As we finish up preseason, the Mavs aren’t guaranteed much heading into the season, but they are guaranteed these 4 things.
The Dallas Mavericks have their last preseason game tomorrow night against the Hornets with a 6:00pm tip. They destroyed the Beijing Ducks, as they should have. They split the China series vs the 76ers and have one left to play against a Hornets team that has won 3 of 4 this preseason and looks to make some waves in the softened Eastern Conference. We’ve yet to see the Mavs at full strength, with both Dirk and Harrison Barnes being sidelined while recovering from injury and DeAndre Jordan missing the China trip due to a death in the family. The Mavs definitely look different than last year headed into the regular season, even with us having to guess at what that TRULY looks like. So here are 4 ways things that I guarantee you’ll see from your Mavs going into the regular season.
Faster Pace of Play
Last year, the Mavs ranked 26th in the league in Pace. If the preseason games have shown you anything, it has shown you that this team means to move up and down the floor. With Dirk not playing yet, and when he does, he’ll be with the 2nd unit, the speed at which this team will transition the ball will move up astronomically.
Rick Carlisle all but confirmed this to the media at practice last week by equating over-dribbling the ball and slowing possessions down as a “one way ticket to death”. There was also mention of a ‘dribble limit’ of 3 or 4 dribbles before they pass to emphasize ball movement. With the slowest person in our starting lineup being a slimmed down DeAndre Jordan, expect this team to be quicker and to not settle for late clock heroics. We will definitely move up from the bottom of the barrel in pace this year.
Winning the Rebounding Battle
Last year, our leading rebounder was Harrison Barnes with 6.1 rebounds per game. He wasn’t even a center and he led our team. This idea was played out in our season rankings. We were 30th (dead last) in offensive rebounds, 21st in defensive rebounds, and 27th in total rebounds at 41.3 rebounds per game.
Given this, it’s a good thing the Mavs recruited the second best rebounder in league last year (second only to Andre Drummond). DeAndre Jordan had 1171 total rebounds; good enough for 15.1 rebounds a game. It should be noted that the Clippers were 15th in rebounding last year as opposed to the 27th rank the Mavs earned. So it’s not to say that the Mavs will win the rebounding battle every game, but they definitely shouldn’t lose it every game anymore.
A Triple Double
The only triple double by a Maverick last year was by Dennis Smith Jr. on December 29th, 2017 with a stat line of 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists and became the youngest Maverick to ever record one and in the shortest amount of playing time no less.
There should be circumstance enough this year that SOMEONE will get a triple double, but not many. Dennis doesn’t have a Westbrook-esque situation to do it often, especially now that the passing is split by him and Luka and the lion’s share of the rebounding will be done by DeAndre. But there should be a time where either of our ball handlers should have opportunity to score one. IF Dennis gets it, he’ll fill up the points and just barely squeak in with rebounds. If Luka does it, it will be full of assists and barely make the cut for points scored. But I guarantee one of them will go off and have one sometime this year.
I GUARANTEE THE MAVS WIN MORE GAMES THIS YEAR. If they somehow manage to not, I will literally eat my hat. We can set up a livestream, I don’t care. The Mavs will win more.
This is not a bold claim by any stretch as the roster has improved in ways that you can look up through the back articles of this site, but suffice to say this is both the safest guarantee as well as the most exciting.
Last year, the Mavs average margin of victory -3.04. That means that the Mavs lost most games and won most games by a very, very narrow margin. To put it in perspective, the Mavs lost over 20 games by 5 points or less. This year, they have a better defender down low who will also get clutch rebounds to close out games that they didn’t have. This year, there will be more speed and more possessions than last. They have another dynamic playmaker added to the team. This year, all of the youth has another year of experience under their belt. Even in a difficult Western Conference, they will win more close games. And for those of you so concerned about how many times they play the teams of the West, they still have 28 games against teams from the East. The NBA is hard and the Mavs aren’t immediately a top 4 team in their conference, but they will win more games this year. You can count on that.
The regular season opens next Wednesday, October 17th against the Phoenix Suns and their #1 overall draft pick DeAndre Ayton at 9:30pm CT on ESPN. We get to watch #1 and, essentially, #3 picks in this year’s draft battle to see who gets out of the lottery basement first. It’s going to be a fun season, y’all.
PHOTO: Getty Images & The Ringer Illustration