Since the acquisition of
Raymond Felton Jose Calderon Darren Collison, the cries to upgrade the point guard position have been loud and frequent. Can you blame fans? Night after night we see Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, and many other point guards light up the Mavericks defense. While many are suggesting the Mavs desperately need to upgrade the point guard spot, I ask, is it really that big of an issue?
Felton, Devin Harris, and Gal Mekel currently occupy the Mavs point guard spot. Nothing to get excited about, actually, there’s plenty to hate. Mekel has yet to prove he can hold his own against NBA level talent. Felton is coming off a bad and fat season. Plus the thought of Harris falling and missing the whole season will always be a concern. Oh, and those pull-up two for one threes are enough to question why he’s even in the game.
Yet, with so much to dislike about the current crop, are we overreacting?
The team just brought in the multi-dimensional Chandler Parsons, whom coach Rick Carlisle said “I think he can play the 3, 4, 1 and 2.” Safe to say that Parsons will be trusted with plenty of playmaking responsibilities.
Despite playing alongside Dwight Howard (24%) and James Harden (27.3%), Parsons’ usage rate was 19.3%. In comparison, Calderon, who was the Mavs starting point guard had a usage rate of 16.2% and starting small forward ,Shawn Marion, was 15.7%.
You’re probably reading this and thinking, why does this matter?
Last season the Mavs deployed Calderon, one of the smartest and most reliable point guards in the NBA, yet he didn’t handle the ball much for the Mavericks. Yes, Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki were on the court and with no surprise both led the team in usage rate at 26% and 26.9%, but the other two starters were non-threats with the ball in their hands.
Nothing against Marion – he played his butt off – but when he put the ball on the floor you knew something bad was going to happen. As for Samuel Dalembert? He couldn’t even hang onto the ball to get hist first dribble in.
Back to why does this matters. Many of the possessions, like last season, many will go through Ellis and Nowitzki. Now with adding the skill-set of Parsons, the Mavs don’t just add a three-point threat, but a player who can make and create plays for himself and his teammates.
Parsons averaged four assists per game last season. His counterpart Marion averaged a mere 1.6. Again, not a shot at Marion, he wasn’t brought in to be a playmaker, but just stating a fact. It would come to no shock to see Parsons’ assist number rise above five with the offense expected to run more through him in Dallas than it was in Houston.
With Parsons joining Ellis and Nowitzki as playmakers, the starting point guard won’t exactly be a point guard, but more of a stabilizer. There has been no clear indication of who will man the starting point guard duties. It’s a coin flip between Harris and Felton at this point, though it has been reported that the preference is for Harris to continue the reserve role he had last season. Mo Williams hasn’t just been rumored as a potential Mav, but as a starter. If any point guard could replicate Calderon’s 3-pt shooting and no-defense approach, Williams is the guy.
Unless the Mavs surprise us with a trade for Rajon Rondo or signing of Eric Bledsoe, the starting point guard spot will easily be the Mavs weakest position. But when considering the starting unit is filled with playmakers at shooting guard, small forward, and power forward, and throw in a center who excels in the pick-n-roll, this may not be a bad thing.
While the memories of Collison starting still haunt some of us, as it taught us the valuable lesson of having a quality point guard. The 2014-2015 Mavs are not comparable to the Collison-O.J. Mayo led 2012-2013 Mavs, as Collison was one of the primary playmaker.
This season, a healthy Nowtizki with Ellis and Parsons will drasticaly relieve the pressure on the Mavs starting point guard. While it would be nice to have an All-Star caliber player at the spot as the other four, the Mavs are currently constructed to offset this issue.
Also with the addition of Parsons, the starting point guard won’t exactly be asked to replace Calderon’s shooting, but the shooting of Marion due to Parsons’ ability to spread the court and knock down the three ball.
The Mavs need their starting point guard to play a simple game, as Mario Chalmers did for the LeBron James led heat. Defend, take care of the ball (Chalmers actually struggled with this), and knock down some open shots. With Ellis and Parsons initiating the offense and Nowitzki demanding the defense’s attention, the Mavs won’t need much more than that.