Retooling Results in Balanced Composition for Mavericks Bench


Dallas Mavericks: Bench remodel results in terrific blend of youth and experience

Dirk Nowitzki and Chandler Parsons are the lone remnants of last year’s starting five, but the Dallas Mavericks backups experienced quite a makeover themselves this summer. Al-Farouq Aminu, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Richard Jefferson are gone, along with the lesser used Greg Smith and Bernard James. We’ve gotten a good look at their replacements in five, nearly starter-less preseason games, enough to see that Dallas has struck a nice balance with the composition of what will eventually become the new-ish second unit.

The veterans, whether still under contract or brought back as free agents this summer, have all spent time in Dallas already, know the ins and outs of the system, and will be able to provide a steadying presence when things inevitably break down throughout the season. Any GM will tell you that it’s really valuable to have a familiar, experienced guard to run the show with the rest of the subs, and the Mavericks have three in J.J. Barea, Devin Harris, and Raymond Felton.

Then of course there’s Charlie Villanueva, and Samuel Dalembert if he ends up making the roster.

To complement the vets the Mavericks have a platoon of young, versatile athletes with varying skill sets. 2015 first round selection Justin Anderson has struggled a bit with his touch from outside during preseason play but that’ll improve as he becomes more comfortable.

Until then he’ll make his mark defensively and with his athleticism. We got shades of Monta Ellis with this 360-degree lay-in against the Cavaliers, and a little Michael Finley with this powerful one-handed slam on Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka:

There’s fourth-year sharpshooter John Jenkins, too. Though the word “athlete” might not spring to mind when Jenkins is mentioned, he’s forcefully injected himself into the competition for minutes among the backups by averaging more than 20 points a game through five preseason contests. If he keeps that up Rick Carlisle will have to find ways to get him onto the court, even after Wesley Matthews makes his Mavericks debut.

And the bench wouldn’t be complete without some high-flying big men. Now, I’m classifying Jeremy Evans and JaVale McGee as young guys here even though both of them have been in the league for some time. I’ll justify that by noting that McGee is only 27 and his 382 career appearances translates to just over four and a half 82-game seasons.

Evans, drafted two years after McGee in 2010, is actually a bit older. But he’s played fewer than 2,500 minutes in his five-season career and is clearly still developing as a basketball player. For now he’s the type of versatile defender every team needs on the bench.

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Second-year forward Dwight Powell fits the same type of mold, only with a little less rim protection and a little more touch on his jumper.

Calling the 29-year old Salah Mejri a youngster would be even more of a stretch than Evans or McGee, but he is an NBA rookie and his fast-twitch muscles do appear to be firing just fine. The Tunisian big man isn’t a lock to make the roster but he has shown quite a bit of promise in his three appearances this preseason and his chances look good at the moment.

The Mavericks have set themselves up nicely with this blend of experience and exuberance, acumen and ardor. The younger crowd accompanies the veteran group well, and vice versa. Devin Harris already appears to have more of a rapport with Evans than he ever did with Amar’e Stoudemire, for example. This type of synergy should help Carlisle work match ups and will hopefully aid in keeping the team afloat and in the hunt for the playoffs until everyone gets healthy.

Basically the Mavericks bench is Just For Men: Touch of Gray.

Next: Dallas Mavericks: Preseason Awards Predictions

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