Josh Bowe, editor of Mavs Moneyball, joined Preston to preview the Dallas Mavericks as we continue our jaunt through the Southwest Division.
The Mavericks just suffered through their worst season since the turn of the millennium — just the second time they missed the playoffs in the last 17 years — so many fans who were unaccustomed to losing were left with a giant pit in their stomachs.
Yep, the rebuild is on in Dallas, but it looks like it may not be a long process. The Mavericks just drafted their point guard of the future in Dennis Smith Jr., recently traded for a hopeful Tyson Chandler defensive clone in Nerlens Noel and maintain faith that Harrison Barnes is on the right path to be a high usage, go-to scorer.
Although there is excitement in Dallas about watching a potential rookie of the year and the most athletic roster in some time, don’t expect Mark Cuban to make any short-sighted moves. The team isn’t probable to win 40 games so the Mavericks are wisely saving their cap space for the future, whether they add a star through a big trade or during the next free agency period or a deal which brings good assets after absorbing another team’s bloated contract.
The biggest question from a strategic standpoint may involve Dirk Nowitzki: Will he be moved to the bench? There are a lot of arguments on both sides, but Josh feels the aging star will remain a starter as it’ll be easier on his body to play in minutes following warmups and not ones entering games cold.
After Smith Jr., most eyes will be trained on Barnes to see if he can take another step in his development and perhaps knock on the door of All-Star status. Although no one should expect him to make the squad — ahem, the Western Conference is stacked, Josh would settle for Barnes making his teammates a little better and getting to the free throw line on a more consistent basis.
One thing Barnes already does do well is score, and he primarily achieves that by seeking out size mismatches. When he mans the four spot, he’s comfortable against most bigger, slower players and uses his speed well to beat them off the dribble. Against smaller competition, Barnes likes to operate out of the post. This aspect is quickly becoming his bread and butter after learning a lot from Dirk last season.
Wesley Matthews is a big sore spot, thanks to production not coinciding with his contract. Understandably, a lot of fans are ready to move on, but don't expect Cuban to move him for scraps. He loves Wes and the Mavericks want to be competitive until the season is for the most part decided.
Finally, how does a Mavericks fan see Rajon Rondo? As least Josh was honest in stating that a lot of animosity was built up following the disastrous trade with Boston, costing Dallas a lot of valuable assets at the time in Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder and a couple of draft picks. In his eyes, Rondo is an overrated defender who can’t hit a free throw, but it was impossible for Josh to remain wholly objective.