For the 2013-2014 NBA season, the Smoking Cuban is trying something new: a power ranking. Each week, the Mavs roster will be ranked 1-12, based both on contributions over the course of the entire season and each player’s performance over the past week.
Today is official the first edition of the “Power Ranking the Mavs.” Because it is preseason, there are a few more bodies on the roster than there will be during the season. I went ahead and ranked everyone currently set to attend training camp with the Mavs, even those players who may seem unlikely to make the roster.
1) Dirk Nowitzki
This was obvious right? Dirk opens the ranking at the top because he is Dirk. But beyond being the greatest Mav of all time and coming off a near 50-40-90 season at age 36, Dirk’s offseason work for the Mavs was invaluable. Because Dirk returned to the Mavs on a far smaller contract than he is worth, the Mavs were able to offer a massive deal to Chandler Parsons in order to pry him from the Houston Rockets, while also adding some other really intriguing talent to the roster. It will be interesting to see if Dirk can avoid the inevitable effects of age and hold onto this spot throughout the season.
2) Tyson Chandler
The greatest center in the history of the Dallas Mavericks returns! (Sorry Roy Tarpley.) Tyson earns spot #2 based on what I believe he will bring to the table this season, not on his performance from last season. That Knicks team was really bad, and Tyson only played in 55 games.
If he can stay healthy, Tyson will be key to the Mavs’ success this year. While his athleticism may have taken a slight step back since 2011, Tyson will tell you that he is a much wiser player today. On defense, he should return as the Mavs’ defensive anchor and emotional leader, and he should have plenty of opportunities to show off his finishing abilities on the offense playing with Monta Ellis and Chandler Parsons. Expect big things.
3) Chandler Parsons
Shiny new toys are fun. Chandler Parsons is the Mavs’ shiny new toy. He is 25, talented, and handsome. He had a great season last year while playing third fiddle to Houston’s douchebag superstars; imagine what good he can do with quality coaching and unselfish co-stars like Dirk and Monta.
I am thoroughly excited to see the various creative ways that Rick Carlisle will find to make use of Parsons’s multifaceted skillset. Parsons will have to play at or above an all-star level in order to justify his salary in some fans’ minds, but it isn’t a stretch to imagine Parsons having a career year this season. I have no idea what his ceiling is, but count me as one fan who is eager to find out.
4) Monta Ellis
Cue the outrage that last year’s Robin to Dirk’s Batman begins the season at spot #4. Look, I get it. I could have ranked TC, Parsons, and Monta in any order, and it probably wouldn’t have been wrong. Here’s my reasoning: I’m worried about how Monta may respond to what could be a slightly reduced role this season. Chandler Parsons can do a lot of the same things that Monta does, and the addition of both Chandlers this offseason has taken some of the spotlight off of Monta.
Will Monta be okay with this? Will he continue buying into Carlisle’s system and team-first ethos? If so, expect Monta to be even better than last year, even if asked to do less on offense. If not, Monta has some history of causing locker room issues that fans should be extremely wary of. So far Monta has said all the right things, but only time will tell.
5) Brandan Wright
Brandan Wright is really, really good at the things he is good at (finishing, scoring, jumping high). He is not so good at most other things (rebounding, defense). Fortunately, the additions of Tyson Chandler, Greg Smith, and even Al-Farouq Aminu make it so that Wright can hopefully be a bit more of a specialist this season.
He should be free to focus on what he is good at without having to try to force himself to be something he is not. He will be a big part of the Mavs bench this season and is one of the better offensive backup bigs in the NBA. He should benefit from a bevy of facilitators on the Mavs roster this season.
6) Devin Harris
Six seems like the right starting place for the man who will likely replace Vince Carter as the Mavs’ sixth man this year. Harris should see plenty of playing time off the bench at both guard spots, and hopefully his on-court chemistry with Brandan Wright will continue to develop. If Harris focuses on playing within the system and making good decisions, he could be the Mavs most important bench piece.
7) Jameer Nelson
Jameer finally escaped a bad situation in Orlando and should be penciled in as Jose Calderon’s replacement as the starting point guard. Don’t expect him to get a ton of minutes this season, but he is a smart vet who will be able to run Carlisle’s offense and get the ball to Dirk, Monta, and Parsons in good spots. If he plays alongside Monta too much, expect the same defensive problems Dallas had last year with Jose and Monta.
8) Richard Jefferson
Jefferson started for the Jazz last season and surprisingly wasn’t terrible. He will have a much smaller and more specific role for the Mavericks: hit threes off the bench and play competent defense. The Mavs have enough talented rotation players that RJeff shouldn’t need to play more than 10-12 minutes a game, if that.
9) Al-Farouq Aminu
Aminu is young and athletic. The two things that he is the best at also happen to be the two things that Dallas needs most from a rotation player: defense and rebounding. Unless Jae Crowder has developed a reliable three-point shot, don’t be surprised if Aminu makes Crowder irrelevant.
10) Jae Crowder
Is this the year Crowder finally learns to shoot? If not, he may not have much worth to this team going forward.
11) Raymond Felton
Everyone is really down on Felton, and that is probably justified. Felton can be a quality guard, and it may work in his favor that the expectations are so low for him. For now, I expect him to be the fourth or fifth guard off the bench.
12) Greg Smith
Greg Smith should function as the “glue guy” big off the bench. He is another young unproven talent who has a lot of upside. Will he play his way into Rick Carlisle’s notoriously fickle big man rotation?
13) Charlie Villanueva
Charlie V was recently signed, probably because the Mavs like the idea of having a stretch 4 off the bench. Personally, I hope he doesn’t make the roster, but if he buys into his role, he could provide some value at times.
14) Bernard James
James is a solid, cheap option as an emergency big who can bring some energy in small doses.
15) Ricky Ledo
Ledo is talented but still very green. I expect him to spend most of the season in Frisco again, barring major injuries problems on the NBA roster. It will be worrisome if he doesn’t own his competition in the D-League.
16) Eric Griffin
Griffin was a lot of fun to watch in the summer league, and the Mavs seem to like him. But it is a stretch to imagine him beating out more talented players to make the roster.
17) Ivan Johnson
Ivan was forced to develop a three-point shot out of nowhere in the summer league, and it was really awkward. I don’t expect him to make the roster, as Bernard James is a cheaper option as the emergency big and is well-liked in Dallas.
18) Gal Mekel
I confess that I don’t believe Mekel is an NBA-quality player. He doesn’t appear to be getting any better, and the Mavs would be better off to not waste a roster spot on him.