Jason Torquato begins our NBA preview of the Western Conference with a look at the Dallas Mavericks.
Placing last season: 36-30 (7th in Western Conference, Playoffs: First round exit)
Key moves: The Mavericks kicked off their offseason by drafting Tyler Zeller, who they promptly traded away for the trio of Jared Cunningham, Jae Crowder and Bernard James, all rookies.
The most significant activity was letting Lamar Odom and Jason Kidd go and then picking up Elton Brand and Chris Kaman on the free agent wire, who will beef up the front court after Brendan Haywood was waived.
Challenges ahead: The Mavericks failed to even come close to defending their NBA crown last season, putting in a tame performance in being swept by the Thunder in round one.
Whether they can push on again is debateable, especially with Nowitzki being a year older and little in the way of all-star calibre talent being brought in.
Reason to be positive: The fact that the Mavs were able to trade Zeller for three other rookies in the top 33 picks of this year’s draft definitely gives them hope going forward.
Should two of them prove to be good players then they should at least have a solid core to build around in the future.
Prediction: 46-36 (7th in Western Conference)
image: © Keith Allison