Despite having ample salary-cap space, Dallas has failed to reel in big-name free agents in recent years: Deron Williams, Dwight Howard DeAndre Jordan and Hassan Whiteside, just to name a few. In that sense Harrison Barnes is a significant departure from the trend—even if the Mavs' big-ticket signing has averaged just 10.1 points in his four-year career and comes at the steep price of $94 million over four seasons.
It has been a long time since the Mavs have had a reliable perimeter creator to pair with Dirk Nowitzki, who, even with declining efficiency, has been the biggest factor in keeping their attack afloat. The hope is that Barnes, 24, can reduce the burden on the 38-year-old Nowitzki and become a swingman scorer who does more than simply shoot threes from the corner—which was largely his role with Golden State. While he has a versatile all-around game, it's not clear whether he can handle more elevated responsibilities.
Working in Barnes's favor is the eccentric genius of Rick Carlisle, who can coax points out of a shoebox and a gum wrapper. Barnes doesn't have to become a 20-point scorer right away, but he needs to show strong signs that he can eventually if he's going to become a key part of Dallas's post-Dirk success.
PROJECTED LINEUP | 2015--16 stats
COACH RICK CARLISLE (9th season with Mavericks)
2015--16 RECORD 42--40 (2nd in Southwest)
PG DERON WILLIAMS
14.1 PPG; 5.8 APG; 41.4 FG%; 34.4 3FG%
SG WESLEY MATTHEWS
12.5 PPG; 3.1 RPG; 38.8 FG%; 36.0 3FG%
SF HARRISON BARNES*
11.7 PPG; 4.9 RPG; 46.6 FG%; 38.3 3FG%
PF DIRK NOWITZKI
18.3 PPG; 6.5 RPG; 44.8 FG%; 36.8 3FG%
C ANDREW BOGUT*
5.4 PPG; 7.0 RPG; 1.6 BPG; 62.7 FG%
PG J.J. BAREA
10.9 PPG; 4.1 APG; 44.6 FG%; 38.5 3FG%
SG SETH CURRY*
6.8 PPG; 1.5 APG; 45.5 FG%; 45.0 3FG%
SF JUSTIN ANDERSON
3.8 PPG; 2.4 RPG; 0.5 APG; 40.6 FG%
TELLING NUMBER 10.1
A rival scout sizes up Dallas
Rick Carlisle is one of the three or four best coaches in the league. He gets a ton out of that team every year. So I think they'll definitely be around .500.... As long as Dirk Nowitzki is out there, that's something. His ability to shoot and play pick-and-pop still gives them an advantage.... Harrison Barnes is a solid player. I'm sure he'll put up better numbers than he did in Golden State, but if they're expecting him to emerge as an All-Star now that he's getting more shots, I think they're going to be a little bit underwhelmed.... Andrew Bogut's good, he's just not going to play 82 games. He'll probably play closer to 60, and in 15 of them he probably won't be feeling great and will therefore give a lackluster effort. I don't want to blame it on him, because his body's messed up. But when his juices are flowing, he's strong, he's tough, he's a great rim protector, very savvy on defense, and he can really pass.... Justin Anderson is gonna be good. I wonder how long a leash Carlisle will have with him. Rick prefers to play two smaller guards who are good pick-and-roll players, and that's not Justin. If he does that, maybe Justin will get squeezed a little bit. I actually think he's almost as good a player as Barnes. Maybe not as good as a scorer, but definitely at rebounding and shot blocking.... Deron Williams is O.K. He's not what he once was, but Carlisle does really well creating opportunities for point guards. If you told someone five years ago that Marvin Williams would be a better NBA player than Deron Williams, I don't think they would have believed you.
Good news: They won't get bounced in the first round again. Bad news: Because they won't make it there.