Calling the Mavericks’ preseason anything but tumultuous would be a mischaracterization. Dallas’ integration of its new players has been far from seamless, and the injuries that the team has sustained haven't helped.
Dirk Nowitzki, the most important player on the roster, is sidelined with arthroscopic surgery on his knee. Injuries have also befallen Rodrigue Beaubois, Chris Kaman, and Brandan Wright.
Beaubois is back from his ankle sprain and is coming off the bench. Wright, who suffered a strained quad during training camp, came down awkwardly on his left foot, twisting his ankle in a preseason game against the Thunder. He left the game but the injury is not believed to be serious. He appears ready to play on opening night. Kaman’s return, however, is still up in the air.
These injuries certainly hampered the Mavericks’ attempts at cohesion, but the injuries to the big men have been specifically worrisome. The absence of Kaman, Nowitzki, and Wright has left Dallas on the wrong side of the rebounding statistic throughout the preseason. Dallas had a terrible rebounding margin of -6.88 during preseason play. Only the New York Knicks were worse.
Head Coach Rick Carlisle addressed his team’s rebounding woes, but nothing seemed to work. The lineups he put on the floor resembled the dreams of positional iconoclasts, but the team was not making up for their disadvantage on the boards in other areas (see: transition offense). Their penchant for turnovers, which Carlisle equated to as a best-selling sex manual for all the creative ways they find to give up the ball, did not help right the ship.
However, Dallas did limit their opponents to a combined 39.6 percent field goal shooting during the preseason, as well as posting 6.13 blocks per game.
But on-court successes didn’t stem the turmoil in the locker room. Instability on the team was furthered by the two suspensions of reserve guard Delonte West. The first one was short, just 21 hours. But the second one led to his release from the organization.
This entire chain of events led the team to acquire Eddy Curry off waivers to fill the void left by West and to try and alleviate their rebounding woes. Curry has had a rather maligned career. He has been mocked as the pork butt of many jokes. These stem from his perpetual conditioning problems and his love of food. His addition to the Mavericks is questionable at best.
However, Curry spent time with San Antonio during training camp and preseason before being released, where the staff and players lauded his efforts. He even played well, in spurts, as a starter against the Bobcats in the final preseason game -- totaling 11 points and seven rebounds. Yet, signing Curry only speaks to the troubles that Dallas has seen thus far.
Yet all these troubles, Nowitzki aside, pale in comparison to an event that took place against the Bobcats. For a brief period, it looked as though many of the Mavs' future hopes would be dashed.
Rookie Jae Crowder, who had a great preseason averaging 11.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.88 steals, went down in pain during the closing minutes of the game against Charlotte. Luckily, he appears to be fine and looks to play Tuesday against the Lakers, according to ESPN Dallas. Numbers don’t give justice to Crowder’s game. At present, he looks like one of the great steals of the draft.
It is easy to see Mavs fans have a degree of trepidation as the regular season approaches. Dallas is an incomplete team, plugging holes with pieces that are available.
Not all is lost, though. One must remember that this is a new team. There are eight players on the roster who weren’t there a season ago. It takes time and adjustments before the Mavs will resemble an organized unit.
Is Dallas’ situation ideal? No, but it certainly isn’t disastrous. Besides, it was only preseason.
Follow Doyle on Twitter at @thekobebeef.