The Mavericks have re-tooled with youth and defense which should propel them back to a high seed in the Western Conference. “We bring a lot of experience. We’re all competitive and we respect one another,” Nelson said. “No matter when we’re out there, our track record is that we’re going to play our hardest.” One of Dallas’ other big offensive strengths last season was having a bench that ranked sixth in the NBA with 35.7 points per game after leading the NBA the year before by averaging 41.5 points per game. Losing Carter, who chipped in 12 points a night, is big. But adding Aminu, Felton and Jefferson will hopefully be more than enough to offset that. Harris and Wright are two other key members of the Dallas second unit. After David Liam Kyle/NBAE/Getty Images struggling early last year while making his way back from offseason foot surgery, Harris found a niche off the pine as an energy guy who could run the offense, make a great pass and/or drain a big shot. Harris was a great sparkplug last season and should continue to be so this year. It’s a similar story with Wright, who figures to get spot starts here and there but the young big man can do what he does best-get rebounds, block shots, be a defensive presence in the paint and also occasionally score on the offensive end. “Our bench, it’s a little different this year obviously,” Wright said. “Losing Vince Carter was the biggest loss of our offseason, but I think we’re going to have to come t o g e t h e r. We ’ re definitely going to have to get things rolling when we come off the bench.” Crowder is another good high-energy guy off the bench as could be veteran Charlie Villanueva, provided he makes Dallas’ opening night roster. OUTLOOK Some coaches might gripe about having so many new faces to integrate into their roster, but not Carlisle. “It’s exciting when you get an injection of new blood into your roster. We’re becoming used to it each year now,” he said. “We’re getting a lot of new guys the last few years, which I like. I like the challenge of that.” Carlisle proved last year like he has previously done during his successful head coaching career that he is a master of not only getting a group of players to buy into his defense-first philosophy, but also in molding them into a truly cohesive unit. Of course, this process takes time as it did last year. But once the Mavericks come together, they figure to be a force in the West. A top-four seed in the playoffs is definitely not out of the question for this talented and hungry group. SPOTLIGHT: Chandler Parsons Parsons was Dallas’ marquee addition this summer and he’s ready to prove that he’s worth every penny of the three-year, $46 million deal he signed on July 15. “I’ve always been a team guy and I’m not trying to come here, get mine and be the go-to guy necessarily,” Parsons said. “I’m going to do whatever it takes for our team to win as many games as possible. Dirk Nowitzki is one of the greatest to ever play. Monta Ellis can really score the ball and I think Tyson Chandler is one of the best defensive centers in the League and can really finish.” But it wasn’t just the chance to play for a great organization like Dallas and have teammates like Chandler, Ellis and Nowitzki that lured him to the Mavs. He also wanted to play for Carlisle, someone who can definitely help him realize his immense potential. “He’s unique and he’s different, but he’s such a perfectionist,” Parsons said. “He’s a great coach. He’s one of the better coaches in the league. He was another big reason why I signed here, just to get a chance to play for him. He’s helped me not only on the court but off the court.” One of his newest teammates has already given him a ringing endorsement. “He’s still not on his prime,” Nowitzki said. “He can still get a lot better. But we like what he brings to the table and that’s his versatility.” The pressure of the deal will be on Parsons, but Dallas also hopes he’ll be a bridge to keep the Mavericks going as Nowitzki transitions into a role player. At just 26, Dallas plans on having Parsons during his prime years, hoping the combination of him and Ellis along with Nowitzki is good enough to challenge for the franchise’s second title.
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