Dallas Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks: How does Dirk playing center for the Mavs impact players around him?

Sefko: Seth is as good a shooter as there is in his league. He’s probably — well actually he was a better choice than his brother. So you give those guys a chance and if you do that you’re kind of small back court, although Smith plays bigger than he is. And then you put Wes Matthews and Dirk and Harrison Barnes on the front line and take your chances in the first six minutes of the game. Beyond that, I think there’s wiggle room in the games that Dirk sits — and there’s going to be several of those this year. Nerlens Noel can slide in and start and that makes him a different team. But it’s just going to be interesting to see how Rick handles the options because he does have a few.

How much of Dirk’s game is changing now that he is playing center

Sefko: Well it could be fool’s gold at the moment. It’s just preseason but it appears like he’s put a little more emphasis on rebounding the ball and that’s going to be necessary and if he can get you know two or three or four boards before that first time out when he usually will be coming out of the game then that’s a good help. You know he’s going to stick a jumper and you know he score a little bit and he’s never going to defend anybody but that’s why you have the guys on the perimeter out there who are a little bit better defenders in that starting group. Matthews is always going to it’s going to be the leader and Smith can say in front of people and Barnes is better than you think. That’s a potentially good wing defensive group. Now, that said, in the NBA offensive players are too good. You’re not going to stop them all the time. But I think Dirk is going to have another one of those seasons where — will he average 30, 32 minutes, no — but I think it’ll be over 25, 26, 27. I think he’s going to have a great year.

If Harrison Barnes is improving and what Carlisle is looking for

Sefko: He’s trying. That’s going to be a work in progress. I mean you can only grow your game so much in the course of one summer. I mean, he can work on things but you are what you are. And he’s a pretty good three point shooter, a real good mid-range shooter but nobody shoots mid range shots anymore so that part of his game kind of gets lost. He’s trying to get to the rim a little bit more and put more pressure on the defense handling the ball. We’ll see how that goes. He has not been a turnover machine in the past. We’ll see if that changes. But it’s another one of those things that Rick Carlisle wants to see. 

He really wants to put pressure on the opposing defenses. I mean especially with Dennis Smith, he said it last night after the game. He’s already starting to settle too much for jumpshots. Nobody can say in front of this guy when when he gets it going so Carlisle wants him to attack the rim, attack the defense and if he picks up charges fine, but it hasn’t happened yet. He’s getting by people and slithering through and he may not make the lay up he’s putting the defense in a compromising position. So that’s what he wants to see out of Barnes and Smith, and you even see Wes Matthews who is not the fleetest foot Maverick but what he’s trying to get into the lane too. It’s a different look team. It’s more fun to watch for sure already and in the preseason. They’re moving the ball and they’re running up and down and not this incredibly boring snail-like pace that they had last year. I’m kind of a fan right now even though I’m not sure it’s going to produce a whole lot more wins. 

Realistic expectations for the Mavericks this season

Sefko: The realistic expectation is to just get in the playoffs. Now that’s a little bit on the high side. That might be the ceiling. Actually, it is the ceiling. I mean they’re not going to be a homecourt team in the first round. It’s just not going to happen. But they can make the playoffs and if they do I think everybody in the organization would see that as a clear sign of progress and it would also mean that Dennis Smith is the real deal because they’re not going to get there without him. 

If playoffs would be a step forward

Sefko: Oh absolutely. I mean, Harrison Barnes, he’s like Dirk. He’s won a championship. He’s been to the finals a couple of times. He knows what what that feels like and 33 wins last year did not sit well with him… He didn’t like it and neither did anybody else in there and especially Dirk and Carlisle either for that matter. But it’s not going to happen overnight. I do think there’s a chance they can they can be better. I think they’ll win more than the 33 they won last year. But I’m not sure they can win enough, whether it’s 42 or 44 or 40 or whatever it’s going to take to get the playoffs. I’m not sure they get there but I think they’ll be better and I know they’ll be more fun to watch. 

Twitter: @ESefko, @Evan_P_Grant, @KSherringtonDMN

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