Five Mavericks storylines to follow this season

Posted Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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1 What does Dirk Nowitzki have left in the tank?

Nowitzki said not to count him out, so don’t count him out. Two years ago, TNT analyst Charles Barkley counted Nowitzki out and he responded by collecting his 11th All-Star berth. Last year, knee surgery directly led to Nowitzki missing 29 games, but he declared he’s fit and ready to prove critics wrong again. With Nowitzki’s strong work habits and attention to detail, don’t be surprised if he’s in the running for another All-Star appearance.

2 Will the center position be the team’s Achilles’ heel?

The Mavericks truly believe they upgraded this position after adding Samuel Dalembert and DeJuan Blair to replace Chris Kaman and Elton Brand. The X factor, of course, is Brandan Wright, who is out indefinitely with a small non-displaced fracture of his left shoulder. Until Wright returns, Dalembert needs to stay out of foul trouble, Blair must use his strength to make up for his lack of height, and Bernard James needs to show some consistency.

3 Point guard play should be the strength of the team.

With Jose Calderon, Devin Harris and rookies Gal Mekel and Shane Larkin, the Mavericks arguably have more quality depth at point guard than at any other position. The only problem is Harris (toe) and Larkin (ankle) missed training camp and all eight preseason games after undergoing off-season surgery. Meanwhile, Calderon is one of the NBA’s smartest and most efficient players, and Mekel made marked improvements as the preseason went on.

4 Can the Mavericks make a playoff run?

This team has the talent to reach the playoffs, but they have to show consistency on the boards, keep their turnovers down and play tough defense. The Mavericks also must keep the game at a faster pace in order to increase their chances of winning. More than likely, the Mavericks will be battling for the sixth, seventh or eighth playoff spot. After that, they hope to catch lightning in a bottle like they did in 2011 when they won the title.

5 What type of impact will Monta Ellis have?

If things go the way the Mavericks plan, Ellis could become the steal of the off-season. Now 28, Ellis has averaged at least 19 points in six seasons and has played at least 34 minutes per game in seven seasons. Ellis is an underrated defender and can slither through the lane with cat-quick speed. He also is an underrated passer and has averaged more than five assists per game in four seasons.

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