Dallas Mavericks Training Camp Battles


Next week, the Dallas Mavericks open training camp as they set their sights on the 2015-16 season.

In the first part of our training camp series, I previewed the roster by breaking down the 20 players under contract into three different categories. With the mixture of veterans and partial-guaranteed contracts, training camp could provide some interesting decisions for the front office.

So with many questions surrounding the final makeup of the roster, training camp will provide some intriguing battles to keep an eye on…

The Battle at Center

Oct 25, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Denver Nuggets center JaVale McGee (34) dunks the ball against Chicago Bulls center Nazr Mohammed (48) during the first quarter at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

After the “starting center for the Clippers” drama, the Mavericks were left in desperation mode with trying to fill the starting center position with a depleted free agent field. With that being said, the front office could have done worse.

Some time after that, the Mavericks swung a trade for journeyman Zaza Pachulia, brought back Samuel Dalembert on a one year deal, and eventually signed JaVale McGee to a two-year deal with a team option on the second year. In a pair of partial guaranteed contracts, the Mavericks also added Jarrid Famous and Tunisian big man Salah Mejri to compete for center minutes.

If I had to guess, I would say the Mavericks will go into the season with three of these guys as part of the final 15 man roster. Will all three of the veteran centers entering training camp make the final roster and compete for the starting center spot? Will one of the partial guaranteed guys impress and beat out one of the veterans? Which JaVale McGee will show up?

This is a battle worth watching.

The Battle Behind Dirk

Mar 24, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Charlie Villanueva (3) celebrates making a three point shot against the San Antonio Spurs during the game at the American Airlines Center. The Mavericks defeated the Spurs 101-94. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Unless Carlisle shocks us all and brings Dirk Nowitzki off the bench this year, Dirk will be automatically slotted in as the starting power forward once again come opening night. But with the questions around limiting Dirk this year, who will get backup minutes behind him this year?

The most popular choice among Mavs fans is most likely the young Dwight Powell. After an impressive summer league and above average athleticism, Powell is the early favorite to get that job.

This offseason, the Mavericks also brought back veteran gunner Charlie Villanueva on a one year deal while also inking high flyer journeyman Jeremy Evans to a two-year deal. Some people have predicted that the Mavs front office might try to duplicate Al-Farouq Aminu‘s role with the versatility of Evans.

To add competition to the mix, the Mavericks also handed our partial guaranteed contracts to New York Knicks summer league standout Maurice Ndour and undrafted Arizona forward Brandon Ashley. During summer league, it was Ndour that gained high praise for his motor and scoring ability.

If I had to guess, I would say at least 2 (maybe 3) make the final roster. I also think that the Mavericks will utilize the small ball lineup and go with Chandler Parsons at the power forward spot when Dirk is taking his breaks. Will Powell separate himself in training camp and prove he is worth the minutes? Will one of the veterans show they are worthy of the task? Will one of the partial guaranteed guys impress so much that they earn a spot?

This is a battle worth watching.

The Battle for Backup Wing Minutes

Apr 15, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Utah Jazz forward Jeremy Evans (40) attempts to dunk the ball over Houston Rockets forward Terrence Jones (6) during the second quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Surprisingly, this could be the most interesting answer I am waiting on come training camp time. We all know that Matthews and Parsons will be locked into the wing positions in the starting lineup, but who will get the minutes off the bench behind Parsons?

Last year, the Mavs were spoiled with the impressive play of Aminu off the bench. He provided a legitimate option off the bench to fill in for Parsons and guard the opposing team’s best player.

As mentioned above, Jeremy Evans could be the option out of the gate to absorb that Aminu-type of role behind Parsons at the small forward spot. Another name is the Mavericks first round draft pick, Justin Anderson. With an impressive training camp, he could prove that he could be a legitimate 3-D guy for the Mavs this season.

Another option would center around how the Mavericks feel about their ability to play small ball. If that’s the case, we could see Wesley Matthews, and possibly John Jenkins, get some minutes at the small forward spot with or behind Parsons.

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If I had to guess, I would say the Mavericks will role into the season with 2 options behind Parsons at the small forward spot.

Can Jeremy Evans prove in training camp that he can fill the Aminu roll? Will first-rounder Justin Anderson prove he is worthy of big minutes in Carlisle’s rotation? Will the Mavericks play more small ball and use guards for these minutes? Will partial guaranteed Jamil Wilson battle in camp and prove he is deserving of these wing minutes?

This is a battle worth watching.

With many uncertains heading into training camp, we do know one thing for certain; there will be some much-needed battles for final roster spots.

Stay tuned to The Smoking Cuban as we post our final Training Camp installment next Monday when our staff predicts the final roster that will come out of training camp.

Next: Dallas Mavericks Training Camp Preview

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