Thursday , Oct , 08 , 2009 Oly Sandor

Are Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks the new San Antonio Spurs?

The Spurs seized the golfing season spotlight by trading for versatile star Richard Jefferson and signing the dependable Antonio McDyess, while the Mavericks took a more understated route, building on their strong 2009 by re-upping with point guard Jason Kidd and adding Drew Gooden and Shawn Marion. Now, in 2010, it’s Dallas, not San Antonio, who seem slept-on, overlooked and taken for granted. And with a potentially great starting unit and deep bench, Team Cuban could surprise come playoff time …


Are Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks the new San Antonio Spurs?Every day until the regular season begins, HoopsVibe the Blog will ask and answer an important question facing each of the NBA’s thirty teams. Weigh-in with thoughts on our Key Questions feature in the comment box below.

Today’s team:
The Dallas Mavericks.

Key Question:
Are the Dallas Mavericks the new San Antonio Spurs?

The Answer:
Call it ‘The Texas Switcheroo’.

Typically, the San Antonio Spurs crept up on the NBA by quietly upgrading their roster during the off-season. They left the high-profile moves and controversial headlines to their Lone Star cousins, the Dallas Mavericks.

Not this summer.

The Spurs seized the golfing season spotlight by trading for versatile star Richard Jefferson and signing the dependable Antonio McDyess, while the Mavericks took a more understated route, building on their strong 2009 by re-upping with point guard Jason Kidd and adding Drew Gooden and Shawn Marion.

Now, in 2010, it’s Dallas, not San Antonio, who seem slept-on, overlooked and taken for granted. And with a potentially great starting unit and deep bench, Team Cuban could surprise come playoff time.

They should have an elite first-five. Eleven seasons into his Hall of Fame career, Dirk Nowitzki has shown little sign of slowing. The German will get his 25 points and 9 rebounds per night, but the Mavericks need him to lead and defend like he did during the latter part of last season.

Armed with a new three-year deal, Kidd will again handle the point-guard duties. No longer an elite table-setter, the veteran will serve as sideline boss Rick Carlisle’s on-court coach. In somewhat limited minutes, he’ll still post respectable assist and rebound numbers.

Kidd’s most important job will be to keep others happy, though. For instance, the temperamental Josh Howard needs consistent touches early in the game to re-establish himself as a star. Marion, also an emotional star, has to get his in the open court; Gooden excels when receiving regular service on the block.

Gooden, Howard, Kidd, Marion, and Nowitzki are all above average rebounders and defenders. So, as a group, they’re ideal for Carlisle’s get-stops system and, on both ends of the floor, match-up favourably against most starting units.

There is also great depth. Jason ‘The Jet’ Terry is a perennial Sixth Man of the Year candidate, while Erick Dampier and Tim Thomas provide insurance down-low. However, the energetic Jose Barea and tough James Singelton are worth watching. And several others are capable of filling a role in an emergency.

Not long ago, Dallas considering trading Nowitzki and starting over. Instead of following the conventional model of bottoming-out by trading assets for draft picks and cap space, they re-tooled on the fly around Nowitzki.

This was the right decision. The Mavericks are again relevant and dangerous. Only now, they’re sneaking up on opponents.

Prediction:
3rd in in the Western Conference, capable of challenging the league’s best.  

Sound off: Where will Dallas finish in 2010? Get at us in the comment box below; follow Oly on HoopsVibe and Twitter. Photo courtesy of webcoderguy.