With the Preseason about to be out of the way and the about roster set, here’s a look at the 2013-14 Mavericks.
Pg- Jose Calderon, Devin Harris, Gal Mekel, Shane Larkin
Sg- Monta Ellis, Wayne Ellington, Ricky Ledo
Sf- Shawn Marion, Vince Carter, Jae Crowder
Pf- Dirk Nowitzki
C- Samuel Dalembert, Brandan Wright, DeJuan Blair, Bernard James
– Jose Calderon will be a sigh of relief for Carlisle, Dirk, and the rest of the Mavericks. Last season the Mavericks struggled at the point guard position as they saw Darren Collison, Derek Fisher, and Mike James taking turns starting last season. Calderon will bring stability and most importantly will have Carlisle’s confidence to lead the offense. Calderon excels in the pick-n-roll/pop, which will work great with Dirk and Wright. Calderon also shot an NBA leading 46% from 3pt range last season, which will also allow him to spread the court and play off of Dirk and Ellis. Calderon holds a career average of 7 assists a game, but don’t be surprised to see that number increase with the talent Calderon has at his disposal. Calderon’s career average of 1.7 turnovers a game will allow Carlisle to have a point guard he can trust to get the ball to Dirk in the right spots, especially at the end of games, something the Mavericks struggled with last season. Calderon will never be mistaken for a defensive stopper, but this was also a weakness for the Mavericks last season.
-Monta Ellis is probably happier to get out of Milwaukee than Yi Jianlian was after Milwaukee refused to trade his draft rights. Ellis saw his scoring, field goal %, 3pt %, free throw attempts, and free throw % drop after being dealt there from Golden State. Ellis is coming to the Mavericks with a negative label of being an inefficient and undersized shooting guard who doesn’t play defense. The Mavericks are hoping that the Monta we’ve all seen the last season and a half is more of a product of being on a mediocre team than a decline in his play. Ellis has never played with a player of Dirk’s stature, a pass first point guard as Calderon, and a coach such as Carlisle. The belief is that the mix of those three will allow Ellis to to get ample operating room to attack the basket and to not settle for long range jump shots and the freedom to focus on playing to his limitations and not try to carry a team. If Carlisle is able to get Ellis to be efficient, expect Dirk and Ellis to thrive together in the two man game.
-One of the very few familiar faces. Marion will be counted on to defend the top players from each team as he has since he’s come to Dallas and due to the lack of defensive credentials Ellis and Calderon have it’s safe to say that won’t change.. He’s also has been one of the teams top rebounders since he’s been in Dallas. Marion should strive as the slashing Ellis and pass first Calderon look to get him easy shots. Marion has also been Dirk’s primary backup, which explains why there is no other listed power forward outside of Dirk.
-Coming off of his most frustrating and injury filled season, Dirk has a lot to prove. A healthy Dirk changes the dynamics of this team and the Western Conference. If Dirk is fully healthy and “father time” hasn’t fully taken over, the the Mavericks will be in great shape. Expect Dirk to thrive in the pick-n-pop with Calderon, Ellis, and Harris this season.
-The defensives minded Dalembert should be a great fit for the Mavericks. With lack of defense of the starting backcourt the presence of Dalembert is magnified. The Mavericks will need Dalembert to rebound, block shots, and lock up the paint on a consistent basis for this this team to be at its best. Dalembert sometimes struggles to catch passes, which may result in blown opportunities for easy baskets.
-VC has been striving coming off the bench since arriving to Dallas. You can still expect Carter to be heavily involved in running the second unit, but don’t be surprised if you see him playing off the ball as a spot up shooter more thanks to the arrivals of Calderon, Ellis, and Harris. Carter has also been one of the Maverick’s top defenders on the perimeter, something that Carlisle hopes to see continue. Thanks to the new editions, Carlisle will also have the ability to limit Carter’s minutes to keep him fresh through out the season.
-After agreeing to a 3yr contract, the Mavericks and Harris found out that he needed surgery. Both sides were able to agree to a one year deal and finalize the reunion. Harris though not as explosive as he was when he first was in Dallas, still has the ability to get to the basketball. Harris who has seen his scoring drop every year since averaging a career best 21pts/game during the 2009 season, was not brought in to be the franchise saving point guard the team hoped he’d be after drafting him. Instead the team will count on him to run the second unit with Carter and to play and defend both guard spots. Expect the Mavericks to pick up the pace when he is in to replace Calderon, especially when he and Ellis are in together.
-An under the radar signing, the Mavericks may have found the perfect complimentary piece to this roster. Ellington shot over 39% from the 3-pt line last season and is a career 38% shooter from 3-pt range. Expect Ellington to get a lot of open looks with the likes of Dirk, Ellis, and Calderon on the court alongside him. Ellington also has shown the ability to be able to defend the wings.
-Wright comes into this season not just with a new contract but with 15lbs of added muscle. The Mavericks will need Wright to be able improve on his rebounding numbers and be able to be a defensive presence when he’s on the court. If Wright is able to show those two things then it won’t be a shock to anyone to see him getting most of the center minutes. Wright is great in the pick-n-roll, which should please Calderon and Ellis. Only thing that has kept Wright in and out of the rotation has been the defensive side of the ball. It will be interesting to see if Wright will be able to overtake the backup power forward position, or if it will belong to Marion. Wright suffered a shoulder injury in the first preseason game. There is no set return date.
-Blair though only 6’7″ will be asked to play the center and maybe even some power forward. Although undersized Blair brings a willingness and toughness to the glass. For him to get consistent minutes he’ll have to be a force on the glass. It will be interesting to see if Carlisle ever tries to consistently pair Wright and Blair together when Dirk and Marion are both off of the court.
-Even though Crowder was a second round pick last season he was able to gain Carlisle’s trust and was part of the rotation. Crowder comes into the season 15lbs lighter per Carlisle’s request. With the new additions it would not be a surprise to see Crowder fall out of the rotation. For Crowder to gain consistent minutes he’ll have to prove that he can consistently rebound, play defense, and shoot the ball. If he can’t do those then expect Ellington to take most of his minutes.
-Expect Mekel to be the primary backup to Calderon until Harris and Larkin are both fully recovered. Mekel has plenty to learn during his rookie year. He understands how to run the pick-n-roll, which explains why the Mavericks brought him in. He isn’t the quickest or most athletic guard so he’ll have to learn to compensate against the more explosive point guards. His jump shot needs work.
-Another rookie point guard who excels in the pick-n-roll, Larkin reminds a lot of people of former Maverick J.J. Barea. Larkin has great quickness, but must also work on his shot for him to be even more effective.
-Ledo has the potential to be a 2nd round steal. The McDonald All-American was found to be academically ineligible and was never able to play a minute during his freshman season. Ledo has the size and skill set to be a good NBA shooting guard. It will not be a surprise to see him spend most of the season in the D-League.
-It will not be a shock to see the Mavericks replace Jame’s spot on the team. He will always be a candidate to be traded or released throughout the season. While he is on the team, it is unlikely he will see much playing time as long as everyone is healthy. If James is needed he excels at blocking shots, but struggles guarding opposing bigs one on one down low.
So that’s a quick look at the Mavericks to start the 2013-2014 season