Roster Additions: G Wesley Matthews, C Zaza Pachulia, F Justin Anderson (No. 21 pick in 2015 NBA Draft), C Satnam Bhamara (No. 52 pick), G Deron Williams, F Brandon Ashley, C Samuel Dalembert, F Jeremy Evans, C JaVale McGee
Roster Subtractions: G Monta Ellis, G Rajon Rondo, F Greg Smith, C Tyson Chandler, C Amar'e Stoudemire, F Brandon Wright, F Richard Jefferson, G Ricky Ledo, F Bernard James
2014-15 Recap: Last season was dominance as usual for the Dallas Mavericks. The high scoring starting lineup fired the team out to a fast start, winning 15 of its first 20 games. A deal in December snared Rajon Rondo from the Boston Celtics, and his arrival boosted the team for a moment. The team reached a season-high 19 games over .500 in February, but the wheels starting coming off in March and April when team chemistry fell apart. Rondo was suspended a game for arguing with coach Rick Carlisle, and the team went 7-7 over its last 14 games before the playoffs. Rondo did not play in their first round series versus the Houston Rockets, and the Mavericks were vanquished in five games.
2015-16 Offseason: One of the strangest offseasons in recent memory came about this year. Dallas's roster had been built to go for broke last season, and suddenly the Mavericks found themselves without several key contributors. Now gone was leading scorer Ellis, and virtually the entire depth chart at the big man positions. Ellis was replaced by Williams, a pariah in Brooklyn. Wesley Matthews came in from Portland, but the dependable "Iron Man" was coming off an Achilles tear. Dallas put its hopes in Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, snaring him and allowing Tyson Chandler to walk to Phoenix. The issue was, Jordan was waffling on the contract. One bizarre series of events later, involving phone calls that did or did not happen, and a plane trip from Chris Paul, and Jordan canceled his deal with Dallas. With a sudden void erupting at center in Dallas, the Mavericks settled for JaVale McGee. In the draft, Dallas got a superb defensive prospect in Justin Anderson, and drafted Satnam Singh Bhamara in the second round, making him the first player drafted from India.
Projected Starting Lineup: Williams, Devin Harris, Chandler Parsons, Dirk Nowitzki, McGee
2015-16 Outlook: This is a roster that has taken a step back in a loaded Western Conference. Williams will need to recover his form from his early days in Utah in order for Dallas to stand a chance. Harris is a solid bench player, and the Mavericks will benefit from Matthews once he is cleared to play, but Harris is a stop-gap measure at this point. Parsons saw his numbers drop in all areas in his first year with Dallas, and his season ended early with a knee injury. Nowitzki is still a world-class player, but he is also 37 years old. His shot will be as true as it ever was, and he will keep Dallas competitive to the very end. McGee is a feast or famine type player, and a severe downgrade from both Chandler and Jordan. It is safe to say the home crowd will be hostile to the Los Angeles Clippers when they visit on November 11. Outside the starting lineup, the team has some level of depth all over the court, but lacks that go-to scorer that can change a game in a heartbeat.
Final Prediction: Dallas plays in the most competitive division in all of the NBA in the Southwest. San Antonio, Houston, Memphis and New Orleans have all improved. Dallas has not, and could find itself in the water surrounded by sharks. Mark Cuban has never been shy about making big moves to try and boost his team, and he will need one if Dallas expects to get far. 43-39, No. 5 in Southwest Division.