Despite doubters, Mavs remain confident in new-look team

DALLAS — Despite the lack of respect the new-look Dallas Mavericks seem to be garnering from their naysayers heading into the upcoming season, the team’s confidence doesn’t appear shaken one bit as it prepares for the start of training camp on Oct. 1.

This week, released its annual offseason report card series, grading the Mavericks’ summer at a C despite the team’s roster shakeup and influx of talent.

Citing the Mavs’ free-agent pursuit of Dwight Howard as one reason for the lackluster grade, the site also seemed less than impressed by the front office’s collection of acquisitions. Still, while acknowledging that having 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki healthy for a full season should help, it’s the A grade received by Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle that seems to boost the team to an average score.

That’s just fine by team owner Mark Cuban, who spoke confidently against skeptics while introducing the team he assembled.

“I love the team we’ve put together,” Cuban said during an introductory press conference for the club’s summer signees last month. “Not that you’ve never heard me say that before, but the reality is we’ve never put together such a great complement. … First of all, there’s a lot of people downplaying Dirk like he can’t play anymore, and that’s just not the case. We think Dirk’s got a lot more to give. He’s working hard to be ready, and we think we’ve put a lot of great players around him.

“We feel we’ve put together a great complement of players around Dirk that fill up specific needs and that together with Coach [Carlisle] as a team we’re going to be really effective and good,” he added. “I mean, people are picking us to be ninth (in the Western Conference standings). People are picking us to not have as good a record as last year. That’s OK, because everybody every year says we’re not going to be very good, and I think we’ve got a great squad that knows how to play together. … You know, we’ve got a great nucleus of guys that I’m super excited about. It’s going to be a fun year.”