2016-17 Dallas Mavericks Season Preview: Does Harrison Have it?

The Dunkyard’s NBA season preview continues, with the ever-retooling Dallas Mavericks.

Last season by the numbers

  • Record: 42-40 (6th West)
  • Offensive rating: 104.8 (10th)
  • Defensive rating: 104.3 (16th)
  • Pace: 96.4 (23rd)
  • True shooting: 54.4% (14th)
  • Turnover rate: 12.0% (2nd)
  • Offensive rebounding: 20.6% (25th)
  • Defensive rebounding: 76.25 (13th)
  • Giveashitameter: 3rd
  • Highest PER*: 19.0 (Dirk)

(*) – minimum 1,000 minutes.

At a glance

(Converts the above rankings into a rating out of 10).

dal

Recap

The Mavs offense was marginally above average last season due primarily to their ability to protect the ball. The problem was that, despite all the extra shots, the end product was decidedly average. The main culprits were the Mavs’ three point shooting (ranked 23rd on accuracy) and inability to get the foul line (ranked 21st).

As far as naming names goes, Felton (50.2 TS%), Williams (53.0 TS%), Barea (53.6 TS%) and Matthews (53.2 TS%) were the main culprits. All up, the four of them chewed through more then 8,500 minutes and put up over 3,000 shots (out of a team total of 6,900). Yuck.

Dirk’s 55.5 TS% was only ever so slightly above the league-average than above average (tied 30th out of 76 power forwards) and considerably below his career average of 58.0%. That’s now four out of the last five season in which Dirk has shot at this level.

On the defensive end, the Mavs did a decent job of guarding the outside, ranking 9th on three point accuracy allowed. However, they were not so good on the inside, ranking 19th on two point percentage allowed and 21st on free throw attempts allowed. If the Mavs weren’t so lucky when it came to opponent free throw accuracy (ranked 4th), then the Mavs 16th ranked defense would have easily ranked a few spots lower.

Reasons to be optimistic

With Bogut and Barnes on board, the Mavs have acquired some championship pedigree and put a serious dent in their defensive problems. Bogut will also add a playmaking dimension to the Mavs offense that they have not had before.

After playing in the shadows of Curry, Thomson and Green, Barnes is ready to take on more responsibility and break out this season.

Dirk should be able to keep playing at something around last season’s performance level and Matthews should improve on his shitty display last year now that he’s got a full year under his belt following his Achilles injury.

Dwight Powell quietly had a very effective season last year, scoring 5.8 points and grabbing 4.0 boards per game in 14.4 minutes of action – with a PER of 16.9.While he’s not much of a shot blocker, he looks like he can more or less hold his own on defense too. If he can maintain or improve last season’s effort, then the Mavs will have a very good backup big to spell Dirk and Bogut.

All the above things put together should see the Mavs improve on last season.

Reasons not to be

Bogut’s body is unreliable and Barnes is quite possibly the most wildly overpaid max contract player the league has ever seen (4 years and $95 million).

Dirk just turned 38 years old. While his shooting ability keeps his game relevant, his body could have other things to say at any moment.

Of the Mavs backcourt quartet, only Barea (15.4) posted an above average PER. Williams, Felton and Matthews had respective PERs of 14.6, 11.9 and 10.9. The Mavs did nothing during the offseason to fix this situation other than let Felton go to the loving arms of GM Doc Rivers.

Despite the defensive improvements, the Mavs are still well off contender status and have 3 years of Matthews at $17 million per season and 4 years of Barnes at $22 million per season left. Matthews posted a PER of 10.9 last season, while Barnes had a PER of 12.3. If both of them don’t make significant improvements, then the Mavs will have long-term problems.

Major Ins 

Andrew Bogut, Harrison Barnes.

Major Outs

Chandler Parsons, Zaza Pachulia, Raymond Felton, David Lee.

The Dunkyard’s recommended ‘death’ lineup

  • Williams
  • Matthews
  • Barnes
  • Dirk
  • Bogut

Dave’s lowdown

With Nowitzki having seemingly been around since Hitler was just a Private, the fact that he remains the Mavericks best player isn’t good news for Dallas. At this stage of his career he should be playing Robin to someone else’s….anyone else’s Batman.

The addition of Bogut gives the team their best defensive linchpin since 2010-11 Tyson Chandler, while Matthews should return to somewhere near his Portland level which means Rick Carlisle should be able to steer this team safely back to the playoffs. Whether they can cause any surprises once they get there will depend on Barnes’ transformation into the star we are all hoping he can be.

Forecast record: 45-37

Assuming everyone stays healthy, the Mavs should see some improvement this season, particularly at the defensive end. Shooting will remain a problem and restrict what they will be able to do. Another 5th-8th seeding in the West beckons.

That said, any significant injury time to either or both of Dirk and Bogut could derail things completely.