NBA Handicapping: are the Dallas Mavericks an Elite Contender?
by George Monroy - 1/9/2015
When the Dallas Mavericks took the eventual NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs to seven games during the first round of last year's playoffs, most experts believed the team's success to be an aberration based on a favorable style matchup and not a larger indicator that Dallas was ready to contend for an NBA title once again.
Heading into the 2015 season, the Mavericks established themselves as a quiet contender through a combination of system basketball, excellent coaching and the reacquisition of Tyson Chandler during the offseason. However, it was the Rajon Rondo trade in early December that stirred up talk about the Mavericks possibly winning another title.
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Let's take a closer look at Dallas and figure out if the team is truly an elite contender or just another squad with overstated title aspirations.
2015 Dallas Mavericks NBA Title Odds
Dallas is currently sitting in the fourth spot in the Western Conference playoff race and continues chase a top seed with only 11 losses so far. The squad is on pace to win 57 games, which would probably be good enough for a second or third seed in the conference playoff bracket and home court for a round or two.
Entering the season the Mavericks were receiving +1000 Western Conference title odds, but with the team's solid start and savvy Rondo trade, that number decreased to +600, which is now the third best in the conference. Dallas' 2015 title odds, however, had the sharpest move, changing from +2500 to only +1000 at Sportsbook.ag.
Dallas, in the minds of the oddsmakers, is currently an elite title contender even if its record does not indicate it just yet. The squad is currently tied for the ninth best record in the entire NBA yet is still receiving the sixth-best title odds. The gap between Dallas' current record and its title odds comes from the fact that the oddsmakers seem to have faith in the team's ability to make a deep playoff run based on its coaching and offensive system already in place.
Dallas' Efficient Scoring and Overall System
The Mavericks are currently the highest-scoring team in the NBA with an average of 109 points per game while also boasting one of the best 3-point differentials in the league. Those two stats continue to be the driving force behind the team's 2014-15 title aspirations. The NBA is no longer an isolation setting, mid-range, jump-shooting league that fans witnessed in the mid-90s and through most of the last decade.
Advanced stats and metrics have shown that post play and 3-point shooting are the most efficient and high-yield shots in the game. Yet, only a few teams have mastered that style, which was put into effect by Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs over the last few seasons.
Dallas, along with a handful of other teams, has the personnel and talent to play system basketball that relies the 3-ball and solid post play. NBA season is still young, and the Mavericks still have to face a brutal Western Conference schedule to close out the season, but the team has all the tools in place to end the year on the short list of elite title contenders.
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Read more articles by George Monroy
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