Dirk Nowitzki is putting up a valiant fight against Father Time, but the seventh-leading scorer in NBA history is now a complementary piece on offense, and a guy you have to try to hide on defense. Zaza Pachulia is big, smart, tough, dependable and reliable and has a surprisingly soft mid-range jumper, all qualities that make Pachulia a good backup center. He isn’t exactly athletic, which makes him a major downgrade from Tyson Chandler and the DeAndre Jordan dream. Here’s what CARMELO thinks of the Mavs’ main pieces (check out every NBA player here): As Chandler Parsons transitions into being the pretty face of the franchise, the Mavs need him to back up his belief that he can be one of the NBA’s premier point-forwards. If you ask him, all he needs is the ball in his hands more, now that he’s surrounded by shooters. Wesley Matthews, 29 and coming off a torn left Achilles tendon, has been a terrific role player and parlayed that success into a max contract. As a dude who thrives on disrespect, “Iron Man” will be intrigued that CARMELO considers him a mediocre defender. The Dallas Mavericks failed to make it past the first round for the fourth consecutive time last season, and now they’re sprinting on the mediocrity treadmill that owner Mark Cuban was so determined to avoid. If anything, they took steps backward after scrambling to fill the roster spot they thought would go to big fish DeAndre Jordan. The Las Vegas over-under for Mavs wins this season is 38.5. FiveThirtyEight’s CARMELO projection system is a bit more optimistic, 41-41, but even that would match the worst record in Cuban’s tenure, now entering its 16th season. We’re inaugurating our NBA player projection system, CARMELO, with 2015-16 season previews for every team in the league. Check out the teams we’ve already previewed here. Learn more about CARMELO here. As Deron Williams has said, he was “kind of a consolation prize” after the disappointment of the Jordan debacle. He was a huge bust in Brooklyn after signing a max contract, prompting the Nets to pay $27 million to buy out his final two seasons, but the Mavs hope he’ll be a $5.4 million bargain in Dallas. Dallas certainly believes he’ll be an upgrade over the post-Jason Kidd point guard carousel, so they can’t be happy to see 2014 Jameer Nelson (whom they dumped as quickly as possible) come up in Williams’s player comps. Devin Harris’s top comp is Brad Davis, so Harris is clearly a candidate to have his number hanging from the American Airlines Center rafters after he retires.