With my sudden Mavericks fandom still shy of the 48-hour mark, I can already say I’ve done my homework on the 2015-16 edition of this team. As I said yesterday, I had been hoping that whatever cosmic forces were involved in choosing me a team, be it chance, fate, or the will of the basketball gods, would provide me with a young club still wet behind its ears, but the Mavericks are old, so very old. I like to see myself as the kind of person who can find the charm in anything, however, and I truly believe this Dallas team has some interesting players on it, even if many of them are grizzled veterans who probably helped Dr. James Naismith set up the first peach basket.
What I’ve already come to appreciate about basketball in my recent return to it is how much a roster’s composition can change over the course of one offseason. With a 13-player active roster, it doesn’t take much to drastically reinvent a team’s look practically overnight, something that couldn’t be farther from the truth in baseball, the sport I’ve spent the last more-than-15 years obsessing over.
Of the 15 players the Mavericks currently have on the roster going into the new season, eight of them have yet to appear in a regular season game for the organization, two being rookies who haven’t seen regular season action with any organization at all. After closely analyzing every player on the roster and trying to learn as much as I could in such a short time period, I wanted to mention the three debuts I’m most excited about in the hours before the first game the Mavericks have ever played with me as an adoring fan.
Okay, so he isn’t particularly youthful for an NBA point guard at 31, and even someone with as little knowledge as I have can conclude it’s incredibly unlikely Williams will ever again put up the kind of numbers he did when he was a phenom on the Jazz. That said, he just seems like he has too much left to offer to have been forcibly ejected from the Nets’ roster at such a cost to the team, and it’s not a stretch to think this version of Williams can still be a useful guide to an offense, particularly for a fraction of the money he made in his peak. Yes, his shooting was atrocious a season ago, but that’s not necessarily a trend yet. If that improves and he maintains what seems to be an excellent ability to create scoring opportunities for teammates, I’m really going to enjoy watching the Mavericks version of Deron Williams.
He’s logged barely any minutes over the last two seasons, but consider me in the intrigued camp when it comes to JaVale McGee. From what little I’ve read about the guy, no one’s expecting much from him health-wise, and he certainly won’t be appearing in tonight’s opener, but how can anyone resist an athletic 7-footer with prodigious shot-blocking ability? McGee’s numbers when he first entered the league with the Wizards were nothing if not respectable, and I’m not quite able to separate myself from the hope that overcoming years of injury issues could mean big things, especially considering he’s just 27 and still capable of being better than he’s ever been.
I love rookies. One thing I’m extremely excited about experiencing as a born-again NBA fan is the draft, which is an intoxicating experience even in baseball, but the impacts are almost never immediate in that sport, and even a player who pans out perfectly can’t make much of a difference by himself. This isn’t the case in the NBA, and while Justin Anderson doesn’t seem to be anyone’s idea of a difference maker, I think all Mavericks fans are excited to see what contributions last year’s 21st overall pick will make for the team. Listed at 6-foot-6 and 228 pounds, Anderson has a good blend of speed and strength, and the team hopes he can develop into a defensive wrecking ball of sorts. I’m not sure what kind of offense he’s going to provide, but the athleticism is there, and I’m going to be rooting for him to give opponents fits on the defensive end all season long.