Will the Real Harrison Barnes Please Stand Up

New Faces: Harrison Barnes, Ketth Hornsby, Jameel Warney, Kyle Collinsworth, Quincy Acy, Jonathon  Gibson, Nicolas Brussino, Seth Curry, Dorain Finney-Smith, A.J. Hammons (R), Andrew Bogut

2015-16 Regular Season Record: 42-40

2015-16 Regular Season Achievements: 2nd: Turnovers. 3rd: Free Throw Percentage. 9th: Defensive Rebounds, 3-Point Percentage (Defense).

Leading Scorer: Dirk Nowitzki, 18.3

Leading Rebounder: Zaza Paculia, 9.4

When a 37 year old is the leading scorer, even if he is a Hall of Famer, this is not a team that’s going to do much in the playoffs. The Mavericks simply had to get younger. They were an old team. Preferably they would add young legs and offensive skill to the back court. But that didn’t happen. They did get younger in the front court, adding Harrison Barnes, giving him a max deal after he came off a disastrous NBA Finals. Barnes is an interesting player. He’s athletic. He can defend four positions. He’s an efficient shot maker. He adapts to the team culture. He fit in well being the third option on the Warriors. He’s not a me player. But those NBA Finals.  Ouch. Barnes was just awful and that wasn’t the worst part. Barnes lost confidence. His bad performances affected his psyche. He looked like a shell of himself. He needed a change of scenery and Dallas is it.

He gives the Mavs offense, defense and skill. Barnes hasn’t reached anything close to his potential. No longer is he the third option and Barnes will be able to showcase his versatility in an offense that doesn’t forget he exists. A 20 point year isn’t out of the question for Barnes.

The Mavs also added Andrew Bogut. Bogut is  a fiesty defender who can guard pick and roll, make shots, block shots and he plays with a nasty chip that is infectious. Bogut was the number one pick once upon a time but injuries have slowed him down so don’t expect him to play all 82. But he’s a mobile center who adapts well to the modern NBA.

As for the familiar subjects. Wesley Matthews had an off year, shooting 38.8% but he was recovering from Achilles surgery. His reputation lies more on the defensive end. Fully recovered, we’ll see if he lost anything because of the injury. Matthews is not much of a ball creator or a rim finisher.

The Mavs biggest weakness is point guard. They trot out Deron Williams again and Williams is serviceable but he doesn’t have the athleticism to be able to hang with Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, Russ Westbrook.   He can still score some and move the ball but the lateral quickness is a thing of the past. The Mavs backcourt is their one weakness, not much speed even though they added Seth Curry. Like his MVP brother, Curry can shoot. But he doesn’t have the quickness to create space and defenders can put the ball on the floor and waltz by him.

Luckily for Dallas, Deron Williams regained his confidence last season. But he couldn’t stay healthy, a theme of the past five Williams years. His game has changed too. He scores but not in the same driving, posting up smaller guards, finishing at the rim way of his past. Last season, his three point game was off and on.  He did prove something by coming back to his hometown Dallas with little to no pressure. But as comfortable as Dallas was for Williams, this isn’t a playoff roster.  Unless things change.

The Mavs were one of the slowest teams in the league which makes sense because of their age. They couldn’t shoot, 20th in field goal percentage. They couldn’t make threes, 23rd in 3-point percentage. They didn’t get to the line, 21st in free throw attempts. They were ridiculously morose on the offensive glass, 26th. There’s no explosion in the front court, 29th in blocks.  They moved the ball periodically, 18th in assists. They had no quickness on the perimeter, 26th in steals. The Mavs didn’t have a dominant scorer, a 20 point guy.

That’s where Harrison Barnes is supposed to change things. His athleticism will quicken the pace. Andrew Bogut will block shots. But the Mavs still haven’t addressed backcourt issues and the lack of speed. They didn’t address their 3-point efficiency. Still. They are a better defensive team than they were last year and their offense should be slightly better. They are not a contender but they have a player in Barnes the rest of the league has to worry about.

The Mavs have their own version of Hell Week to start the season. They play at Indiana and then Mike D’Antoni’s fast pace offense comes to town for a home and away series. The Mavs go to Utah to play the improved and much younger Jazz. Then Damian Lillard comes in as does Jason Kidd’s bunch highlighted by the Greek Freak. Two games later, it is the Warriors and the “Dream Team” followed by the Knicks, Girzzlies and Celtics. To add insult to injury, the Mavs end the month playing the Spurs. Ouch.

Prediction: 45-37

photo via llananba