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We’ll take a look at all 30 teams in the next 30 days as they prepare for the 2017-2018 regular season, which is when the real fireworks begin! Today's team: The Dallas Mavericks.
When it comes to the Dallas Mavericks, everything essentially begins and ends with Dirk Nowitzki.
The future Hall of Famer is entering his 20th NBA season and still ranks among the tougher players to defend in the NBA.
But Father Time is gaining ground on the Nowitzki, 39, which is why the Mavericks have wisely added the kind of talent around him the past couple of years that should take some of the scoring burden off his shoulders and, just as important, put the Mavs back into contention for a playoff spot after failing to get there last season following a stretch of reaching the postseason 15 out of 16 years.
The Mavericks will look to bounce back from a 33-49 season, one in which injuries played a major factor in the team’s struggles.
Nowitzki appeared in just 54 games last season, averaging 14.2 points - the fewest he averaged since his rookie season (8.9 points).
Among the few Mavs to stay relatively healthy was Harrison Barnes, who led the team with 19.5 points per game average while appearing in 79 games.
Dallas had a solid season defensively and solidified their interior by trading for Nerlens Noel in February.
A restricted free agent this past summer, Noel and the Mavericks were unable to come to terms on a long-term contract. And without the benefit of an offer sheet, Noel had no leverage in getting the kind of near-max salary he was seeking.
So, he eventually signed a one-year, $4.1 million qualifying offer.
One of the main areas the Mavericks will look to improve upon this season is scoring after averaging a league-low 97.9 points per game.
Having better team health overall will help, as will the addition of high-scoring combo guard Dennis Smith Jr.
Selected by Dallas with the ninth overall pick in the NBA draft, the 6-foot-2 guard did a little bit of everything in his lone season with North Carolina State, where he averaged 18.1 points, 4.6 assists and 6.2 rebounds per game.
He was just as impressive in helping lead the Mavs to a 5-1 summer league record in Las Vegas, earning a spot on the NBA All-Summer League first team by averaging 17.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.2 steals per game.
Key free agent/draft/trade additions: Josh McRoberts (Miami); Jeff Withey (Utah).
Key losses: None.
Rookies of note: Dennis Smith Jr.
Expectations: 37-45 (third in the Southwest Division,10th in the West).