The unknown can cause fear, but also excitement.

This time of year, the Mavericks have a bit of both.

They don’t know what kind of team they will have and that’s both stressful but full of opportunity.

They think they have improved over last season’s surprising run to the Western Conference finals.

But then, 14 other teams in the West think they are better, too.

“It’s always going to be like that at the beginning of the season,” Reggie Bullock said Wednesday after a full-blown scrimmage at American Airlines Center. “There’s going to be a lot of ups and downs throughout the season. It’s about what team can persevere through it.

“And I feel like overall, we have a group of guys that have one goal in mind. We just have to go out and protect each other. It starts in practice when we’ve all been competing.”

Perhaps the best part of training camp, if you ask players, is the lack of preseason games. The Mavericks have only three of them, the last of which is Friday in Utah.

While that means more practicing and listening to the coaches during endless drills, it also has given the Mavericks time to work on conditioning, which they learned the value of with their deep playoff run last season.

“We have a core that’s been together,” coach Jason Kidd said. “This is our second year if you’re talking about coaching staff and players. And we have some new pieces.

“Every season is different no matter how long you’ve been together. There’s always something that is different that you need to prove.”

Kidd cited Bullock as proof of that from last season.

“Reggie did a lot for us last year,” he said. “You look at the end of the season, he was running a lot of miles chasing the best offensive player on the opponent. The guys saw that the marathon is long if you get to May and June. If you’re lucky enough to get that far, and you still have a lot to give, you understand what it means to be in shape.”

In that regard, the Mavericks don’t have to worry about the fear of the unknown. After last season, they have a very keen awareness of what it’s like to make a deep playoff run.

At least that’s one variable they know they can handle. But getting to that point again is the trick.

Roster trimmed: The Mavericks waived four of their training-camp invitees after Wednesday’s practice.

Not among them was 6-foot guard McKinley Wright IV.

He has earned the 15th and final roster spot based on his play in preseason and through training camp.

Waived on Wednesday were Marcus Bingham Jr., Mouhamadou Gueye, Tyler Hall and D.J. Stewart Jr.

With the addition of Wright, the Mavericks now have 15 players under contract and two-way player Tyler Dorsey.

Kidd did not have to make roster moves until Monday, but made the decision on Wednesday as a courtesy to the players.

“In the past, it was just a little awkward to take everyone and then have a day off (after the last preseason game) and then cut guys,” Kidd said. “We’re just trying to be a little more sensitive to that situation. So we’ll make the cuts now.”

Shoot first, ask questions later: The Mavericks have fired up 88 3-pointers in the first two preseason games and the results have been good so far.

That’s a big change from a year ago.

“If you think about last year, we couldn’t shoot straight to start the season,” Kidd said. “Then, somewhere after All-Star break, we started shooting the ball straight. If we’re going to be a team that shoots a lot of threes, we have to learn from last year.”

Asked if the shooting in practice has been good, Kidd said: “Oh, yeah, they’re shooting the ball straight.”

Briefly: Kidd said newcomers Jaden Hardy and Christian Wood were the stars of the scrimmage, but added: “I thought the energy and effort were good. Some late-game stuff. We played three full quarters and everybody did a good job.” . . . Asked what the emphasis has been since the last preseason game and before the exhibition finale Friday at Utah, Kidd said: “Defense is always first that we talk about, and last. We have guys who can score, but being able to have everybody on the same page defensively is what we’re working at. And I think the guys are getting it done.” . . . Kidd said that everybody will travel to Utah on Thursday and that “We’ll go with our rotation and just see how that works, come back Sunday and practice. On the flight home, we’ll talk about the rotation. But we have 82 games to look at different combinations.”

Twitter: @ESefko

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