I said after the Dallas Mavericks won the NBA championship last summer that they didn’t have a team that was built to repeat. After they lost Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea, two players that were huge in their championship run, and Caron Butler, it looked like a repeat title was impossible.
So they went out and got Lamar Odom and Vince Carter, two veteran players with a lot of experience. Odom was playing some pretty solid basketball alongside Kobe Bryan in L.A. so he was probably pretty attractive to the Mavs who probably want guys who know a thing or two about getting back to the NBA finals. Carter is looking for his last shot to win a ring, so his desire may help him put up his best numbers in years.
After all the addition and subtraction, can this new-look Mavericks team make it back to the finals? No way.
While age and experience may be at a big advantage in a lockout-shortened season, the Mavericks have given up way too much from their talented title-winning team. J.J. Barea may not look like much, but he was such an incredible spark off the bench for that team. He provided so much energy, he was a fan favorite and he drove opposing defenses insane. Tyson Chandler was their big presence inside. If they’re not going to go out and get a real center, or a very aggressive power forward, they’re going to end up with Brendan Haywood starting down low, which will be a huge drop off. They can probably live without Caron Butler, but it’s another loss that takes away from the talent of the team.
Now let’s look at the guys they brought in. Odom benefited a lot from defenses focusing on everyone else on the floor but him. Most teams that played the Lakers were more worried about Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, and Odom made the most of that. I don’t think he’ll have the same luxury in Dallas. He’ll need to create more of his own opportunities and I don’t think he’s that kind of player. I was surprised by how well he played last year, so maybe he can do it again, but I doubt it. Carter is way past his prime. If Mavs fans think they’re getting the high-flying dunk contest winner, they’re in for a rude awakening. He may be able to put in some points off the bench, but I think he may end up being more of a liability than an asset.
The Mavericks have now made themselves one of the oldest teams in the league. Even in a shortened season, I think that’s going to come back and bite them. This team was not built to play so many games back to back and then go through a grueling playoff run. I don’t think we’ll see the Mavericks back in the Western Conference Finals, let alone competing for their second straight ring.
Not to mention the San Antonio Spurs might have something to say about any Dallas run at a second title.