- Head Athletic Trainer: Casey Smith (11 Years as Head AT)
- Total Games Lost to Injury Since the 2005-06 Season: 1268 (9th in the league)
- Total Cost for Games Lost to Injury Since the 2005-06 Season: $85.2 million (8th)
- 2014-2015 Games Missed: 71 (T-4th)
- 2014-2015 Cost: $6.7 million (10th)
- Best Finish in Games Missed Rank: 4 (2011-12 and 2014-15)
- Worst Finish in Games Missed Rank: 24 (2008-09)
The Mavericks have been one of the league’s most consistent presences since Mark Cuban bought the franchise. A large component of the team’s success centers on their ability to stay healthy, a particularly challenging task with a team generally comprised of veterans. Led by head athletic trainer Casey Smith and athletic performance director Jeremy Holsopple, the Mavs medical staff has regularly been ahead of the curve in both preventative care and treatment options. As a result the Mavericks staff have not only routinely finished below the league average for games missed but in the top 10 for fewest games missed as well.
Last season was more of the same as the team lost just 71 games to injury, not including the “back injury” that limited Rajon Rondo in the postseason.
However, entering this year, it's a different story as the Mavericks medical team had its hands full at camp. It started in April when forward Chandler Parsons underwent arthroscopic knee surgery for a cartilage-related injury. A bit of mystery followed, as details regarding the procedure were vague. However it was recently revealed Parsons underwent a “hybrid microfracture” surgery and his availability to start the year is in doubt.
The medical team’s workload further increased with the offseason acquisitions of Wesley Matthews and JaVale McGee. Matthews tore his Achilles last season and has been diligently working to return to top form. However the injury is often career altering and Matthews will be facing an up-hill battle, despite the fact that he participated in the preseason finale. McGee survived the final roster cut despite missing over 100 games over the last three seasons while managing a stress fracture in his tibia. Furthermore new point guard Deron Williams also has a history of ankle injuries though it has been his calves that limited throughout the preseason.
We hoped coming in that with a litany of injuries to manage and an ever-improving Western Conference, the Mavericks would still find themselves fighting for a place in the postseason. One of the reasons why: The previous work of the Smith-led medical team, which suggests they're up for the task and could be one of the primary reasons Dallas remains relevant.
And today? Dallas is 9-4, fresh off a six-game win streak. Deron Williams has been a centerpiece, a "closer'' while at the same time trying to manage his minutes due to the calf problems. Wes Matthews isn't "himself'' yet but Dallas is already letting him play about 26 minutes in games and is asking him to guard the other team's best wing or guard. Parsons is ramping up to the point where you can see him as the eventual go-to/go-through guy he so badly wants to be.
It's important to keep Dirk's minutes manageable ... because as our Jonny Auping writes here, the more you manage his load the more and longer he can carry Dallas.
“It felt real good,” says McGee, who got eight points and six boards as Zaza's backup. “The first stint I was in, I was kind of out of breath. … It was definitely a blessing just being out here, period. I’m just grateful to be out here.”
And who should JaVale - and Wes, Dirk, Deron and Chandler -- direct their gratitute toward?
"It's Casey,'' coach Rick Carlisle tells DB.com. "He's the best trainer in the NBA, bar none. Why? It's everything. We are on the cutting edge of innovation; that's always been important to the Mavericks. There are new ways to look at things, new information, important information, and Casey Smith is right at the center of all of it. And then there his is work ethic, and his relationships with the players. It's one thing to have the skills but it's another thing to make it translate to the players. Casey Smith does all of that.''
In Jeff Stotts' health-related rankings, Dallas is a top-10 team across the board. But to Rick Carlisle? Casey Smith (known internationally as Team USA’s athletic trainer for the 2008 and 2012 Olympics) is a key member of the staff ... top-1 across the board.