Only two contributors remain from the 2010-11 title roster, but the Mavericks’ mission remains the same.
“This is Dallas,” coach Rick Carlisle said at the Mavs’ pep rally/press conference earlier this month. “We play for championships here. It’s as simple as that.”
That’s admirable. However, based on how Dallas’ talent compares to other contenders, it will take a miraculous run for the Mavs to accomplish their goal.
For the sake of discussion, let’s use ESPN.com’s #NBArank to see how the Mavs measure up. It’s a subjective system, but it at least indicates how teams fall in terms of depth and tiers of talent. (The Mavs’ individual rankings can be found here.)
There are 15 teams that have two top-50 players. The Mavs aren’t one of them, with No. 11 Dirk Nowitzki all alone.
The Lakers and Thunder, the teams expected to meet in the West finals, lead the NBA with four top-50 selections. L.A. and OKC both have two top-10 players – joining the defending champion Heat on that exclusive list – and the Lakers are the lone team with four in the top 20.
There are another six teams with three top-50 players: the Bulls, Celtics, Grizzlies, Heat, Knicks and Spurs. (New York big man Tyson Chandler checked in at No. 23, in case MFFLs were wondering.)
The hope around the AAC is that depth will make up for the lack of a legitimate co-superstar to pair with Nowitzki.
The Maverick ranked next after Nowitzki is Elton Brand all the way down at No. 85, but they have a total of five top-100 players, with O.J. Mayo, Shawn Marion and Darren Collison joining Nowitzki and Brand. The Nuggets are the only team with more. There are five other teams with five top-100 players.
With No. 113 Chris Kaman in the mix, the Mavs have six top-150 players, a total that ties for seventh in the league.
The Mavs proved a lot of people wrong with their lone-star title run a couple of years ago. They’ll try to do it again against a handful of teams that have loaded up on elite talent.