DALLAS — Ninety-four feet. It’s the full length of an NBA court. And if the Dallas Mavericks have their way this upcoming season, it will be the full distance their defense will cover on a nightly basis.
Taking the court with plenty of depth in the backcourt, the Mavericks hope to use their quickness and agility to their advantage this season. The Mavs also intend to make defense their calling card after ranking near the bottom of the league in several defensive categories last season. And with five point guards on the roster, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle can see the team’s perimeter players picking up opposing teams for the full length of the court to increase the defensive intensity.
“Well, we’ll make the defensive game their style of game, which means use your quickness 94 feet and make it a 94-foot game on defense, instead of making it a half-court game where a size disadvantage can become a problem,” Carlisle explained. “Quickness is such an important part of today’s game. I don’t worry that much about mismatches in the post and things like that. I mean, those things are arduous and they take time, and generally they don’t produce that much. But if you’re quick and you have the ability to cover ground, then get up and make this a 94-foot problem for the offensive guards. That’s the thing we’re asking these guys.
“We’re going to have the option (to press full court), you know, with our depth at the perimeter positions. And look, these guys are some of our better players, so we’ve got to keep them playing. We’ve got to keep them on the floor.”
Last season, the Dallas squad showed that it could get back in transition after miscues at the offensive end of the floor, surrendering the fourth-fewest baskets off of giveaways while allowing 14.0 points a game following turnovers. The Dallas defense also ranked fifth while allowing just 11.6 second-chance points a game inside. And after allowing just 39.5 points in the paint per game to rank third in that department, the Mavericks will attempt to elevate their perimeter defense by implementing a full-court press.
The Mavericks allowed 13.6 fast-break points per outing to rank 17th in the league last season. The Mavs forced just 7.5 steals per game as well, ranking 19th in the NBA in that category. However, with the addition of first-round draft pick Dennis Smith Jr. to the backcourt and 23-year-old center Nerlens Noel anchoring the interior, the Mavericks expect to see more success at the defensive end of the floor. And after the Mavs ranked 22nd in the league with a defensive rating of 106.3, the team sees a full-court press as the key to a turnaround on that side of the ball.
“It’s going to help a lot. A lot of times people don’t want to press full, ’cause they might get tired and want to come out of the game. But we’ve got so many good guards, we’ll be able to give it 100 percent every single play,” Smith proclaimed.
“You know, I think it’s going to open a lot of things up, especially for me to be able to show my defensive abilities,” Noel added. “When they’re up pressing, those guards are not going to be able to go right by them and get a clear lane to the rim. So, you know, it’s giving your guys that comfortability to be able to scramble things up.”