Injuries, inconsistency, and shuffling have hindered a Dallas Mavericks’ bench that was expected to be a strong suit coming into the season.
Last season’s bench of Darren Collison, Brandan Wright, Elton Brand, Vince Carter, Jae Crowder and other rotating pieces averaged 41.5 points.
With the additions of Devin Harris, Wayne Ellington, Shane Larkin, and DeJuan Blair being added to an improving Wright and Crowder and the veteran Carter, big things were expected from this bench.
Well….things haven’t gone as planned: Harris missed the first 41 game with a toe injury, Wright missed time after injuring his shoulder in the preseason, Crowder hasn’t exactly offered much consistency, Ellington hasn’t been able to crack the rotation, and most importantly Carter’s old body hasn’t exactly been able to carry a depleted second-unit.
The bench was fizzling, averaging just 32.7 points per game in the first 44 games of the season.
An expected strength has become an Achilees-Heel. The toll on the starters has become to increase. Monta Ellis, Jose Calderon, and Dirk Nowitzki all needed to play bigger roles and minutes.
No way the Mavs could last and hope to stay in the playoff picture if this continued.
The Mavs will need a bench that con produce.
They got it.
In the last two games the Mavs bench has been everything we expected coming into the season.
Harris running the show, Carter getting good looks, Wright finishing around the basket, and Blair and Crowder doing the dirty work.
Harris has been the biggest catalyst to this surge. Hitting shots (8-13 fg, 4-7 3pt), creating for his teammates (5.5 asts), being able to bring defense to the guard positions, and most importantly lessening the burden on the now 37-year old Carter.
Carter can now do what he’s best suited to do for this Mavs team.
Carter, now does not have to worry about being the playmaker for the second unit and can focus on capitalizing on easy opportunities. He’s averaged 16 points on 12-23 shooting (52.2%) in the last 2 games, which are jumps from his season numbers of 11.4 pts and 40.7% shooting.
Much is spoken about the chemistry about Carter and Wright, but it should also come to no surprise that Harris and Carter have clicked as quickly as they have. They played 2+ seasons together on the New Jersey Nets, with both averaging over 20 points during the 2008-09 season.
Carter’s chemistry and familiarity with Harris and Wright should continue to make his job as the Mavs 6th man easier.
Throw in Wright’s ability to finish, Blair bruising inside, and Crowder’s knack of just being the plus/minus king, the Mavs may have finally got the boost they need.
With Harris at the helm and still improving, expect this Mavs bench to become something the team needs…