Do the Mavericks Have Enough Two-Way Players to Compete?


Despite winning 50 games for the first time in four seasons in 2014-15 the Dallas Mavericks had plenty of problems with the roster. There were the obvious issues with Rajon Rondo fitting in and the lack of front court depth that led to an almost season-long courting of grizzled free agent veteran Jermaine O’Neal, but most of the Mavericks’ troubles could be attributed to the fact that the roster featured few, if any, legitimate “two-way” players.

Think about it. Dirk Nowitzki will be hitting jumpers until he decides to hang ’em up, but he was never a spectacular defender and at 36-years old really started to show issues with his mobility. A perfect example would be the Houston Rockets mercilessly attacking him in the pick-and-roll during the two teams’ first round playoff matchup.

Chandler Parsons and Monta Ellis were effective offensive players last year, but nobody has ever accused them of being a force on the defensive end.

Tyson Chandler was still one of the better defenders in the league last year, and his space-creating presence on offense did count for something but it’s not like the Mavericks could throw it down to him on the block if they needed a bucket. It’s fair to say that he hasn’t earned over $135 million in his 14 years in the league for his 8.8 points per game.

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Dallas has remedied some of those problems heading into the new season. Rondo is Sacramento’s headache now, and the Mavericks had enough big men at training camp to form an army.

And with the additions they’ve made elsewhere chances are they’ll remain one of the highest scoring teams in the league (105.2 ppg in ’14-15). But do they have enough two-way players to get back into the postseason?

Wesley Matthews will be a huge boost to the Mavericks’ perimeter defense if he returns anywhere close to his pre-Achilles injury form, and has proven himself to be one of the league’s premier marksmen when healthy. But as we look down the rest of the roster the problems of yesteryear begin to emerge.

Dirk’s lateral movement remains a hinderance. Deron Williams will likely struggle to even duplicate Rondo’s mediocre defense. The bench is still chock full of shooters that don’t do a whole lot else. And at the risk of sounding like the world’s biggest pessimist, with no Chandler or Al-Farouq Aminu the Mavericks could actually be worse defensively and on the boards than last year when they finished 25th and 23rd in those areas respectively.

A lot of things can change, though. Parsons has the physical tools to be an above average defender and as he’s still developing as a player could get there this season if he comes back healthy. A rejuvenated Williams could end up guarding his position adequately, JaVale McGee could eventually fill Chandler’s shoes as rim protector and rebounder, and rookie Justin Anderson might be able to contribute enough on that end immediately to make a difference.

Only time will tell if any of those scenarios play out, but one thing is for sure: the league’s third best offense was barely enough to get the Mavericks into the playoffs last season and even if they’re able to replicate that kind of success on offense this season there isn’t a whole lot of room for error without their two best defenders from a year ago and their only true two-way player still recovering from a major injury.

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