Welcome to the second-ever “Power Ranking the Mavs.” The preseason is over, the roster is finally set, and the Mavs are headed to San Antonio to kick off the season against the champs. Who used the preseason to make an impression on the Smoking Cuban’s humble Mav ranker, and who underwhelmed?
1) Dirk Nowitzki
Last week: 1 (no change)
This was actually a harder decision than I expected, but Dirk has been plenty Dirk-like this preseason. When I heard that he had been tweaking his shot release, I was a bit skeptical, but Dirk’s quicker release has actually made his jumper a tiny amount deadlier, at least so far. Through the preseason, Dirk is second in points per game (just barely) and second in rebounds per game. He has hit half of his three-point shots so far. I expect that percentage will decrease some once we get into the full swing of the season, but Dirk has looked really good from behind the arc in his 4 preseason appearances.
2) Chandler Parsons
Last week: 3 (up 1 spot)
Parsons is almost certainly the Mavs’ best all-around player. He is leading the team in scoring and steals per game, and he is also fourth in rebounding and fifth in assists. My only complaint about Parsons is that he’s only shooting 31% from three so far, but it’s probably early to jump to conclusions. Parsons can do it all on offense, and his versatility really opens up options for his teammates as well. He looked especially good in the preseason finale, scoring 24 points against the Magic.
3) Monta Ellis
Last week: 4 (up 1 spot)
While Dirk and Parsons are neck-and-neck for the team lead in scoring, Monta is right behind them. It’ll be interesting to see which of those three end up leading the team in points this season. Monta will look to have it all again this season, but I gave CP the edge this week due to his versatility. Monta missed a couple of preseason games due to a minor injury, but he looked a speedy and dangerous as ever as the Mavs closed out the preseason in Orlando. He and Parsons could also vie for the team lead in steals this season.
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4) Tyson Chandler
Last week: 2 (down 2 spots)
Tyson fell 2 spots largely because Monta and Parsons have looked so good. Chandler is still the lynchpin of the Mavs defense. An interesting development going forward is just how much Chandler will be able to feed off of the creativity of Monta and Parsons when those two drive and dish. Expect plenty of dunks from Tyson this season.
5) Al-Farouq Aminu
Last week: 9 (up 4 spots)
Al-Farouq Aminu has been the surprise of the preseason. Dude just gets rebounds. Consistently. Which is something the Mavericks desperately need. Talk all you want about defense, but an inability to get rebounds has arguably been the Mavs’ biggest weakness the past few seasons. Aminu is leading the team in rebounding, plays great defense, and appears to have improved his three-point shot. Right now, Aminu looks like the Mavs’ best bench player, and Rick Carlisle can’t stop gushing about him.
6) Jameer Nelson
Last week: 7 (up 1 spot)
I really thought the offense would have some trouble replacing Jose Calderon’s elite shooting and control of the offense. I have been impressed with Jameer filling this role. Obviously having two small guards who don’t really play defense isn’t ideal, but Nelson is great for the offense. He seems to just have a knack for getting the ball to his teammates right where they want it.
7) Devin Harris
Last week: 6 (down 1 spot)
Harris has been consistently good, but not great, this preseason. I think he went down a spot mostly just because I was impressed with some of the Mavs newer players (in particular Aminu). I still expect Harris to be the most important player off the bench.
8) Brandan Wright
Last week: 5 (down 3 spots)
Same story with Wright. With Greg Smith looking less than spectacular this preseason, it is even more important that Wright play a big role off the bench for the Mavs. Hopefully he benefits from having good defensive players around him like Aminu, Crowder, and Harris. Wright is an offensive dynamo, but hopefully a more defense-oriented bench will cover up his deficiencies on that end.
9) Richard Jefferson
Last week: 8 (down 1 spot)
At times this preseason, Jefferson has looked several years younger than his 34 years. He looked especially rejuvenated against the Grizzlies last week, throwing down a couple of high-flying slams. Jefferson seems like he will be a fine replacement for Vince Carter off the bench. He only goes down a spot because Aminu shot up the rankings.
10) Jae Crowder
Last week: 10 (no change)
Jae Crowder is perhaps the player most threatened by how awesome Aminu is playing. Aminu is basically a bigger, more athletic version of Crowder who is also waay better at rebounding. There is some thought that because Crowder can play more of a 2/3 hybrid while Aminu is more of a 3/4m the two can coexist. We’ll see, but whichever one of them can develop a consistent three-point shot will should have a clear advantage in getting playing time.
11) Gal Mekel
Last week: 18 (up 7 spots)
I admit it: I might have been wrong about Mekel. I’m not saying he is good, but he may actually be a quasi-rotation player in the NBA. He has looked very good against other teams’ bench units this preseason. With Felton out due to injury and suspension, Mekel should get some decent playing time in the next week or two. If he could ever learn how to shoot, he might actually be an NBA player.
12) Charlie Villanueva
Last week: 13 (up 1 spot)
Disclaimer: I don’t like Charlie V. I am terrified he will turn into Lamar Odom part 2 in the locker room, eventually. But he played well enough to make the roster. I hope there’s not really any reason to play him much this season, but he is a quality three-point shooter to bring off the bench in situations. However, if he doesn’t stop chucking shots indiscriminately, he will end up in Rick Carlisle’s doghouse very quickly.
13) Greg Smith
Last week: 12 (down 1 spot)
Disclaimer: I really like Greg Smith. But he has been underwhelming this preseason. Despite some flashes of potential and really good per-36 stats, Smith just seems to struggle to stay out of foul trouble. This will be a huge problem if anything happens to Tyson Chandler or Brandan Wright.
14) Ricky Ledo
Last week: 15 (up 1 spot)
Austin and I are Ledo’s biggest fan. It is not uncommon for me to refer to him (only half jokingly) as the future MVP. But Ledo has looked really bad this preseason. The only reason he isn’t in last place is that we haven’t seen anything from Felton yet. Ledo very clearly needs another year of seasoning in the D-League.
15) Raymond Felton
Last week: 11 (down 4 spots)
Everyone’s favorite punching bag spent the preseason on the bench thanks to injury. Don’t expect him to go anywhere in these rankings until he sees the court and actually shows he can still play basketball. Unless someone else has an exceptionally terrible week. I can’t think of a worse punishment for playing poorly than being placed behind Ray Felton in a power ranking.