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Upcoming 2011-12 NBA Preview: Southwest Division

WESTERN CONFERENCE – SOUTHWEST

DALLAS MAVERICKS

Last Season: 57-25, Division Champions, 3rd Overall in West, NBA Champions

Key Losses:  J.J. Barea, Caron Butler, Tyson Chandler, Corey Brewer, Rudy Fernandez, DeShawn Stevenson, Peja Stojakovic (retired)

Key Additions:  Lamar Odom, Vince Carter, Delonte West, Andy Rautins, Brandon Wright, Brian Cardinal (resigned)

Main RotationStarters – Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki, Brendan Haywood; Key Reserves – Jason Terry, Lamar Odom, Delonte West, Rodrigue Beaubois, Brandon Wright, Brian Cardinal, Ian Mahinmi

The defending NBA Champions felt a huge blow this offseason as they’re defensive presence, Tyson Chandler, decided to sign with the New York Knicks.  Dallas would not have won the championship without Chandler.  He was the one that put this team over the top.  In addition, the Mavs also lost fan favorite J.J. Barea, DeShawn Stevenson, and Peja Stojakovic.  Barea was Dallas’ best player at breaking down the defenses.  The Mavs lost a lot in terms of defense but in regards to offense they are much improved with additions of Lamar Odom, Vince Carter, and Delonte West.  Odom will not be that enforcer that Chandler was though but if he can bring the sixth man attitude he played with in L.A., then Dallas should be just fine.  He’s still a near 7 footer, who overall, is more skilled than Chandler.  Vince Carter and Delonte West are solid replacements as well, especially West who is a bigger, stronger back up point than Barea was.

Brendan Haywood will be very important to this team.  Manning the middle, he is going to have to bring at least a shot-blocking presence.  What he lacks in athleticism and footwork, he makes up for in length and size.  It will be important that he plays smart and not get into foul trouble especially in big games.

The Mavs should still be a dominant team.  The bright-side is they still have coach Rick Carlisle who preaches defense.  He will have to call on the perimeter guys step up their defense and this team will be just fine and be the favorite to win it all again.  If the Mavs didn’t land Odom to replace Chandler, the NBA would see a new champion though.

Prediction: 48-18, Division Champions, 1st Overall in West, Championship Contender

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