3. Dallas Mavericks – 36-30 (2011-2012)
For as much grief as can be given to the Mavericks for missing out on both Deron Williams and Dwight Howard, Mark Cuban found a way to at least save face with the secondary acquisitions he was able to make. While I’m far from agreeing with his post-summer assessment that he’s better off not signing Deron Williams and acquiring Dwight Howard, I’m not willing to completely write the Mavericks off as a doom and gloom case. Trouble is, they could have used a healthy Dirk Nowitzki to return after what ended as an up and down season in 2011-12.
Nowitzki is far from healthy, as the 7-foot sharpshooting PF is just returning to riding an exercise bike following a recent knee procedure. Initial reports had a return date around 4.5 weeks into the season. Now, more optimistic estimates have Nowitzki available somewhere between the second and third weeks. The additions of Brand and Kaman should somewhat remedy the absence in the interim, but they are going to need a healthy and strong return from their face of the franchise in order to remain relevant in the playoff picture out West.
Mayo and Collison are good pick-ups. Regardless of Mayo’s defensive limitations and propensity to over-dribble at times, I’d like to think Rick Carlisle will be able to find a way to maximize his talents with time. Collison, while not Jason Kidd in terms of the experience, is more than serviceable and looking to improve at just 25-years-old. Vince Carter and Shawn Marion both have enough in the tank to provide a veteran presence.
Key Additions: OJ Mayo, Darren Collison, Elton Brand, Chris Kaman
Key Departures: Jason Kidd, Lamar Odom
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