DALLAS — These are not yesterday’s Dallas Mavericks, and that’s exactly what they prefer.
After last season brought to an end a 12-year stretch of consecutive postseason appearances, the new-look Mavericks believe they are once again poised for a playoff push after a near-complete roster shakeup. And with upgrades across the board, the Mavs could once again place themselves among the Western Conference’s elite.
“Looking at the team last year, I think our main goal is just getting back to the playoffs,” new addition Devin Harris said in a recent interview with Mavs.com as he gets set for his second stint in Dallas. “I think they missed (the playoffs) for the first time in 12 or 13 years, so that’s our main goal. And then, when we get there, we have the talent to go deep. I think that’s our main focus.”
The Mavericks’ front office certainly did its part to build a team capable of contending for a playoff spot, making a bevy of moves to build around 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki.
While it didn’t garner some of the top headlines this offseason, the Mavericks appear to have made a significant upgrade at the point guard position after the signing of 31-year-old veteran Jose Calderon, who NBA.com mentions as one of its five most underrated summer additions to a new team.
In addition to leading the league in 3-point percentage a season ago while connecting on 46.1 percent from behind the arc, Calderon brings with him stability at the point that the Mavs lacked while shuffling a multitude of faces at the position last season. He also averaged 11.3 points and 7.1 assists, matching his career average with just 1.7 turnovers an outing while splitting time in Toronto and Detroit.
Calderon is expected to share the backcourt with fellow new addition Monta Ellis, who will also have a chip on his shoulder to prove that he is one of the game’s best shooting guards after seeing his production drop during a short stint in Milwaukee.
Looking to replace the departing O.J. Mayo, the Mavs’ second-leading scorer from a season ago at 15.3 points a game, Ellis hopes to elaborate on six straight seasons of averaging at least 19 points an outing. He’ll also try to give Nowitzki a reliable sidekick, looking to rekindle the offensive success that saw him average a career-high 25.5 points in 64 appearances for Golden State during the ’09-10 campaign.
But will the additions of Calderon, Ellis and center Samuel Dalembert to the first unit, coupled with the signings of Harris, swingman Wayne Ellington, big man DeJuan Blair and a trio of rookies be enough to help Nowitzki and returning veterans Shawn Marion, Vince Carter and Brandan Wright get the Mavs back to the postseason? That remains to be seen, but that’s certainly what the boys in blue believe will be the case.