Mavericks basketball is officially back! And though a large chunk of the roster sat out Dallas’ first tune up game of the 2015-16 NBA season against the Denver Nuggets, a 96-86 loss, we did learn a few things.
Now the Mavericks will try to build on those takeaways when they face the division rival Houston Rockets on Wednesday night. Here are 3 specific players to watch.
Oct 6, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks forwardCharlie Villanueva
(3) shoots past Denver Nuggets forwardKenneth Faried
(35) during the first quarter at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Charlie Villanueva was a pleasant surprise last year in his first season with the Mavericks, hitting 83 three-pointers in 64 appearances as a spark plug off the pine. But part of what held him back from becoming more of a staple in the rotation was his lackluster work on the glass.
It was a different story against Denver on Tuesday, with Villanueva showing more of an effort on the boards at both ends. His 18 points were great, but what really earned him Player of the Game honors was his eight rebounds in 23 minutes.
From our own Kohl Rast:
"…the most impressive part of Charlie V’s performance tonight was his attacking of the glass on both the offensive and defensive end of the floor. Eight rebounds may not sound like a lot for a guy that is 6’11” but seeing him play today as opposed to his performance last year, we may see Charlie solidifying his spot in the Mavericks rotation."
We’ll see if Charlie V. can keep up the good work against a talented Houston front court and strengthen his case for substantial playing time behind Dirk Nowitzki.
Oct 6, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Denver Nuggets guardEmmanuel Mudiay
(0) drives to the basket as Dallas Mavericks guardJohn Jenkins
(12) and forward Maurice Daly Ndour (10) defend during the second half at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Keep an eye on Maurice Ndour, the versatile 6’9″ forward who actually spent some time at point guard during training camp. He’s long and athletic, joining Jeremy Evans as the most likely candidates to fill the hole created when Al-Farouq Aminu bolted to Portland.
A lot has been made about Evans’ green light from outside, but Ndour can stretch the floor, too.
He hit two of five from downtown on the evening. If he can continue to space the floor and do the little things necessary of a role player there’s a great chance Ndour will make the cut for the Mavericks, a team desperate for depth on the wing. His job interview continues against Houston.
Sep 28, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard John Jenkins (12) poses for a photo during Media Day at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
For many Mavericks fans, Tuesday’s game against the Nuggets was their first real impression of new shooting guard John Jenkins. He’s entering his fourth year in the league, but the former first round pick had trouble staying healthy and cracking the rotation for the Atlanta Hawks in his first three seasons.
He got off to a slow start against Denver but turned it on in the fourth quarter as the Mavericks attempted to muster one final comeback. It didn’t happen, but Jenkins scored 10 of his 16 points in the final frame and hit both of his three-point attempts for the quarter.
With Wesley Matthews, Chandler Parsons, and Deron Williams all working their way back from injury this is a good opportunity for Jenkins to make a name for himself in Dallas and earn himself consistent playing time.
He’ll need to cut down the turnovers (7) but if he can carry the hot shooting from yesterday’s fourth quarter into the rest of the preseason and beyond Jenkins could be a valuable sniper off the bench. See if he can keep it going against Houston.
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