Before the NBA season begins we predict the unpredictable with educated speculation. Statistical leaders, starting five, team record and MVP are analyzed.
Harrison Barnes, 25 PPG
Harrison’s point production is sure to increase considering the current make up of the team. Adding DeAndre Jordan will positively impact how Barnes is used on offense. Expect an up tick in his usage rate. Increasing last years scoring average (18.9) by 6 points won’t be easy but is necessary. To begin the season we have to expect him to carry the offensive load.
DeAndre Jordan, 15 RPG
Rebounding has always been a constant for Jordan. He’s coming off a season where he averaged 15 rebounds per game and finished second in the league in total rebounds. Maintaining the same average this season should be the expectation any exceptions are sure to be immersed in scrutiny. Plain and simple Dre was brought here to secure the paint.
Luka Doncic, 7 APG
Dennis Smith Jr., 7 APG
Oddly JJ Barera lead the team in assists last season with 6.3 and Dennis was second with 5.2. This season the Mavericks can’t have a bench performer lead the team in assists. Presuming DSJ adds two assists to his per game total is legit considering his talent level. Luka becoming the primary ball handler for the team is a possibility, because of this, he could potentially average 7 APG as well. Chemistry and continuity in the back-court will play a major role in the outcome of this season. The talented young duo seem ready for the challenge.
Starting Five (opening day)
Point Guard, Dennis Smith Jr.
Dennis Smith Jr has the point guard spot on lock, but he must improve the poor turnover average (2.8) that plagued him last season. High flying antics make it hard keeping him off the floor but shooting a better percentage has to be a major focus. To remain in the starting lineup both his field goal percentage (39.5%) and 3pt FG (31.3%) must shift to NBA position norms.
Shooting Guard, Luka Doncic
Luka is, without a doubt, the biggest wildcard of the team. Recently, teammates have sung his praises giving credence to thoughts he may be a better distributor than Smith Jr. The maturation of the back-court has to be smooth and rapid to compete in the Western Conference. In a previous post, I recommended Luka may come off the bench but let’s be real. He’s going to start. Right?
Small Forward, Harrison Barnes
At small forward, the veteran, Harrison Barnes holds it down. Team depth will aid his overall offensive growth in 2018-2019. Specifically, decreased minutes at power forward allow him the opportunity to compete at his natural position of small forward. However, spot minutes at the four will prove helpful for the team as it adds flexibility and versatility only elite teams have. Barnes proved to be quicker, blowing by bigger defenders when placed in this role.
Power Forward, Dwight Powell
Dwight starting at power forward speaks to his upward statistical rise in both points and rebounds. Powell has proven to be a solid front-court player that Coach Carlisle depends on for a spark. Moving him to the starting lineup adds unpredictability to the roster. The Mavericks will have the ability to defensively match-up with most clubs with him playing power forward. If relegated to the bench its a role he has experienced success with.
Center, DeAndre Jordan
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to fill this position. The free agent big man was brought here to fortify the interior. Without his inside presence, the Mavericks can’t rebound and defend on at a high level.
Offensive output is why HB is the team MVP. He will have to make a significant leap in points production to make this a reality. Talent has never been an issue, however, matching expectations and performance is another thing. As previously eluded to, eliminating some of his minutes at power forward will help. Barnes’ professional consistency cant be questioned but unfortunately, many of his performances leave Mavs fans underwhelmed. To reach his goals a change must come in the form of a breakout season (25 PPG, 7 RPG, 4 APG)!
44-38, 10th place Western Conference
Although a major improvement from last season I foresee a 44-38 record in 2018-2019. Upgrading an offense previously ranked 28th in scoring while maintaining a 12th rank defense will be the primary focus. The addition of talent will no doubt make for a more competitive team but ultimately, for fans, this season will be a test of patience. After a productive off-season, it’s understandable expectations grew but, the Western Conference is significantly stronger. Expecting this group to compete with the Warriors, Lakers, and Rockets is misguided. Battling for a late playoff spot is well within reach. The Mavericks end the season ranked 10th in the West Conference, up three spots from last years 13th place finish.
For some teams missing the playoffs three consecutive seasons would be devastating. For the Mavericks, the experience could prove to be extremely helpful. Don’t forget we are still in search of a superstar free agent. Proving to the NBA community that the Mavericks are headed in the right direction will be an overarching narrative this season. We are sure to be in the free agent hunt again next season.
Photo- Stefan Stevenson, Star-Telegram