The Dallas Mavericks have made quite the splash this summer. After nearly knocking off the San Antonio Spurs in the opening round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs, the Mavericks re-tooled their roster by adding Chandler Parsons, Raymond Felton, Richard Jefferson, Rashard Lewis, and bringing back center Tyson Chandler.
Now the question is, are the Mavericks good enough to compete for an NBA Championship?
Losing Vince Carter, Samuel Dalembert, and DeJuan Blair will all be tough losses, but the biggest loss of all will be the trade of Jose Calderon. Calderon, fifth in the league in three-point percentage last season, really clicked in the Mavericks offense. The big key here is point guard is the weakest position on the Mavericks roster. It was no mystery that Raymond Felton struggled last season. Statistically, it was one of his worst seasons in the association. A complete opposite of Calderon, Felton shot only 31% from downtown last season. Combine that with the fact that four of their top six three-point shooters from last season are not on the roster anymore (Side note: One of those players is Ricky Ledo who played a total of 33 minutes last season), it creates a tough new dynamic for the Mavs.
Where the Mavericks make up for that is the acquisitions of Lewis, Jefferson, and Parsons. Rashard Lewis resurrected his career last season during the Eastern Conference Finals and NBA Finals with the Miami Heat. Lewis will be a nice replacement when Nowitzki needs to rest. Essentially, the Mavericks will always have a stretch four on the floor, a position that has become of vital importance to championship contenders in the past few years. Richard Jefferson, as much as Spurs fans don’t like him, played reasonably well for the Utah Jazz last season. With Jae Crowder and Chandler Parsons in the small forward rotation, Jefferson may not play a ton of minutes, but can provide a solid influx of minutes.
Chandler Parsons was a tremendous signing. With the likely departure of Shawn Marion, Dallas needed a replacement at small forward, and they got younger and better. Parsons has steadily improved throughout his three seasons in the NBA in nearly every aspect. Parsons also plays very well against the Spurs, scoring over 20 points six of the eight contests against San Antonio. His defense has fluctuated throughout his career, but he is a downgrade from Marion on that end.
Where the Mavericks have improved the most is with Tyson Chandler. While Parsons may have more upside and scoring ability, the Mavericks most glaring weaknesses last year were rebounding and defense, two areas where the other Chandler excels. While Tyson Chandler has had health issues throughout his career, especially recently, he immediately brings an intimidation and rim protecting factor Dallas hasn’t had since Chandler was there last time.
Seeing as Dallas was San Antonio’s toughest out in the playoffs last year, and they improved their roster, there is no doubt that they are a contender. In the West Playoffs, they will be incredibly tough to defeat if they are healthy. Currently, they are tied for the third best team in the West, in my opinion. San Antonio and Oklahoma City still stand as favorites out West, but Dallas and Los Angeles (not the Lakers. Swaggy P isn’t going to get them anywhere) will be threats as well.
Essentially, Dallas is to be feared and they won’t go quietly.