Backcourt additions bring experience and versatility

DALLAS — It was seemingly a never-ending trend for the 2012-13 Dallas Mavericks: late-game collapses.

But, with several key off-season additions, the Mavericks don’t see that being the case this upcoming season.

Last season, while failing to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2000 thanks to a 41-41 record, the Mavericks’ lack of continuity translated into an inability to close out games. That was no more evident than in the Mavs’ 3-8 record in overtime games, which included dropping their first seven contests that required an extra period.

But, after addressing their backcourt needs with the additions of veterans Jose Calderon, Monta Ellis, Devin Harris and Wayne Ellington, in addition to rookies Gal Mekel, Shane Larkin and Ricky Ledo, the Mavs would appear to now have stabilizing cohorts to assist 11-time All-Star power forward Dirk Nowitzki down the stretch of games. And, according to Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, that may prove to be the greatest difference from a season ago.

“Our nemesis last year was close losses,” Carlisle confessed during last week’s introductory press conference for the team’s off-season signees. “At one point, I think we lost seven or eight overtime games in a row, which just hasn’t been the history here. A lot of that had to do with inexperience.”

He added: “You know, it’s exciting to have some new blood on our roster. There’s a lot of opportunities here where you can analyze how you can attack with these guys in the right system for them to be successful this season.”

Attacking in a variety of ways is what Mavericks owner Mark Cuban expected to see from last season’s squad when adding the likes of point guard Darren Collison and sharpshooter O.J. Mayo. However, despite ranking eighth in the league while scoring 101.1 points and fifth while dishing out 23.2 assists an outing as a team, the Mavs would consistently lack an identity at the end of ballgames.

That shouldn’t be the case going forward, says Cuban, who adds that the Mavericks’ versatility and depth could become the team’s calling cards.

“I mean, we really didn’t know. We kind of hoped last year, but we didn’t really have as much versatility,” Cuban explained. “You know, there were things last year that each of our guys did that were good, but there were things that they couldn’t do that kind of held us back. I think now we have so much depth. I mean, it’s incredible how much depth we have. We’re going to be able to mix and match players in so many different ways that there’s no lineup we won’t be able to battle against. … There’s just going to be so many different ways we can play this lineup. It’s going to be fun. Hey, maybe Coach [Carlisle] will throw out the 6-3-and-under league and let Monta play center. I don’t know, but we’ve got so much depth, it’s going to be crazy.

“It’s going to be interesting and it’s going to be fun. We’ve got depth and we’ve got experience and we’ve got youth and we’ve got some athleticism. It’s a nice complement of players.”