something no MFFL is prepared for. We thought we would put something together and do a 5-on-5 with some of our Mavs Fanatics!
What are realistic expectations for the Mavericks this season?
Ryan Wilson: If we are operating on the assumption that Parsons is ready for the opener, and if we say Matthews comes back early December, I think the Mavericks can push for the final playoff spot. While I can see new teams joining the playoff picture, I think the Mavericks should be battling for that last spot during the final week of the season, and we can only hope we are healthy and clicking when that time comes. Even if the Mavericks do grab one of those final spots, I can’t see this roster doing any type of damage to the likes of the Warriors, Spurs or Clippers.
Michael Lark: The Mavs are battling to the 8th and final playoff spot. We all know the Western Conference was jam backed last season and it’s not like any of them (aside from the Trailblazers) got any worse during the off-season. Realistically, the Mavericks best case scenario has them making the playoffs. After that, they are almost a surefire first round knockout.
Michael Page: On the bright side, I believe they will exceed Vegas’ expectations and win more than 38 games. How many more? It boils down to health. There are so many question marks involving key players such as Chandler Parsons, Wes Matthews, and JaVale McGee (who I think will play a much bigger role in the team’s success than many). And their health goes beyond the ability to return to the court. How high of a level will they be able to play at in 2015? With so many health questions swirling this team, it is hard to pinpoint expectations. Realistically, they should be a 45-47 win team with a chance of earning the final playoff spot. We have to keep in mind that Rick Carlisle led a team with Sam Dalembert and an aged Shawn Marion as starters to the post-season, nearly upsetting the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs. So anything is possible.
Rami Michail: This is tough and sad to answer. I want to say playoffs, but with the lingering questions marks surrounding the Mavericks health, I just don’t even think that’s possible.If this team is fairly healthy for 82 games, then I can see them hovering over the .500 mark and trying to sneak into the playoffs. But with Wes expected to miss a month plus and nothing certain with Parsons…maybe just getting at least 41 wins is this team’s goal.
Marc Cashion: Looking at our roster as unbiased as possible its hard to be incredibly optimistic for this years Mavs. Looking at who will clearly be ahead of us this season you put the Spurs, Grizzlies, Warriors, Rockets (yuck), Clippers (even worse yuck) and the Thunder. That’s six playoffs spots locked away with only two remaining. Fighting for those two spots will be the Mavericks, Suns, and the emerging Pelicans. I am also giving the Jazz an outside shot. My expectation is a seventh seed in the West, at the very best.
What numbers can we expect from Dirk Nowitzki?
Jerome Miron – USA Today Sports
Ryan Wilson: On paper, you would think this roster gives Dirk Nowitzki the chance to hang back and be part of the supporting cast. While this Mavericks team seems to have been handed off to Chandler Parsons, Nowitzki will have to take on his usual role with the injuries hanging over Parsons and Matthews. He’s obviously not as big of a threat on the glass as he used to be, so while he can still put some points up on the scoreboard, his rebounding numbers won’t be much of a factor. I can see Dirk averaging around 17-18 points per game to go along with 6 rebounds per contest.
Michael Lark: When the Mavs decided to let Monta Ellis walk in free agency this offseason, it was aslo their best player walking out. At 37 years-old and 17 long, grueling NBA seasons on his body, the Big German is once again left with an unstable, support cast of player. With Matthews and possibility Parsons out to start the season, Dirk will once again be asked to shoulder the load. He’s still capable of putting up 18 points a night, but as the seasons goes on, that number will dwindle when grind of a long season starts to take a toll on his body. At this point in his career, Dirk will probably see his points dip down below 16 per game and he’ll be lucky to average in the neighborhood of 5 rebounds.
Michael Page: Two more years is all we have left of the Big German. Even in one of his worst statistical seasons last year, he outperformed Kevin Love. Dirk has set such high expectations for us over his 17 year career, that even though his numbers will likely decline, he will still perform at a high level. One thing is certain: his minutes will go down fairly significantly. So while his points per game may decrease, I still expect Dirk to be efficient. What scares me, however, is after the new year last season, his numbers dropped significantly. Through the first 2 months of the season, Dirk looked as spry as ever, shooting the ball over 50%. He finished the season shooting below 46%, which is a rarity for him. If his decline occurs more drastically, it could spell disaster for the Mavs. A stat line I wouldn’t be surprised to see: 16ppg/5rpg while shooting somewhere between 44-46%. Those numbers would still be nothing other than incredible for a shooter whose 37 going on 38 years old entering his 18th
Rami Michail: I’m not sure we see a better Dirk than we’ve seen the last two years, but I’m hoping for a more consistent one than last seasons’. I think he’ll average around that 17-19 point mark again. With Wes and Parsons potentially missing time, I expect him to get plenty of shots early on in the season to boost his point total. He’ll probably shoot around 45% from the field, 38% from three, and get 5 to 6 boards a night.
Marc Cashion: Dirk’s numbers last year were 17 points adding 6 rebounds. He has openly stated he would like for teammates to step up and limit his minutes this year. Dwight Powell looks much improved and Jeremy Evans looks to get some minutes at the power forward position. While this sounds great I do not think it will be enough to limit Dirk’s production. I believe Dirk will hover right around those same numbers as last year with 16 points and 6 rebounds.
What team from the west who wasn’t a part of playoffs last season can make a threat this season?
Ryan Wilson: The Phoenix Suns. While the Thunder are probably automatic, the Suns could be a real threat to the Mavericks chances of making the playoffs. They added our beloved Tyson Chandler in the off-season, who will be teamed up with Brandon Knight, Eric Bledsoe, and Markieff Morris. The Suns play with speed and use their athleticism, and I feel like Chandler will fit in nicely with his new squad. The Mavericks will get their first look at the Suns this season as they square off with Phoenix in the season opener. Look out for this team from the valley!
Michael Lark: The Phoenix Suns. They nearly missed the playoffs last season with a strong, young core in Eric Bledsoe, Alex Len and Brandon Knight. This off-season, they drafted Kentucky guard Devin Booker and, of course, added Tyson Chandler and we all know what he brings to the table. Expect the Mavs face heavy competition for the final spot in the Western Conference from the Suns.
Michael Page: The Phoenix Suns. As sickening as it is after the DeAndre debacle, they are the team who ended up with the greatest center in Mavericks franchise history. Tyson Chandler will not only sure up their rebounding and defense, but he will bring unity and leadership to their locker room. He will be a great mentor to Alex Len, whose game is comparable to that of Tyson. They’ve come close to making the playoffs the last 2 seasons. Jeff Hornacek has continued to do a great job with that team. And with young players like Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight, they will only continue to progress. Not guaranteeing they will make the playoffs, but they should be fighting with the Mavs and Jazz (yes, the Jazz!) for the 8th and final playoff spot.
Rami Michail: The top two candidates have to be the Suns and Jazz. I’ll give the Suns the edge due to the addition of Tyson Chandler. Like he was with the Mavs in 2011, he may be that final piece for the Suns to return to the playoffs. Also with Brandon Knight getting acclimated and Eric Bledsoe still improving, the Suns should nab either the Mavs or Blazers spot from last season.
Marc Cashion: The Thunder is the easy pick here as they will almost for sure make the playoffs. To give a little more insight look out for the Suns and the Jazz as I said in question 1. The Suns still have Brandan Knight and Eric Bledsoe and added, gulp, Tyson Chandler. The Jazz are my surprise team of the year. Rudy Gobert is an absolute nightmare, they have good and deep guard play and Gordon Hayward is going to be a beast.
When do you think CP and Wes return? What can we expect from the two of them?
Jerome Miron – USA Today Sports
Ryan Wilson: If you went off of their comments on media day, they both will be ready for the season opener in Phoenix. While that would be great, we know that is not realistic. It seems like Parsons could be a go for the opener. Wesley Matthews, on the other hand, is a whole different story. He claims that he will be ready, but then Carlisle said it would be somewhere around Christmas. Either way, I think you will see Parsons take on a much larger role with the departure of Monta Ellis, so he will really have to get acclimated quickly. Matthews, when healthy, is a serious threat from long range, and is one of the true two way players in basketball. All of Mavs Nation will collectively hold their breath anytime he jumps or falls.
Michael Lark: It appears as though Parsons should be ready to go by the start of the regular season, if not somewhere close to it. Matthews, on the other hand, is a different story. He’s coming off of a major injury and the Mavs will want to tread lightly after investing $70 million in him this off-season. A December return sounds like a logical estimate based on the history of the Achilles injuries.
Michael Page: I have a lot of confidence in Chandler Parsons returning for the start of the season. It appears the Mavs caught a break with his injury, as he didn’t have a full blown micro fracture procedure, cutting his recovery time in half. I think we can expect Wes Matthews to return certainly before the new year. His injury was more severe than Parsons, so this should be expected. The level at which they can perform is the true question mark. Luckily for both guys, neither rely on explosiveness to maximize their skill sets. Parsons should be able to return to top form sometime near the new year. The Mavs are going to take it a lot easier on Wes, however, and are taking a much more long term approach (something you’d hope they’d do after signing him to a 4 year max). I don’t know if we will see the best of Wes Matthews at all this season. Unfortunately, the majority of our teams success relies on those two getting back to full strength. And I don’t think I’m very smart for doubting someone with the determination of Wes Matthews.
Rami Michail: Wes says he is targeting opening night. Rick Carlisle says Christmas. So I’m going to say late November or early December. As for Parsons…I think he’ll be good to go to open the season, or at least close to it. If Parsons is good to go early on, I think he can lead this team in scoring. no reason to not think he can average close to 20 points with the lack of scoring around him at the moment. Wes, once healthy, will give the Mavs something they haven’t had since Finley. A big shooting guard who can defend and get 15+ points a night. He should excel playing off of Parsons, Deron Williams, and Dirk too.
Marc Cashion: I personally do not think either will be ready opening day. Parsons will begin full workouts before the season begins but will not suit up for a game until the second week of the season in my opinion. Wes Matthews will be ready around Thanksgiving it looks like while Carlisle shut down rumors of him not returning until Christmas. What to expect from each is really a tough question. I think by the end of the season Wes Matthews will be the same as he was last year while Chandler Parsons will play well because he has to with his contract coming up.
Who needs to step up this season for the Mavericks to make the playoffs?
Jerome Miron – USA Today Sports
Ryan Wilson: The Big Boys. Losing Tyson Chandler will hurt. While it looked as if looking elsewhere paid off when the Mavericks temporarily landed DeAndre Jordan, that plan ultimately backfired when Jordan changed his mind and Tyson booked it to Phoenix. Now they are left with a “center by committee” approach. Samuel Dalembert, Zaza Pachulia, and JaVale McGee will have to step it up and be a presence in the paint against the West bigs, or they will be fishing far before other teams are.
Michael Lark: It’s officially Chandler Parsons’ team. The transition has been made and the passing of the torch from Dirk has been finalized and he’s now the go to guy in the Mavs offense. The unfortunate news is that CP is coming of a serious knee injury. It’s going to take him some time to get adjusted into his enhanced role in the offense, not to mention getting into basketball shape and with Matthews out, the Mavericks will struggle to stay afloat until they can get all of their starters back and healthy. If Parsons, can get healthy and playing well quick, the Mavs have a legitimate shot to make the playoffs.
Michael Page: Chandler Parsons. Even coming off an injury, he has to be the player who takes on a larger role and excel in that role for the Mavs to have a shot at making the playoffs. After all, that is a major reason in why the Mavs brought him hear. He was a young small forward who had improved in all areas of his game during his first 3 seasons with Houston. The time has come for him to make that next jump with the Mavs. I look forward to seeing him play point-forward this season, and seeing how he does in an expanded scoring/creating role.
Rami Michail: The Mavs will need a full team effort for them to make the playoffs…oh and plenty of good fortune. They’ll need Zaza, Dalembert, and JaVale to give them at least 35-40 minutes of great play at center. Dirk will need to have another All-Star caliber season. Williams will need to show he isn’t washed up. Parsons and Wes need to be healthy. Justin Anderson needs to have a All-Rookie type of season. And Harris and JJB (ugh….) need to lead the second unit.
Marc Cashion: This question has so many different answers if we want the Mavs to even kind of be a contender. Deron Williams will need to play like the old Deron, Parsons and Wes have got to get and stay healthy. Either Zaza or Javale Mcgee have to prove they are starting Center in this league, and Justin Anderson will have to show he is a legitimate player in the NBA with so many injuries at our wing positions. It’s going to be a season full of crossed fingers but either way Go Mavs!
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