Despite the Mavericks taking a loss in their first pre-season game to the Houston Rockets, a few key things were learned about some of the players and the NBA in general. I know it was only 1 pre-season game, but this was definitely a precursor for what to expect come regular season.
The first thing we learned, is that the Mavericks-Houston rivalry has never been more intense. Players on both teams were going all out trying to win this game and prove that they were better than their hated rivals. Not only is this good for the fans, but it’s good for the NBA as a whole to have players caring more about their teams than of their own personal stat lines.
Secondly, NBA refs need to tone down the fouls a little bit. During the game there were 109 free throws taken…109! There’s no reason for that many free throws in a single game, especially in pre-season. If players realize that it’s that easy to get to the line, then no one will ever take an outside shot again. There would be no reason to.
Now on to what we learned about the Mavericks specifically. First off, Devin Harris looks to be in the best shape of his career and has been working on his jumper over the summer. Harris finished with 9 points while shooting 3-4 from the field and 2-3 from deep in only 15 minutes of play. Based off of all three point guards play tonight, Devin Harris played like the starter. Jameer Nelson had a bad night shooting by only going 1-6 over all and only dishing out 2 assists in his 17 minutes of playing time. Raymond Felton looked to be in good shape as well but seemed too loose with ball committing 3 turnovers in only 12 minutes at point.
It should also be taken note that Chandler Parsons looks to be well worth his big contract. In 24 minutes of playing time, Parsons put up 14 points on 3-7 shooting (2-4 from 3) as well as going 6-6 from the free throw line. He also racked up 2 steals and a block to go along with his lone assist and rebound. If Chandler continues down this path he will be well worth the money and could possibly evolve into a great two-way player for the Mavs.
Al-Farouq Aminu (11 rebounds) and Jae Crowder deserve praise. Their defense and energy are going to be huge for the team this season. I was surprised Richard Jefferson didn’t check in the game until the 4th quarter. It looks like he might have the Wayne Ellington role this season, great veteran shooter that is not in the rotation. Monta Ellis had 13 points in 23 minutes, showing he hasn’t skipped a beat from last season. Tyson Chandler was in foul trouble most of the first half, but finished with 10 points and 6 rebounds in 13 minutes.
Later in the game when the backups were given a chance to shine, some stepped up and some didn’t. Charlie Villanueva definitely made his case for making the roster by burying 3-6 shots from deep and scoring 13 points in 14 minutes. Gal Mekel also showed promise by scoring 7 points on 3-4 shooting as well as hitting a big 3 to tie up the game with less than 10 seconds to go.
All in all the Mavericks didn’t look as good as they will come regular season, but this game definitely showed some light of good things to come. As long as the team works hard and develops the necessary chemistry, I have no problem seeing this Mavericks team win 50+ games and being one of the teams that have a shot at the title.