Dallas Mavericks need one more piece


The Dallas Mavericks are already making plenty of noise in the NBA. They brought in Tyson Chandler, Chandler Parsons, Jameer Nelson, and others to place around Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis. The results have been electrifying to say the least.

The team is 3-1, with the lone loss coming at the hand of the San Antonio Spurs, and are scorching the nets at a potentially record pace.

Coming into the season, we all knew the Mavs would put up points. But I’ll even admit  that I’m surprised that the offense has clicked this fast.

I’ll let the smart guys talk about the Mavs’ offense.

More from The Smoking Cuban

***You can read more about the Mavs’ record offense from Hal Brown‘s Statsketball via MavsMoneyBall. Matt Moore of CBS Sports also talks about the Mavs’ “Hi Tech O“. ***

The questions on the defensive end are still looming and rightfully so. Last season the Mavs were one of the worst defenses in the league. Outside of adding Tyson Chandler and Al-Farouq Aminu, the team hasn’t exactly solved that problem.

Speaking of Tyson Chandler. He hasn’t been brought back to just start at center; he’s being entrusted to turn a poor Mavs’s D into a respectable one. With so much put on Chandler’s shoulders, what happens when he’s not on the court?

This team has drawn plenty of comparisons to the 2011 squad. While I’d easily suggest that the starting wings aren’t the defenders the 2011 groups had with Jason Kidd, DeShawn Stevenson, and Shawn Marion, there’s another BIG piece that was very valuable and differentiate the teams.

Brendan Haywood.

Okay, let’s ignore the fact that he stunk it up after signing that extension and taking over the starting center spot after Chandler left. Let’s also forget that the Mavs are still paying him (Thank God for the amnesty provision!).

During the 2011 season, Haywood was everything the Mavs needed behind Chandler. While he wasn’t pretty to see on the offensive end, he protected the rim and rebounded.

More importantly, he was the second “anchor” to the team. The team didn’t exactly miss a beat on that end when he was on the court.

During the 2010-2011 season, Chandler had a defensive rating of 102 (According to Basketball-Reference). Haywood was right there with him with a 103 rating. Both centers tallied a 105 D-rating during the Championship run. While the offensive did dip, Haywood’s ability to maintain the Mavericks’ defense played vital.

To today’s Mavs. Brandan Wright and Greg Smith occupy the spot behind Chandler. We all know what Wright offers on the offensive end. Through four games, he’s missed just TWO attemptsand is shooting a ridiculous 88.9% from the floor. But as gifted as he is on that end, he doesn’t exactly scream defense and rebounding. He’s just too slender and easily outmuscled to constantly battle down low.

Samuel Dalembert had a D-rating of 105 for the Mavs last season. Wright’s 107 wasn’t too far off, but we can’t overlook that Rick Carlisle would turn to the 6’7″ DeJuan Blair to battle against bigger bodies; Blair also had a 105 rating on the defensive end.

Smith has yet to really make an impact for the team. He’s tallied just five minutes in two games to this point. But at a generous 6’10” and notorious for foul trouble, Smith doesn’t seem to be the consistent defensive anchor behind Chandler.

The Mavs could get away with either Wright or Smith for stretches, especially against teams lacking a post scorer but what about the teams that do?

Tim Duncan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin, David Lee, Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, Serge Ibaka, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousin, and Dwight Howard all occupy the West and will test the Mavs ability to defend down low.

So, if Chandler is foul plagued or (knock on wood) gets injured, what will the Mavs do? Who will be counted on to anchor the middle?

The in house options aren’t the most appealing to relieve Chandler, and sadly seven footers don’t exactly fall on a team’s laps everyday.

The Mavs might have to get creative in the trade market to address this issue or find a hidden gem in free agency or the D-league.

Emeka Okafor is still recovering from a neck injury but could be the exact piece the Mavs need. Even Greg Oden is somewhere out there and could be a decent option for spurs here and there.

If the Mavs can find a big defensive center to platoon with Wright’s offense and Smith’s grit, they may be able to matchup with any team and style on the court.

Yes, the Mavs have other needs. It would be great for this team to find guards who can defend, but the sad reality is thats an issue that will forever stick with the Mavs.

So the next best thing to do is find someone else who can help clean up the mess the perimeter leaves behind.