What to look for in the pre-season opener

Basketball is back Mavs fans! The Mavericks open up their pre-season opener against the Houston Rockets this evening (October 7th) and it’s sure to be an exciting one.

Now Dirk Nowitzki won’t be playing due to a minor hip injury but there’s still plenty of players and storylines to pay attention to.

1) Perhaps the most talked about position on the Mavs roster has been the point guard position and who should be the starter when the season begins. Now it seems like Jameer Nelson will get the first shot at being the starting point guard so all eyes will be on him and how he manages the offense.

2) Can Chandler Parsons become a versatile defender? The Mavs need a player in the starting player that is capable of guarding athletic wing players and that player HAS to be Parsons. Coach Carlisle has worked with Parsons this past summer on his game and while he noted Parsons wasn’t in tip top shape coming into training camp, he will be. Oh yeah and there’s that whole Parsons facing his former team for the first time thing.

3) Speaking of defense I’m really going to be paying attention to Al-Farouq Aminu on the defensive end and hopefully get to see him matched up against James Harden. I’m expecting to see a lot of minutes for Aminu tomorrow so hopefully we see some of that lock down defense we’ve been hearing about.

4) Charlie Villanueva is playing for a spot on the final 15 man roster so I think we’ll see a nice game from him not just against the Rockets but in every pre-season game. Villanueva gives the Mavs a backup stretch 4 they thought they were getting in Rashard Lewis. He’s battled injuries over the last few years and with Dirk not playing this is his best opportunity to show why he deserves to be on the Mavs final roster.

5) Raymond Felton can take a step in the right direction in proving Mavs fans he can be a key player this season with his performance Tuesday night. Felton has been criticized over the years for being out of shape so pay attention to how he moves out on the court on the defensive end. Also how does Carlisle use Felton? Will Carlisle use Felton as the premier backup to Nelson and play Harris at the 2, we’ll get our first clue Tuesday night.

6) Ricky Ledo is another guy that’s out to prove something this pre-season. Ledo lighted it up from three-point land at the Mavs Fan Jam this past Saturday so lets see how it translates to game action. Ledo could be huge for the Mavs as they don’t really have a true shooting guard to back up Ellis. Ledo may be that player if he finds consistency and should have plenty of opportunity to demonstrate it.

7) Monta Ellis has been a steal for the Mavs thus far and now it’s time to see if he’s been able to become ‘unguardable’ by improving his outside shot. He may not get many minutes seeing as it’s just the first pre-season game but still something to watch out for.

8) Greg Smith was not asked a single question when he Mavs introduced their off-season acquisitions last week but that doesn’t matter. Smith is the guy that has to back up Tyson Chandler and bring the energy and toughness when his number’s called upon. With Tyson’s injury history I can’t stress enough how important Smith is to this Mavs team.

9) We already know what Tyson Chandler brings to the Mavs, it’ll just be fun to see him out on the court again and hopefully we see at least one alley-oop pass to Tyson.

10) Jae Crowder’s role wil expand now that the Matrix is no longer with the Mavs. Crowder has been a solid defender but can he take it to the next level? Either he or Aminu will have to emerge as that lockdown defender.

It’s only pre-season and it’s hard to predict who plays what amount of minutes but nonetheless it’ll be great to see the Mavs out on the court again. This team has so much depth that there’ll be a player to keep an eye on at all times. This is just the beginning and it should be a fun ride.

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