The Western Conference is under a dangerous misconception this year. What was once thought to be the most powerful conference in the history of the NBA has disappointed of late.

This is very notable mostly due to the fire power that each team (especially in the top eight playoff picture) has acquired. Probably the poster boy of the conferences struggles can be funneled into the Dallas franchise. The Mavericks’ roster has gone through many changes this season, swapping veterans and young and upcoming players alike. The biggest of these can be seen through the acquiring of former All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo, at the cost of mortgaging multiple first round picks along with three contributing players, including Brandan Wright. As of right now, the blockbuster trade has totally spoiled on the Mavs, Rondo looks like a shell of himself. However, if you dive into the details, the Mavs are actually shaping up to become this year’s underdog in the playoffs, and here’s why.

1)     The Injury Bug and schedule

The Mavs have one of the toughest post all-star break schedule that has included multiple back to backs against really good western playoff teams. Even the Eastern conference teams they’re playing are charging at a high level right now themselves (including games against the Hawks, Cavs, and Raptors). Since the all star game, the Mavs haven’t been able to catch a break injury wise. Tyson Chandler has a bad hip, Chandler Parsons missed 10 games with an ankle, Monta Ellis has struggled since a hip injury a month ago and Dirk Nowitzki at the age of 36 is always aching. Rajon Rondo also missed time with a facial fracture. With so many guys missing significant time, it can only be fair to have the jury still out on a team like this, if this team is completely healthy, then chemistry can start being built.

2)     Coaching Experience

The Mavs are more than likely headed to their 14th playoff appearance in the last 15 seasons, and despite being a lower seed, this is by no means uncharted territory. Need a precedent? Simply look at last season. The only team to take the champion Spurs to seven games and really give San Antonio a true scare was the 8th seeded Mavs, who were a few breaks away from one of the biggest upsets ever, Period. This can be attributed to the genius on the bench in Rick Carlisle, who, if he can get players to buy in, can maximize his team’s talents. He displays his coaching ability the best in the playoffs (refer to 2011 championship) and that was evident last year and will be evident this year, Having Carlisle on the bench is a major reason this team can still turn this season around.

 

3)     Talent can still carry 

Don’t get me wrong, teams win championships, there’s no way around it. However, as we’ve seen countless times before, talent alone can carry a team pretty far. Simply looking at this roster, there is nothing but proven talent on the team:

PG’s – Rajon Rondo, JJ Barea  SG’s- Monta Ellis, Devin Harris, SF- Chandler Parsons, Richard Jefferson, PF-Dirk Nowitzki , Amare Stoudemire, C- Tyson Chandler.

That top 10 is easily one of the most talented and recognizable rotations in the league. You just have to think, with a roster that is so talented and balanced, they will figure it out. Think of it like this, can you have 4 games in the playoffs where any of those players get a hot hand and can carry the team to a win? Is a Dirk 30 point game, a Monta Ellis clutch 4th quarter, a Rajon Rondo triple double or a Tyson Chandler defensive outing really that farfetched in a playoff series to carry the rest of the team? Of course not, which is why, even though this roster might have been forced on each other, the potential is there. When you have potential, talent, a great coach plus the ability to finally get healthy how can the Mavs be written off so early in March? The West is still tough and the top eight teams really do all have a legitimate chance to go far come playoff time. The Mavs are contenders, and I believe they’re about to prove it.