Transition year, Part II, begins with quantity in place of star quality. Last season, Dallas broke up its 2011 championship team in anticipation of a big-spending summer of 2012 (more precisely, it hoped to lasso Dwight Howard and Deron Williams, taking the pricey but much simpler “super team” approach). Instead, the Mavericks round up a bunch of new faces, familiar to NBA fans but faced with the challenge of becoming a cohesive team.
From Darren Collison at the point and an underachieving (some would say underutilized) shooting guard next to him to a pair of veteran bigs with strong offensive skills, the basketball will be in a bunch of new hands again for Dallas. A three-day start on most of the other teams and the bonding on their Euro trip in October should come in handy.
Guy on the spot as camp begins: O.J. Mayo. Mayo is considered a good addition for Dallas, which failed in its pursuit of Williams and lost out on shots at Howard, Steve Nash and, as it turned out, Jason Kidd and Jason Terry. Thing is, Mayo would like to think he’s a great addition, not merely good, but his time for being thought of that way either has passed or soon will. He’ll want to show he’s that sidekick candidate for Dirk Nowitzki, though the Mavs will be happy if Mayo can pick up Terry’s production.
What the Mavs need to work on: Low-post offense. The ability to plant in the paint and actually get points from doing so hasn’t been a staple of Dallas’ attack. But with Chris Kaman and Elton Brand aboard, the Mavericks have a couple of professionals setting up shop down low. Now it has to find a balance between Nowitzki’s marksmanship, Mayo’s shot creating and the pace and patience of serving Brand and Kaman.
Who could surprise: Dominique Jones. The 6-foot-4 guard has been killing it this offseason, from his work at the Las Vegas summer league (16.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 5.0 apg) to his play in pickup action this month. Heading into his third season after meager looks the past two years (51 appearances, 7.9 minutes per), the 25th pick in the 2010 draft actually has been pretty close to those Vegas numbers, if pro-rated to 36 minutes: 11.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.4 assists. But the heck with pro-rating; Jones wants those minutes for real.