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The Dallas Mavericks lost in the first round of the playoffs last year in 4 games to the Oklahoma City Thunder. This offseason, the Mavs shifted a lot of parts and ended up with a much younger team. However, will this offseason be enough to return them back to competing for an NBA title?
The grade may seem a little high considering they lost Jason Kidd, signed Chris Kaman, and became an overall worse team (I have them winning 38 games this season), but the Mavericks’ offseason consisted of either home-runs or complete whiffs.
Losing Jason Kidd will hurt for sure, but all indications are that the Mavericks tried to re-sign him and just lost out to New York. The Mavs did get Darren Collison, who is serviceable, and also get much younger now that the Kidd era is over. Acquiring Elton Brand is huge; Philadelphia mistakenly let him go by virtue of its amnesty and the Mavericks pounced to add a cheap and above average player.
However, the Mavericks huge homerun this offseason was their draft. Drafting Jae Crowder was an incredibly savvy move; the Mavericks used the 34th pick in the draft to pick up the second best player, as well as the 2012 draft’s version of Kenneth Faried. If Crowder can get minutes (which was an issue for Faried), the Mavericks will reap the benefits and possibly get 10 wins from a rookie.
Side note on that: how do guys like Faried and Crowder drop so low in the draft? The main knock on Crowder is that he’s short and that he’s not a potent scorer. Similarly, that was the knock on Faried. However, Crowder can rebound, pass, steal, and doesn’t turn the ball over. He may not score 20 points, but a team with Dirk Nowitzki doesn’t need people to score 20 points. Crowder can play effectively and the Mavericks made a big time decision in taking him.
Now we get to the bad. As much as Mark Cuban disagrees, the signing of Chris Kaman was poor. Let’s say we disregard Wins Produced in our evaluation of Kaman. What can possibly justify Kaman as a good player? He can score, but on incredibly below average shooting and on more than his healthy share of shots. He is an average rebounder, but turns the ball over like a point guard. It’s definitely saddening to see that this team had Tyson Chandler as its’ starting center in 2010-11 and now has Chris Kaman in that position just two seasons later.
The Mavs amnestied Brendan Haywood to clear cap and potentially sign Deron Williams, which was also a poor choice. Haywood is old and slightly overpaid, but he is still an above average center, which is suddenly something that the Mavericks lack. I would agree with the amnesty if it allowed the Mavericks to acquire a superstar, but Deron Williams? I’m a huge Nets fan, but I wouldn’t let go of Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood for the Deron Williams that we saw last season. The Mavericks didn’t end up getting him, but the logic in amnestying Haywood was not very sound.
Dallas probably won’t make the playoffs this season; for the first time in more than a decade. That’s definitely going to hurt Mavs fans; but the true bottom line is that they got younger and also got cheaper. When Dirk either leaves or retires, the Mavericks will have a decent core with Crowder leading the way and a younger squad that can get back to the playoffs with some smart decision making and draft picks.