Mavs unveil new-look team, sit several key contributors during Fan Jam scrimmage

DALLAS — Although they weren’t at full strength during the open scrimmage portion of the organization’s annual Fan Jam event, the Dallas Mavericks gave their home crowd a glimpse into how the team will look this upcoming season.

Sunday, the new-look Mavericks took the court for the first time in front of the American Airlines Center crowd, treating their hometown fans to a show with an open practice. An estimated 4,500 fans attended the event, hoping to get their first look at this year’s team.

However, with several of their top contributors sitting out the scrimmage, the Mavs wouldn’t be able to showcase their full potential while playing two 10-minute halves. Still, thanks to an offensive barrage, fans didn’t leave disappointed after seeing the blue team defeat the white squad, 42-32.

“I thought the offensive flow was good. We could use work on defense, and we can use work with our health,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said after watching his team play through its injury concerns. “Let’s face it, we’ve got most of our main guys out. But the good news is they’re doing better. A lot of those guys got pretty significant workouts earlier today, and so we just keep chipping away in the right direction with our health.”

Opting to sit 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki (rest), small forward Chandler Parsons (right knee) and point guard Deron Williams (calf), the white squad rolled out a starting lineup of veteran guard Raymond Felton, new addition Jamil Wilson, forward Maurice Ndour, 10-year pro Charlie Villanueva and center Zaza Pachulia. Meanwhile, the blue team played without prized offseason addition Wesley Matthews (left Achilles tendon), second-year standout Dwight Powell (elbow), Tunisian center Salah Mejri (leg) and free-agent signee JaVale McGee (leg), sending out a starting lineup of returning guards J.J. Barea and Devin Harris, rookie first-round pick Justin Anderson, versatile forward Jeremy Evans and big man Jarrid Famous.

The two teams then found themselves knotted at 21-all after the first half of play.

With Villanueva catching fire, the white team attempted to keep pace in the second half. But an alley-oop connection from Anderson to Evans ignited the crowd while giving the blue team a slight edge. New addition John Jenkins then put the finishing touches on the blue team’s win with scores down the stretch.

The Mavs now hope to use Sunday’s scrimmage as a precursor for the preseason. And while hoping for a change in their health situation, the Mavericks will return to action Tuesday for the exhibition opener as they play host to the Denver Nuggets.

“There were good things, particularly offensively. Defensively, we’ve got to keep working. And again, we’ve just got to keep everybody coming into the training room and doing what they need to do to get healthy,” Carlisle confessed.

“I mean, we have a lot of guys that are going to be a big part of what we’re trying to do not suiting up for us yet. But I’m excited, though,” Villanueva added while grading the team following Sunday’s scrimmage. “I think with Wes, Chandler and D-Will, once those guys get back, it’s going to be very exciting. It’s going to be interesting.”

Note: The Mavericks will open the preseason Tuesday night, hosting the Denver Nuggets. The game will air locally on TXA 21 at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.

Mark Cuban on 103.3 FM ESPN

Mark Cuban on 103.3 FM ESPN

Mavs head honcho Mark Cuban joined Tim MacMahon and Steve Dennis on 103.3 FM ESPN to talk about Sunday’s World Record Knockout game, the start of the 2015-16 season and much more.

Unheralded new addition Jeremy Evans takes on heavy responsibility during Mavs’ training camp

DALLAS — Although he was one of the Dallas Mavericks’ unheralded signings this offseason, versatile big man Jeremy Evans has been handed the most responsibility early during the team’s training camp.

The 6-foot-9, 200-pound Evans spent his first five seasons in Utah, coming to Dallas after averaging 3.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and 10.8 minutes in 219 games. He also showcased plenty of raw athletic ability, winning the Slam Dunk contest at All-Star weekend in 2012.

Evans, 27, played collegiately for four seasons at Western Kentucky University, averaging 10.0 points and 6.9 rebounds in 34 games during his senior year. He also left as the school’s all-time leader in blocked shots with 224, making him attractive to Utah in the second round of the 2010 NBA Draft before being selected with the 55th overall pick.

The Mavericks then inked Evans to a reported two-year deal worth the league minimum this summer, looking to use his rare athleticism to fill the void left by two of the team’s top contributors from last season. And while working the athletic big man at three different positions during training camp, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle is already attempting to tap into Evans’ full potential.

“Well, he’s the only guy on the team that we’re having learn three positions, which is hard,” Carlisle said while praising Evans’ versatility following Thursday’s team practice. “It’s a daunting task, ’cause the five, the four and the three are all so different. The five and four are certainly more similar, but three is different than the bigger positions. So, you know, that’s going to be a lot of work and it’s going to be a lot of reps. You know, (Al-Farouq) Aminu ended up doing that last year. It took a while for him to really get comfortable with it, and I suspect it’s going to take a while for Jeremy to get completely comfortable with it. But it speaks to the kinds of diverse abilities we feel he has.”

Evans primarily saw time as a backup power forward in Utah, averaging 2.4 points and 1.9 rebounds in 38 games for the Jazz last season. He also connected on 55.2 percent from the field, showing a rare ability to finish above the rim with regularity.

The Mavericks now hope Evans can fill the void of former big man Brandan Wright, who was moved in the five-player trade with Boston last season for the acquisition of four-time All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo. But as Carlisle points out, Evans is being asked do much more than just fill Wright’s shoes.

“You know, you’re always going to miss a guy like Wright. You know, particularly from a roll-and-finish standpoint. He’s a very special player, but this is a different year. We wanted to get a couple of younger, athletic guys like that. You know, Jeremy Evans and Maurice Ndour are guys we’re looking at to kind of feel that niche for us,” Carlisle explained.

He added: “I spent a lot of time with [Evans] this summer, so I feel like I got a good head start with kind of what I feel he can do. And look, we’re expanding what’s being asked of him. In Utah, he was playing mostly backup four, and he’d play occasionally five when they went small. But it was not very often. You know, we’re stretching out his shooting range to the three-point line. And he’s made a few threes in his career, but he hasn’t shot that many. And we’re having him learn three positions, so it’s a great opportunity for him. But it is a lot of work.”

Evans, a career 20-percent shooter from three-point range, says he’s up to the challenge, looking to expand on the role that Wright thrived in during his team in Dallas.

Prior to the mid-season trade, Wright averaged 8.8 points and 4.1 rebounds in 18.7 minutes an outing while coming off the bench in 27 games for the Mavericks. More impressively, Wright connected on a staggering 74.8 percent from the field, developing a chemistry with Mavs sixth man Devin Harris in the team’s pick-and-roll sets.

Evans will now look to excel in a more expanded role, hoping to add a three-point shot to the above-the-rim finishes that Mavericks fans came accustom to seeing during Wright’s 3 1/2 seasons in Dallas.

“The past eight years I’ve been at the four and five. You know, back in high school, of course, I used to play (on the perimeter). But that’s a big change, especially for the NBA,” Evans explained while addressing his added responsibilities. “You build habits of running into the paint, rebounding and just guarding guys inside, and it’s tough taking a step outside against bigger and faster guys and guys at this level.

“It’s pretty tough, just because you want to come in and do what [Carlisle] asks and catch on quick, but basically I’ve just been trying to do what they ask of me. It’s tough learning (to play small forward). But as far as getting it down, I’ve just got to go over the plays and spend extra time with the coaches. You know, this summer and right now in practice, I feel tremendous as far as knowing that I’m going to knock (outside shots) down. If I shoot it, I feel like now I’m going to make it. So, I feel like now it’s a big change. The coaches, they’ve told me where I’m going to play, and I’ve been in positions where I’m going to shoot the ball. I’ve been comfortable, and I’ve just been taking the shots and knocking them down. I feel like that’s big, because they’re putting me exactly where they want me to be. I’ve just got to stay focused and stay under control, come out and keep working every day. That’s why we’re here to practice.”

Evans admits to being caught in a whirlwind early in training camp while attempting to grasp everything Carlisle threw his way. However, the lanky big man has been able to turn to a former teammate in Harris, who also played in Utah for 1 1/2 seasons after being moved from the then-New Jersey Nets during the ’10-11 campaign.

Harris says Evans is more than capable of thriving in Carlisle’s system, using Wright as an example of how effective the new addition could be this season. With that said, the veteran guard knows Evans has plenty on his plate while playing more on the perimeter, looking to make life easier on the newcomer when the two have been on the court together during practice.

And after forming a chemistry with Wright during their time together, Harris hopes his time with Evans in practice will translate to the games when the regular season gets underway.

“Well, I’ve played with Jeremy in Utah, so I know what he’s capable of. For him, it’s about getting the right timing, because he’s playing multiple positions,” Harris said. “You know, he’s playing some three and some four, so he’ll get it. It’s just more about us being on the floor at the same time and kind of reading one another. You know, he’s got to read my faces a little bit better and kind of figure out what I want when I see different situations, but I think he’s definitely getting better. He’s also asked to do something he’s never been asked to do. He’s on the perimeter a lot more, so I think that’s where his focus is right now.

“[Wright] was my go-to. He was like my bail-out guy and a guy I could always find on the court. We struggled a little bit with (not having Wright), but I think we have something similar with Jeremy.”

Past vs. Present: The Mavericks on NBA 2K

NBA 2K16 was released this week, and with it came all the usual excitement surrounding the game. But in addition to a new story mode, sharper graphics, more intuitive gameplay, and of course new rosters and ratings, one element of this particular installment in the long-running series is the inclusion of the 2002-03 Dallas Mavericks. Those Mavs were the first in franchise history to win 60 games in a season, and the club advanced to the Western Conference Finals behind the excellent play of Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, Michael Finely, and others. The team was so popular and exciting that it won over an entire new generation of fans, among them a young boy in rural Virginia named Justin Anderson.

Once news broke that the ’02-’03 Mavs be on the team, we knew here at that we’d need to pick up a copy of the game and see what that squad is all about. And that’s exactly what we did. But before we get to that team in all its glory, we had to check out the current version of the Mavs to see what it’s like to have Deron Williams at the helm of what’s sure to be a really exciting offense.

The 2015-16 Mavericks

The best way to figure out what a team is good at is just to play with it over and over again. 2K16 improved the pick-and-roll ball-handler controls so much that now you can command the screener where to come from and exactly what to do after he sets the screen. The Mavs’ offense, of course, is founded upon the pick-and-roll, so it only made sense to try that first.

The Williams/Nowitzki pick-and-pop is about as unstoppable as it gets in the game. Dirk is the most reliable knockdown mid-range shooter there’s possibly ever been, and it’s reflected in the game. He’s money from 15-18 feet, and that makes defending the Mavericks very difficult. Chandler Parsons is also a capable ball-handler and finisher, and both he and Wesley Matthews can shoot it like crazy.

In fact, the entire Mavs roster can shoot it. I simulated an entire season with the ’15-’16 club and, without influencing the gameplan, Dallas shot more threes than any other team in the NBA. The Mavs also connected on those shots at an extremely high clip — even Justin Anderson, who apparently had a bone to pick in regards to his dunk rating.


Some other season stats of note: Nowitzki averaged 20.8 points and 8.3 rebounds with 47.8/38.3/89.3 shooting splits. Parsons put up 16.0 points with 5.8 boards and 3.0 dimes. Williams dished out 7.0 assists and connected an a ridiculous 41.0 percent of his three-pointers and Matthews hit 38.4 percent of his own.

To put it simply, this is a really fun team to play with. Fortunately, as far as playing the game goes, the Mavericks have plenty of versatility all over the floor. For example, you could pair Dirk and Charlie Villanueva together in the frontcourt and play pure five-out basketball. Dallas has more shooting than potentially every other team in the game. It will also be interesting to see what happens in future roster updates once Parsons, Matthews, and JaVale McGee return to full health.


Of course, we couldn’t just stop at the ’15-’16 club. I started a MyLeague with the ’02-’03 Mavericks, and some of the numbers that team is capable of putting up are… well, absurd. First, here are the ratings for both teams.


While Young Dirk might only be an 88 overall, when you’re playing with him he feels like a 99. He’s straight up unfair most of the time, as he’s able to knock down shots from anywhere on the floor: the perimeter, the mid-range, around the basket, and, of course, in the post — though it’s notable that ’03 Dirk is an impeccable post player despite not adding that element prominently to his game until 2005.

Dirk vs. Dirk

Dirk posts up on... Dirk!

Just as the Williams/Nowitzki pick-and-pop is unstoppable, so too is the Nash/Nowitzki rendition. There are many years of actual film to back that up, but it just looks so nice in the game.

Dirk/Nash Pick-and-Pop

Longtime Mavs fans will recognize this play.

Aside from the obvious pick-and-pop, the ’02-’03 team plays exactly like it did in real life. A fast break follows every defensive stop, players are spotting up all over the floor, and the offense is wide-open. Remember that those Mavs featured Raef LaFrentz and Shawn Bradley at center — and occasionally Nowitzki — and each of those players could shoot it. Dallas played modern-day basketball almost 15 years ago. Playing with this team gives you an appreciation of just how far they pushed the limits of offensive basketball all those years ago.

Playing a season as these Mavericks is as rewarding as any franchise mode I’ve ever played on a 2K game. The numbers are monstrous. Here’s a walk through the season. I finagled with some of the coach’s settings before the season to increase the pace and encourage three-point shooting, but the results were negative. Dallas started 6-10. So, as any sensible person would, I reverted back to the original settings and it absolutely paid off. The Mavs won 12 of their next 16 games behind incredible play from Nowitzki. By the end of December he was averaging 29.6 points and 14.6 rebounds per game. Nash, meanwhile, was putting up 21.5 points and 9.1 assists on 50.5/40.6/92.5 shooting splits, and Michael Finely added 19.0 points, 5.6 boards, and 3.3 points. Dallas was the class of the league for that month.

By the All-Star break, Dallas had improved to 32-23 behind a sizzling offense that produced 110.4 points per 100 possessions. An 18-2 stretch from the break through mid-March — including a spotless 9-0 record during the team’s nine-out-of-10 games at home stretch — bumped the record up to 46-25. By the end of the season the team was rolling, finishing with a 51-31 record. Nowitzki led the way with stats that even Wilt Chamberlain would envy.


The rest of the team performed as well. For the season, the club scored 111.5 points per 100 possessions to lead the league. That mark would lead the NBA in almost any season ever. However, Nowitzki didn’t even receive a nod to an All-NBA team for his efforts. Numbers like that don’t come around very often, but I suppose the virtual media didn’t appreciate his performance enough.

All in all, the 2003 team almost makes buying the entire game worth it. There’s so much sentimental value not just in reliving the Big 3 Era, but also in hitting big shots with Nick Van Exel, swatting shots with Shawn Bradley, and using Raja Bell, Eddie Najera, and Adrian Griffin to dive on the floor and pester opponents. That magical team ushered in a new era of Mavs basketball and kick-started a run of success that’s still going.

The Big 3

Nash to Dirk to Fin: The three-man combination lit up the league in 2003.

OK, so the 2016 team is fun, and so is the 2003 squad. But here’s an even better idea: What if we combined them?


I couldn’t play 2K16 without bending the rules of the game somehow, so I decided to combine the best of both rosters to create a SuperMavericks team. And, because I was the de facto GM, I decided I’d take team strategy into my own hands. In true Maverick fashion, I bucked conventional basketball wisdom and set out to build an all-out offensive juggernaut. How does a rotation of Nash/Williams, Matthews/Van Exel, Finley/Parsons, Nowitzki/Villanueva, LaFrentz/Nowitzki sound? Yep, that’s right: 2016 Dirk would be the team’s backup center, playing 26 minutes per game off the bench as the fulcrum of a second unit featuring, among other players, Van Exel and Parsons. There is shooting and scoring all over the place.

I simulated another MyLeague season with the hybrid squad, and this team was a force to be reckoned with. The Mavs surged out to a 42-13 record at the break, leading the league by attempting 33.8 three-pointers per game. By season’s end, the team’s 57-25 record was second-best in the West, and Dallas led the league by scoring 115.7 points per game and 109.9 points per 100 possessions.

2003 Dirk led the team at 24.2 points and 12.2 boards per game, this time around earning an All-NBA Second Team nomination. Meanwhile, 2016 Dirk won Sixth Man of the Year by scoring 15.4 points on 44.5/37.3/88.5 splits, adding 7.4 rebounds to boot. Wesley Matthews was the second-leading scorer on the roster, pouring in 17.2 points. Nash and Williams, the point guards, combined for more than 20 points and 13 assists per game. Not bad.

The best part about running out a Nowitzki/Nowitzki frontcourt is all the ways you can use them in combination. Of course they can both spot up, but you’ve got to test their limits. In 2003, for example, Dirk played some point forward. 2016 Dirk is virtually perfect from the mid-range, so what better way to exploit mismatches than by dragging big men 25 feet from the basket and running a Nowitzki/Nowitzki pick-and-pop?

Dirk/Dirk Pick-and-Pop

Two Dirks are better than one!

Ball-handler Dirk (the 2003 version) wears No. 43 because 2016 Nowitzki has seniority. (At least that’s how I think that decision was made.)

There was a pretty big hullabaloo when consumers found out about 2K’s lower ratings this year than in years past. But while it might look like Parsons, for example, is rated too low, he doesn’t play that way. He can dribble, shoot, and finish, plus he’s got plenty of speed and athleticism. There doesn’t seem like much difference between a 79 and an 85 on this game, especially because the ratings are nuanced enough to highlight what players do well. (That’s why it feels like ’03 Dirk is a 99, not an 88. If you use him right, he might as well be a 99.)

Longtime 2K fans will dig the game no matter what, but Mavs fans might find 2K16 a little more enjoyable than any other version in the title’s history. That 2003 team brought joy to many, and with this game you can experience those good vibes all over again, in addition to all the extra stuff that makes 2K games worth playing.

Wesley Matthews continues to focus on his return, though season opener viewed as ‘long shot’

Practice Report: Wes Matthews

Wes Matthews on how important it is for him to be ready by opening night: "I don't miss games. I don't sit out. I don't miss practices. I want to be ready. I love basketball. I love this game and I think the best way you pay respects to it is by giving everything you have."

DALLAS — He was the prized offseason signing for the Dallas Mavericks this summer in free agency, inking a reported four-year deal worth $70 million to come to town after five seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers.

Now, while rehabbing his way back from a torn left Achilles tendon, swingman Wesley Matthews says he’s doing everything in his power to be on the court by Opening Night when the Mavericks begin the regular season in Phoenix on Oct. 28.

Matthews saw his 2014-15 season cut short after suffering the injury against the Mavericks on March 5. The 6-foot-5, 220-pounder averaged 15.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 steals in 60 games for Portland last season prior to the injury. He also connected on 44.8 percent from the field, swishing in 38.9 percent from behind the three-point arc to make the six-year pro an attractive prospect for the Dallas front office during free agency.

And with the goal of being ready for the season opener still at the top of his agenda, Matthews has entered the team’s training camp working closely with Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle and head athletic trainer Casey Smith to get back to 100 percent.

“Every day, every practice, we’re getting stronger and getting better,” Matthews said while giving an injury update following the team’s Wednesday practice. “You know, right now, it’s strength and it’s timing. You know, I haven’t been able to run in six months, let alone do basketball stuff, so it’s an adjustment. But today I was a lot better than I was yesterday, and the most important thing is there’s no soreness.

“It’s more of just a patience thing,” he added. “It’s something that you can’t rush and you can’t push. Like I said at the press conference (on Media Day), it’s like a battle that I’ve never experienced before, because it’s like a battle against my own body. It’s not an opponent or anybody but me, so I’m being receptive to what my body is telling me. I’m listening and trusting what the experts are saying and pushing within the limits.”

Matthews has yet to be cleared for full contact or full-speed drills, hoping to receive permission to take the restrictions off by the end of the first week of training camp. He’s then expected to slide into the Mavs’ starting lineup this season, looking to fill a void at shooting guard left by the free-agent departure of leading scorer Monta Ellis to Indiana.

The San Antonio native and son of two-time NBA champion Wesley Matthews Sr. played four collegiate seasons at Marquette, averaging 18.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.2 steals in 35 games as a senior to earn All-Big East Second Team honors. For his NBA career, he’s averaged 14.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.1 steals in his six professional seasons, making 381 starts in 441 total games.

Matthews now vows to take the court even better than he was before the injury, looking to showcase versatility during his first season with the Mavs.

“You know, we’re still progressing up to that, and I think we’ll start doing that by the end of the week,” Matthews said when gaging how soon he will be able to go through contact drills. “You know, I’m on the treadmill and we will incorporate that down to the court, but for now it’s a lot. You know, it’s a lot to load up right now. Right now, I’m responding how I figured I’d respond.

“I mean, obviously, it’s going to be a challenge. It’s going to be tough, but I think you guys are going to quickly know me. If you didn’t get it by the press conference, I don’t really care about what’s tough. You know, I’m going to get it done. It will be a challenge, but we’ll get there. You know, I’m doing three different (forms of cardio) a day. Obviously, you can’t simulate games until you’re in it and I’ll be winded for a little bit, but I’ll be alright. I’ve gotten better every single year, and I’m a no-excuse type of person. I felt that, if I had not gotten hurt, I would have been a lot better this next season. I’m not going to let an Achilles take that away from me. I put too much into this game. I care too much about this game. I want to win too badly to not become a better player. And I already feel it.”

Matthews has played in all 82 games three times in his young career, displaying his durability prior to going down with the injury last season. He now hopes to pick up where he left off at, looking to develop into the team’s iron man.

With that said, Carlisle is tempering the expectations for Matthews’ return to the court, taking a more cautious approach as the sharpshooter heads into the first season of a four-year deal.

“You know, the possibility of Wes being back for the opening game has not been ruled out. I personally view it as a bit of a long shot, but it is possible. He has done extremely well, and how it goes over the next few weeks will determine where he’s at,” Carlisle confessed.

Entering the league as an undrafted free agent with Utah before the ’09-10 season, Matthews has been defying the offs ever since. He also has seen growth in his game every season, expecting for that trend to continue during the upcoming schedule.

Known for providing stellar perimeter defense, Matthews also left Portland as the franchise leader in made three-pointers with 826. Matthews now sets out to shake himself free of the three-and-D label, hoping to display his full offensive repertoire in Carlisle’s system.

And while still targeting the opening game as his return date, Matthews doesn’t think the Mavericks’ fan base will have to wait long to see dividends from the organization’s investment.

“I don’t miss games, I don’t sit out, I don’t miss practices, and I want to be ready,” Matthews proclaimed. “I love basketball. I love this game. And I think the best way you pay respects to it is by giving everything you have. You know, I don’t want to wait. Again, I’m not pushing it. But if I’m ready to go, I want to be out there.

“I definitely understand the business aspect of it, and I understand that they want me. It’s a great thing to be wanted by a franchise, and they want me. Of course, they want me for four years. I just feel like the four years start Opening Night.”

Mavs focus on defensive principles early in training camp

DALLAS — With injury concerns entering the first day of training camp, the Dallas Mavericks used Tuesday’s morning practice session as a time to install their defensive sets.

Beginning training camp with a two-a-day practice format, the Mavericks utilized the morning session as a chance to focus on their defensive principles. The Mavs then returned to the floor for a night practice, putting to use what was learned earlier in the day during the first organized scrimmage.

And although a few of his top contributors were limited participants early in camp, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle was encouraged by what he saw.

“Well, I’ve been watching these guys for a month, you know, most of them, so everyone did well. And going forward we just look for daily improvement,” Carlisle said while assessing the first day of practice. “We’ve got to keep building on foundation stuff with each practice, and we’re working on health. So, you know, we had some guys that were a little limited (on Tuesday). Deron (Williams) was a little bit limited, but he’s doing a little bit better. You know, Dirk (Nowitzki) didn’t do any of the contact stuff, but he did a lot of the running stuff. (Chandler) Parsons and (Wesley) Matthews did no contact but a lot of running, and a lot of moving. And so, you know, those guys are getting some good work in.

“Practice was heavy on defense — transition defense and our basic principles. And we’ve just got to move forward from here.”

The initial practice proved to be a crash course for rookie first-rounder Justin Anderson, who will quickly try to pick things up during camp in order to contribute in Year 1.

Anderson was selected by the Mavericks with the 21st overall pick in June’s NBA Draft after averaging 12.2 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists during his junior season at Virginia. During his last collegiate season, Anderson was named to the NABC All-America Third Team and All-ACC Second Team after connecting on 46.6 percent from the field.

The 6-foot-6, 230-pounder turned heads during the Las Vegas Summer League in July, averaging 17.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.2 steals an outing for the Dallas squad en route to the quarterfinals of the tournament. Still, the rookie admits that his first day of training camp was just a step in the learning process as he attempts to absorb Carlisle’s system on the fly.

“You’ve got to keep up with the speed, but it was a great first day so far. … It was very technical and very detailed,” Anderson said following his first day of practice. “We spent a lot of time today defensively and offensively with the details as well, getting to our spots. We were working on spacing, understanding our concepts and just kind of moving slow to help our young guys, like myself. And then, for the older guys, giving them a chance to see what the younger guys are doing and to help them out as well.”

Young or old, the Dallas defense will certainly be tested this season while looking to make up for the free-agent departure of starting center Tyson Chandler. But as Carlisle confesses, there is plenty of room to improve after the Mavs ranked near the bottom of the league defensively last season.

The Mavericks featured the third-highest scoring offense in the NBA with 105.2 points per game and ranked eighth while dishing out 22.5 assists an outing during the ’14-15 campaign, respectively. The team’s downfall came at the defensive end of the floor, however, ranking just 25th in the league while allowing 102.3 points per game.

The Mavs also had just a 103.7 defensive rating per 100 possessions, ranking 18th in that department. And after grading out second to last in the league with only a 72.2 defensive rebounding percentage, Carlisle stressed to his players the importance of collectively finishing off possessions better on that side of the ball this season.

“You know, we’ve just got to do better at things,” the coach explained. “We were OK in some defensive areas last year, but we’ve got to be real good in transition D and our defensive rebounding has got to get a lot better. Both are going to be collective efforts. All five guys are going to have to participate in every defensive situation for us.

“From a mentality standpoint, we’ve got to be tied together with five guys in every defensive situation. From transition to all the different pick-and-roll angles to shell defense, containing the ball and rebounding at the defensive end.”

Despite Mavs’ injury concerns, plan remains in place to lighten Dirk Nowitzki’s load in ’15-16

DALLAS — After cutting his playing time to the fewest minutes he’s averaged per game since his rookie season, the Dallas Mavericks’ plan to lighten the load on 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki is expected to continue into the 2015-16 campaign.

Playing in 77 games during the ’14-15 schedule, Nowitzki finished second on the team in scoring with an average of 17.3 points per outing in only 29.6 minutes a contest. Nowitzki also showed that he still has plenty left in the tank last season, connecting on 45.9 percent from the field and 38 percent from three-point range.

Looking to keep the burden off Nowitzki’s broad shoulders early in training camp, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle believes his franchise player will be fresh for the upcoming season. That said, Carlisle acknowledges that it may be hard not to lean on Nowitzki heavily while the team’s injury concerns work themselves out early in the schedule.

And with a talented supporting cast around him, the Mavs will do their best to keep Nowitzki’s workload down this season.

“We’re going to have [Nowitzki] on a very limited-contact basis the first week, and then we’ll kind of go from there. Other than that, I think we’re OK at the moment,” Carlisle explained while addressing Nowitzki’s workload when training camp opens on Tuesday.

He added: “We’ve got to try to notch it down a little bit. You know, I’d say mid-twenties. … It would be good to get him to 26 (minutes per game). You know, it’s tricky, because if you play him too few minutes, he’ll never get into the flow of the game. And he’s very much a rhythm and flow player, so I have no concerns that we won’t be able to continue the transition and just try to lighten the load a little bit, in terms of the minutes. And it’s a deep roster. There’s a lot of talented guys. There’s a lot of guys that can score. Our shooting, I think, is better in a lot of areas, and so we’ll be fine there.”

After averaging 37.7 minutes per game during the ’08-09 season, Nowitzki saw his playing time steadily slide prior to going back up to 32.9 minutes an outing in the ’13-14 campaign. Carlisle then managed to trim Nowitzki’s minutes under 30 for the first time since he was a rookie, hoping that formula again preserves the 7-footer’s health during the upcoming season.

With less playing time, Nowitzki has remained effective as a scorer throughout the grueling 82-game schedule, making his 13th All-Star appearance last season and moving into seventh place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. The Mavericks now hope that Nowitzki can continue to produce with less playing time entering his 18th season, looking to continue the trend of giving the 7-footer longer rest during games and scheduled off days on back-to-backs.

The 37-year-old Nowitzki demonstrated that he can still handle a heavy load during the team’s first-round playoff series against Houston, averaging 21.2 points and 10.4 rebounds in 36.2 minutes an outing. Don’t be surprised now if Nowitzki again exceeds expectations during the regular season.

And with trust in the coaching staff to send him out to the court at the right times, Nowitzki says he will enter the season with a simple goal of being effective whenever he’s called upon.

“You know, I don’t really have a number in my head. That’s up to the coaches,” Nowitzki said while addressing his playing time this season. “I’m going to get ready for whatever it’s going to be and however it’s going to play out. I’m sure there’s some games where you go a little higher. I’m not sure what we’re doing on back-to-backs here and there, but I’m sure there’s going to be a little rest built in there. And you just have to wait and see how the season goes. I think last year I felt really good in the month of November. When I started off, I felt good and I was moving well. And then I kind of fell in a hole from December till March, so I’m hoping to avoid that hole this year. And hopefully I can still play effective minutes when I’m out there.

“You know, last year was really the first time we started taking some back-to-backs off. But then there was a stretch last year where I think I played four games in five nights closer towards the end (of the season). So, like I said, we’ll just play it by ear. There’s not something or games that I have circled that I’m taking off now. We’ll just go through the season, and I’ll talk to Coach and the training staff and see how we feel from week to week. But, you know, that’s not really something that I look forward to, reducing my minutes or taking games off. That’s not something I’ve done my entire career. And I won’t do much (this season), either.”