Offense bound to change, but will scoring increase?
For starters, coach Rick Carlisle took back the keys to the offense when point guard Jason Kidd -- who has played 11 more seasons and has 9,902 more assists than the new Dallas Mavericks backcourt tandem of Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo -- walked out the door.
Then there's the addition of a 7-foot, low-post scoring threat in center Chris Kaman, and the solid mid-range game of power forward Elton Brand presumably off the bench. Neither player will win any foot races -- unless maybe they're racing Dirk Nowitzki -- so it figures that an offense that Kidd looked to push up the floor will take on a more methodical approach with Carlisle's fingers waving play calls in the air.
Collison has already expressed excitement about continuing the Mavs' pick-and-roll legacy with Nowitzki, and the offense figures to add an inside-out dimension that ultimately might not be too dissimilar from Collison's days playing with David West and Roy Hibbert with the Indiana Pacers, and Mayo's time with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph with the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Mavs, Grizzlies and Pacers all shared some similarities last season. All three finished in the top 10 in defensive efficiency, according to Hoopdata.com. Yet, perhaps not as expected was the similarity in the statistic of pace, or the average number of possessions in a game. All three teams finished tied in the bottom half of the league at 93.5 possessions per game.
Indiana was the best of the three in offensive efficiency, ranking eighth in the league at 103.5 points per 100 possessions. Memphis and Dallas, which struggled all season to score, ranked 20th and 21st, respectively.
On paper, the Mavs' new lineup, which presumably features Collison and Mayo in the backcourt with Shawn Marion, Nowitzki and Kaman filling out the front court, have increased their firepower. Last season, Dallas' starting lineup included two virtual non-scoring threats in Kidd and center Brendan Haywood. Marion averaged just 10.6 points and neither starting shooting guard, Vince Carter and Delonte West, averaged more than 10.1 points.
Other than Nowitzki (21.6 ppg), no Mavs starter last season averaged more than Marion, and Marion's points came largely on slashes to the bucket and offensive rebounds. Dallas' starting five averaged just 53.7 points a game (and slightly less with West as the starter).
The projected starting five for next season stands to feature three new faces and, on paper, will yield more scoring threats.
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