Outlook: Nowitzki is coming off another stellar regular season (25.0 ppg, 7.7 rpg) in which he was again required to carry the team offensively. After opting out of the final year of his contract and then re-signing in early July for four more years at a discounted rate of $80 million, Nowitzki won't have the help of a superstar as he had hoped to share the burden. Instead, he remains optimistic that Roddy Beaubois can step up. Otherwise, Nowitzki, by re-signing, has agreed to be patient and wait for a trade opportunity to present itself. As for the position, Nowitzki is the lone true power forward on the roster. The Mavs lost out on free agents Udonis Haslem and Al Harrington, and when they traded Eduardo Najera to Charlotte in the deal that netted center Tyson Chandler, Dallas got rid of its one down-and-dirty, blue-collar worker on the front line. The Mavs will rely on small forward Shawn Marion and the 7-foot-1 Chandler to handle some backup duty as coach Rick Carlisle looks to reduce Nowitzki's minutes, which climbed to 37.5 per game last season. Dallas is reportedly interested in signing Tim Thomas, who played 18 games for the Mavs last season before leaving the team to care for his ill wife.
Most likely to step up: Nowitzki decided not to play for Germany in the FIBA World Championships later this month, a move that surely pleased owner Mark Cuban. Nowitzki said he felt much fresher at the start of last season after not playing for Germany a year ago, so he's primed for another fast start.
Most likely to step back: With no other true power forward on the roster at the moment, this category is not applicable.