Updated: Oct. 27, 2006, 12:09 PM ET

SPECIAL PREVIEW EDITION
Let's try that again

Mavericks

Team Page | Schedule | Roster | Hollinger Stats

Where will the Dallas Mavericks finish in the Southwest Division and the Western Conference? Get 10 takes from ESPN's NBA experts.

ANALYST COMMENT
Marc
Stein
ESPN.com
This could be the first season in franchise history in which the Mavs post the West's best record. But that'll be easier than burying their Finals ghosts and outlasting San Antonio and Phoenix to get back there.
DIVISION RANK: 1 | CONFERENCE RANK: 1
Chris
Sheridan

ESPN.com
They overpaid Jason Terry and underpaid Josh Howard, and the acquisition of Anthony Johnson will be a lot more important than many might imagine. The big question: How long does their mental hangover from their Finals collapse linger?
DIVISION RANK: 2 | CONFERENCE RANK: 2
Jim
O'Brien

ESPN.com
The Mavericks were so close but could not finish. On paper, they are better with the addition of Greg Buckner and Anthony Johnson. Why? Both make the Mavs a little tougher at the defensive end.
DIVISION RANK: 2 | CONFERENCE RANK: 2
Tim
Legler

ESPN.com
Add experienced guys to a 60-win team with a superstar like Dirk Nowitzki and a big-time coach, and it's a safe bet to expect another run at a title. Dallas just has to be tougher mentally when it matters, and the trophy is within reach.
DIVISION RANK: 1 | CONFERENCE RANK: 2
Scoop
Jackson

ESPN.com
After being cheated -- excuse me, ref'd -- out of an NBA ring, Mark Cuban and Avery Johnson will have the Mavs with an "us against the world" mentality. But can they control that anger for 100 games?
DIVISION RANK: 2 | CONFERENCE RANK: 3
John
Hollinger

ESPN.com
Was last year their best shot? It will be tough getting out of the loaded West again, but the Mavs have depth to withstand regular-season grind, a breakout candidate in speedster Devin Harris and a matchup nightmare with Dirk Nowitzki.
DIVISION RANK: 2 | CONFERENCE RANK: 2
Chad
Ford

ESPN.com
The Mavs remain a potent offensive team and now have some street cred on the defensive end as well. If Josh Howard and Devin Harris continue to develop, they might just win it all this season.
DIVISION RANK: 1 | CONFERENCE RANK: 2
Ric
Bucher

ESPN Mag
All the talk about learning a lesson and being fired up after handing the trophy to Miami sounds good. But the basketball gods don't look favorably upon teams that are frivolous with Finals' appearances. As the Mavs are about to find out.
DIVISION RANK: 2 | CONFERENCE RANK: 2
Chris
Broussard

ESPN Mag
The Mavs will be hardened by last year's devastating Finals loss. The problem is, the Spurs will be hardened too, setting up a major showdown/rematch in the West finals that will redeem the Spurs.
DIVISION RANK: 2 | CONFERENCE RANK: 2
Greg
Anthony

ESPN.com
Dirk is the leader of the team. But in order for them to win a championship, Josh Howard has to be their best all-around player. Adding Greg Buckner, Austin Croshere and Anthony Johnson were steps in the right direction to finally hoist the trophy come June.
DIVISION RANK: 1 | CONFERENCE RANK: 1
 
Average ranks

DIVISION: 1.6 | Standings
CONFERENCE: 1.9 | Standings


Face The Pressure
Johnson
Lynne Sladky/AP Photo
With a five-year, $20 million contract in hand, Coach of the Year Avery Johnson's high profile and expectations have been raised further in the chase for a championship.


Lineup Breakdown

STARTERS ANALYSIS
Devin Harris
Point Guard
6-3 | 185
Yes, he's quick. That just means he's first to run down his own bricks.
Jason Terry
Shooting Guard
6-2 | 180
Leadership may be as valuable as jumper.
Josh Howard
Small Forward
6-7 | 210
Uber role player justly rewarded: four years, $40 million.
Dirk Nowitzki
Power Forward
7-0 | 245
What do you remember, the career year or the Finals flop?
Erick Dampier
Center
6-11 | 265
Still fending off DeSagana Diop -- which now counts for something.
Bench: Jerry Stackhouse ramps up O, Diop digs in on D. But mishmash of wings (Greg Buckner, Maurice Ager, Devean George) throws rotation into flux.

ESPN The Magazine's NBA Preview hits newsstands October 25.



Hollinger's Player Spotlight
Devin Harris
Player efficiency rating
projection: 18.47
vs. NBA avg.: +3.47
Mavericks profiles

Scouting report: Harris has blinding quickness off the dribble reminiscent of Kevin Johnson, and seems able to get to the basket at will. He needs to get better at finishing once he's there, however, as he had a penchant for blowing layups.

His shooting also seemed to take a step backward last season. Harris shot fairly well on 3-pointers as a collegian and wasn't too bad from the longer NBA distance as a rookie, but completely discarded that part of his game last season. He rarely attempted a 3 and made them even less, and his free-throw mark also dipped. He'll need to work on his shooting to rise among the elite at the point, as defenses will pack it in and play him solely for the drive.

Harris has good quickness and at 6-3 can defend shooting guards in a pinch, but he's much better off at the point. From that spot he can use his outstanding quickness to hound dribblers and get steals and deflections. However, he often plays the shooting guard spot in a two-guard alignment with Jason Terry, leaving one of them with an unpalatable matchup at the other end.

2006-07 outlook: Harris is one of the best young point guards in the game and should only get better this coming season. His path to the starting point guard job is blocked by Jason Terry, however, so he won't see an increase in minutes unless the Mavs opt to play small and start both of them in the backcourt. Dallas used that alignment plenty in the postseason, but the additions of Greg Buckner, Anthony Johnson and rookie Maurice Ager may point to a more traditional alignment this coming season, which would limit Harris to 15-20 minutes as Terry's backup. Nonetheless, if Harris comes back from the summer with an improved jumper he could force the Mavs' hand.


Board Man Of Metroplex
Dampier
Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images
Despite mixed results in his Dallas tenure, Erick Dampier is the NBA's best offensive rebounder. He grabbed the carom on 17.4 percent of missed shots, tops in the game.


SportsNation Speaks
Dallas fans evaluate one divisive aspect of the most vocal owner in sports.

Does Mark Cuban's behavior toward the officials help or hurt the Mavs?
60.3% Hurts -- distracts players, annoys officials
39.7% Helps -- inspires players, influences officials

Vote: Mavs in 2006-07



Ask A Blogger
Mavs

What would it take for you to get a tattoo of the Mavericks' logo on your chest?

As a fan through the horrible Mavericks teams of the '90s, it seemed like I would never have the chance to speak of championships.

Fortunately things have changed; despite rooting for a franchise that has never won the title, Mavericks fans like me are now expecting one.

I suppose the cliché answer would be to say that getting that first O'Brien trophy is all it would take, but since there is a very realistic chance of that happening and I hate needles, I'll need to come up with something else.

Cuban, if you're reading, get me some courtside season tickets and my chest is yours.

Wes Cox | MavsMoneyball.com



Coach's Corner

AVERY JOHNSON COACHING FILE
Experience: 2 years
Record: 76-24
Playoffs: 20-16
NBA titles: 0
Coach's profile

Coach Avery Johnson gets to have his cake and eat it too. He retained his core guys and added five new faces who should contribute.

Johnson will need to get these new faces up to speed on how Dallas operates while continuing to feed his big guns. He may also add some wrinkles to the offense in the hopes of generating easier baskets -- the Mavs finished 29th in assists last season -- and not having to rely so much on Dirk, which hurt them in the Finals.

David Thorpe, ESPN.com NBA analyst



Hollinger's Team Strength
The bench. One reason Dallas was able to continually frustrate San Antonio and Phoenix in the playoffs was that they could match up so many different ways. Don Nelson was awesome at this, and thankfully Johnson has retained most of his mentor's tricks in this regard.

The Mavs can go small with a backcourt of Harris and Terry, like they did to run San Antonio ragged.

They can put Croshere and Nowitzki in the frontcourt together and force opposing big men out to the 3-point line.

They can play Buckner and Howard on the wings if they need defense, or Ager and Terry in the backcourt if they need shooting, or Nowitzki at center with Howard and Stackhouse as the forwards if they really want to run people ragged.

As for opponents' matchup tricks, Dallas is covered against virtually anything. Most teams have all kinds of problems matching up against the Suns because of their bizarre personnel, but the Mavs didn't have much trouble at all.

In a roundabout way, that was why Miami left Dallas so befuddled -- the Heat were a fairly by-the-book team in terms of their lineup and matchups, so there weren't as many wrinkles the Mavs could use to knock them off balance.

More Hollinger Mavericks analysis Insider



Fantasy Fix
Howard
Howard

Sleeper: If any Dallas player has shown signs of a possible breakout in '06-07, it's Josh Howard. He has become more aggressive at the offensive end in each of his three seasons and is easily the best frontcourt option aside from Dirk Nowitzki.

Bust: Sure, Jerry Stackhouse is one of the top sixth men in the league. But that doesn't mean you should want him on your team. He doesn't score like he used to, his opportunities are fewer, he's never shot the ball well and his only strong category is free-throw shooting. Avoid the name recognition and draft someone else.

Keith Lipscomb | Fantasy Hoops Index

 

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