Why it’s a good thing the Mavs are underdogs

We all know what happened this offseason with all the changes that have been made by the roster. While all these changes have brought much excitement to the city of Dallas, outside of the metroplex the perception remains the same.

There have been a lot of mixed reactions as to how legitimate of a contender the Mavericks are, heading into the 2014-2015 season. Some have labeled the Mavs as a possible title contender this upcoming season, but most have ranked the Mavs at finishing around the fourth or fifth seed in the Western Conference Standings. Take for example NBA.com and ESPN’s power rankings that have the Mavs ranked 4th and 5th, respectively, entering the NBA season.

While many Mavs fans believe the 5th or even 4th seed may be too low, myself included, this isn’t anything new when it comes basketball analysts’ perception of the Mavs. However, this shouldn’t be considered a bad thing. The Mavs have proven time and time again they’re at their best when they’re being overlooked.

Take for example the recent playoff series against the Spurs: not a single ESPN reporter/analyst had the Mavs going past 5 games in the series. Of course we know what ended up happening, and the rest is history.

Same goes for the 2011 championship season when no one believed the Mavs were a true title contender until after they defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round of the playoffs. Teams were lining up to face the Mavs in the first round. Even when the Mavs went to the Finals they were perceived as huge underdogs against LeBron James and the Miami Heat’s “Big 3.”

It’s not just the team as a whole that is undervalued and underrated, but it’s the individuals playing and coaching for the Mavs as well. Dirk Nowitzki and Rick Carlisle are the two main individuals who are often overlooked and undervalued year after year. To be honest, I never really heard Rick Carlisle get much credit on a national platform until I heard Stephen A. Smith on ESPN’s First Take praise him time after time this past season. Coaching matters in any professional sports league, but it seems that’s often overlooked when the so-called “analysts” evaluate teams. Carlisle isn’t just a regular coach; he’s a “superstar” coach.

Dirk Nowitzki has been undervalued year after year because he’s not crazy athletic or because he doesn’t have a “flashy” game like a Kevin Durant or LeBron James. But that’s alright because Dirk doesn’t care about what others think; he simply goes out every game and does whatever he can to will his team to victory. Dirk doesn’t need to request a trade or make a “Decision” during free agency because he simply doesn’t care about all the media hype that comes with such a move.

Monta Ellis and Chandler Parsons are two other key names who know what it feels like to be sorely forgotten. Ellis, for years, was given a bad rap for his style of play, but under Rick Carlisle he flourished. Lots of times it’s a coach’s system that can make or break a player’s career–another example of how great coaching is key. Chandler Parsons was a second round draft pick who was being extremely underpaid and now is being challenged to live up to what many are calling an overpaid contract. One can make a case for every player on the Mavs roster being undervalued just like the 2011 team.

Now, of course, the Mavs haven’t helped their case in certain years when they were actually favorites in certain playoff series and came up short. This may have a lot to do with analysts’ perception of the Dallas Mavericks, but more than anything it’s simply the fact that the Mavs aren’t a “flashy” team. But hey, neither was the Mavs team that won the 2011 championship, and quite frankly, I can’t remember a time when that was the Mavs’ style of play.

In the end, it’s not a bad thing if the Mavs aren’t at the top of everyone’s list to win it all because an analyst’s opinion means nothing; players and coaching decide the outcomes of games. Why have the added pressure put on by the media and newscasters?

The Mavs have proven they thrive when no one believes in them, and that’ll be the case once again this season.

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