Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
The Dallas Mavericks in the last week have seen key reserves Brandan Wright (shoulder) and Devin Harris (toe) return to practice. Wright is hoping to be able to play this week, while Harris is expected to return anytime around mid-December.
It will be very interesting to see how Coach Rick Carlisle expects to use Wright. New acquired free agents Samuel Dalembert and DeJuan Blair have done an exceptional job manning the center position for the Mavericks. It will be interesting to see if Carlisle is willing to go against his traditional lineup of using Shawn Marion as the backup power forward to Dirk Nowitzki and go with a combination of Blair and Wright to back up Nowitzki and Dalembert.
Both Wright and Blair excel in the pick-n-roll. As we’ve seen so far Blair prefers to bang and use that floater while Wright is more of an athletic big who likes to elevate over his defender and use his soft touch. Wright thought taller and longer than Blair isn’t as physical and as a consistent rebounder as Blair. Wright though does bring the ability to block shots and has shown last year to be a great fit alongside Nowitzki.
The other solution would be play Wright, Blair, and Dalembert exclusively at the center spot. This is where Carlisle will probably read the match ups and see who has been performing well from game to game.
Harris’s spot in the rotation seems to be set in stone. Rookies Gal Mekel and Shane Larkin have struggled with consistency backing up Jose Calderon. Harris will most likely play both backup guard spots as Wayne Ellington has also fallen out of the rotation.
Outside of Marion and maybe Jae Crowder, Harris is the Mavericks best perimeter defender. Along with defense Harris will also be able to bring a change of pace to the offense to counter Calderon. Expect the Mavericks to push the pace when Harris and Monta Ellis are on the court together. Harris not known as a great shooter has seen his shooting improve over the years and should be a far better perimeter threat than Mekel and Larkin. Harris will also be able to lessen the burden of 6th-man Vince Carter, as he can initiate and carry the offense at times.
There’s no doubt that both Harris and Wright will help the bench and team. Both will improve the defense with their speed and athleticism. They’ll also be able to help the offense with their abilities to get and create easy baskets. We can also expect these two to build a great tandem together with their pick-n-rolls abilities.
Though the Mavericks have been in a slump recently, we can expect this team to take off and hit another level when these two are fully recovered and integrated.
It’s these same two players that allowed the Mavericks to add the likes of Ellis, Calderon, Dalembert, and so on. Wright was willing to wait to sign until the Mavericks used up all the cap-space and Harris was willing to take the vet-minimum after finding out about the injury.