Take a trip down memory lane with me for just a moment. Let’s go back and start in 1988 … the year the Mavs made it to the Western Conference Finals against the Lakers.
At that point it was the deepest Dallas had ever been in the playoffs. James Donaldson and Roy Tarpley patrolled the paint. Donaldson was an All-Star that season and Tarpley won the Sixth Man of the Year Award.
Fast forward to 2006. The Mavs made their first appearance in the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat. That year, the frontcourt featured Dirk Nowitzki, DeSagana Diop, and Erick Dampier.
Fast forward with me one more time to 2011. The year the Mavs returned to the NBA Finals and captured their first NBA Championship. Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler, and Brendan Haywood manned the middle.
If you haven’t caught on yet, there is a trend emerging here. If you go back and look at those three teams, one of the common denominators is the presence of quality big men. Not just one, but multiple big men who could score, rebound, and block shots. One of the strengths of the 2013-14 Mavericks will be the center and power forward positions due to the players added this offseason.
Obviously Dirk is Dirk and he is going to do what he does, but the big men the Mavs surround him with are what’s most important. One of the biggest additions to the frontcourt is Samuel Dalembert. The 11-year veteran averages 8 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game. For comparison, Tyson Chandler averages 8.7 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game. As you can see, the stat lines are quite comparable.
In addition to Dalembert, the Mavs also added DeJaun Blair. I’m sure most Mavs fans are familiar with his game due to his time in San Antonio. What the 6-foot-7 Blair lacks in size, he more than makes up for with hustle. Dallas also recently brought in Fab Melo who will be vying for a roster spot in training camp. Melo has been bouncing around the NBA, but hopefully he finds a home here in Dallas. Those are just the new guys! I haven’t even mentioned Brandan Wright, Shawn Marion, and the others returning from last season.
Big men play a huge role in the NBA. When you look at three of the most historically successful teams the Mavs have had, one thing they all had in common was quality big men. Based on the roster right now, that’s one asset the Mavs have in droves.
Think about all that size mixed in with the other new additions to the backcourt like Ellis, Calderon, and Harris. When head coach Rick Carlisle gets this group on the same page, it will make for exciting basketball.
Hopefully we’ll be able to mention this team in the same vein as the ones referenced above when discussing the most successful Mavericks teams of all-time.