NBA Preview: Dallas Mavericks

Editor’s note: This is the 16th of Sam Amico’s look at all 30 NBA teams heading into the 2013-14 season.

Coach: Rick Carlisle (12th NBA season, 530-366)

Last season: 41-41, did not make playoffs.

Projected starters: C Samuel Dalembert; PF Dirk Nowitzki; SF Shawn Marion; SG Monta Ellis; PG Jose Calderon.

Key reserves: SF Vince Carter; SG Wayne Ellington; PG Devin Harris; PF Brandan Wright; PG Shane Larkin (r); SG Ricky Ledo (r); SF Jae Crowder; C Bernard James; PF DeJuan Blair.

New faces: Dalembert, Ellis, Calderon, Ellington, Harris, Larkin, Blair, Ledo, G Gal Mekel (r).

Scouting the Mavericks

Average isn’t good enough for Mark Cuban’s team, so not surprisingly, the Mavs brought in nine new faces following a .500 season. … Of those nine, three (Dalembert, Calderon and Ellis) are likely to be immediate starters. … Just as importantly as that is the fact Nowitzki is starting the season in good health. …

Nowitzki isn’t the player he once was, but he’s still an All-Star who can stretch the floor and score inside. Read: He still does a lot of things very well and he’s still this team’s most dangerous player and top option. …

Ellis is a scorer in every sense of the word, and it will be interesting to see how a volume scorer who needs the ball fits in next to Nowtizki. … It never really worked with O.J. Mayo last season, but Ellis is better than Mayo. Unlike Mayo, Ellis can be counted on for an entire game. …

Calderon likely only needed a chance of scenery from Toronto/Detroit. If runs the team as he did with the Pistons, the Mavs could make a quick rise. … However, Calderon has never been known for his consistency and can be a little soft. …

Dalembert could be an ideal center for this group. He blocks shots and rebounds, and never demands the ball. … But questions about how seriously he takes the game remain. …On the bright side, Nowitzki has a tendency to call out teammates, which could force Dalembert to give an honest effort. …

Marion and Carter have learned to play beneath the rim, which is a new idea for the one-time high-flyers. … Together, they make one pretty good small forward. …

Neither Calderon nor Ellis nor Ellington is good defensively, which will cause headaches for Carlisle. … But Carlisle is a no-nonsense coach who tends to get the most from his teams. He also has the respect of Nowitzki, and having the ear of your star can carry you a long way. …

Carlisle won’t be afraid to play Larkin and Ledo if the vets are worried about shots or need a reminder that defense is vital. …

Overall, the Mavs seem at least slightly improved. But can they make a playoff run in a Western Conference that’s once again stacked?

Prediction: 45-37.

FOX Sports: Mavericks home

Twitter: @SamAmicoFSO