Let’s get specific. You don’t just climb into the league’s elite with broad strokes to cover all problems; the Mavs need to hone in on the specifics that limited them last year in order to go forward. We’ve already painted what should be the Mavs’ team goals, and the same policy goes for this set of attainable standards: comment away with anything you guys feel is missing, and we’ll see if we can’t start up the ol’ amendment process.
Without further ado:
- Prove that someone on the roster is capable of guarding quick point guards. J.J. Barea proved that he’s capable of at least making Tony Parker’s life difficult, but Rodrigue Beaubois, Quinton Ross, and even Shawn Marion and Josh Howard will likely get a stab at manning up on those speedy 1s. That lack of perimeter quickness proved to be a real shortcoming of last year’s Mavs, and this team will need to do a better job of both keeping up man-on-man and funneling opposing players into the help D.
- Improve the three point shooting margin. The Mavs have three point shooters. Dirk Nowitzki made his name in the league with that very shot, Jason Terry kills at that range, Jason Kidd is an old dog with a new trick, and a number of other players on the roster shoot at a good clip. And yet the team shot just 35% from three last season, good (bad?) for 25th in the league. Youch. That mark is made even more painful b the 37% shooting that the Mavs allowed from three, a simply unacceptable mark for a team with such lofty aspirations. On paper, the Mavs have helped their cause by adding Tim Thomas, Shawn Marion, and Quinton Ross into the rotation, while losing Antoine Wright. That should at least boost the Mavs’ three point attempts, but can they capitalize on the attempts given to them in the system? Or will we see shades of Matt Carroll, a shooter looking more and more like a man defeated by himself? Of course the margin doesn’t stop there. The Mavs’ perimeter D will need to boast quicker and more effective rotations in order to contest those open looks outside. Easy as pie, right?
- Mind the children. It’s important that the Mavs are competitive now, but perhaps equally so that they maintain some semblance of competitiveness when the bottom falls out. Dirk can’t be this team’s safety net forever, and finding suitable rotation players would at least pad the pit of spikes and lottery balls below with pillows. Beaubois is the key, but J.J. Barea and Quinton Ross (though he’s a bit old for this bunch) could also play important roles in the Mavs’ future at affordable prices.
- Ch-ch-ch-changes. Josh Howard will likely start at the 2, and his success in that transition will likely coincide with any larger gains the Mavs benefit from. Shooting guard and small forward aren’t startlingly different positions in today’s NBA or the Mavs’ offensive system, but a position change does pose a new set of unique problems.
- No concessions, if you please. Last season, the Mavs faced a bit of a problem. Playing Jason Kidd and Jason Terry together meant a potent offense, but a lacking defense. Playing Jason Kidd and Antoine Wright together brought a limited offense but a marginally superior defense. When faced with those two ‘evils’, what’s a head coach to do? Ideally, the Mavs should be able to field a backcourt that’s competitive on both ends, without clear concessions through weakness alone.