Dallas Mavericks: Blessings in Disguise

By Isaac Harris
Apr 8, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) high fives guard Justin Anderson (1) during the first half against the Memphis Grizzlies at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 8, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) high fives guard Justin Anderson (1) during the first half against the Memphis Grizzlies at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

One of the biggest storylines surrounding the Dallas Mavericks season is the amount of injuries that have taken place, but much like anything, you can still find positives within them.

First off, I want to make something very clear. No way am I saying these injuries are a good thing or something that was desired by fans. I think any reasonable basketball fan would agree that the Dallas Mavericks would be a way better team without the plethora of injuries that have taken place. This is rather a piece about finding positives in the midst of many negatives. Finding the blessings in disguise.

After Chandler Parsons signed his 3 year deal, the bar was set high for the expectations in Dallas. Now, two years later, Parsons has finished the season again in street clothes after suffering his second season ending knee injury. Arguably the best overall player on the Mavericks, Parsons’ absence from the team is felt on all different levels.

Deron Williams came over after being bought out in Brooklyn to the be the Mavs starting point guard. After going through a couple of injury riddle seasons, Williams looked to put that behind him and prove to everyone that he isn’t done yet. Williams missed almost 20 games this season with the more recent hernia injury that sidelined him for some of the last weeks of the season. Even in Game 2 at OKC, Williams was notably limping and nowhere near 100% healthy.

The waiver wire allowed David Lee to be bought out in Boston only to find his way to Dallas mid-season. Lee stepped in right away where he logged valuable minutes at both the backup power forward and center spots. Carlisle made him an important part of the rotation up until the last game of the season where he tore is plantar fascia in his heel. Lee was unable to play in the first two games of the playoffs and his status is unknown for the rest of the playoffs.

Then there is J.J. Barea. Barea stepped in for the injured Williams in the last couple weeks of the season and put the Mavs on his little shoulders. He won his first ever Western Conference Player of the Week and helped clinch a spot in the playoffs for Dallas. During the last week of the season, Barea strained his right groin. After playing half of Game 1, Barea found himself sitting out of Game 2 for that same groin injury.

So what are the blessings disguised behind all of these injuries?

There is two lenses that fans can look through when looking at their Dallas Mavericks’ this season. The first lens is your ultimate fan hood lens where you think the Mavs are the best team in the league and will win the title this season. The second lens, and the most common/realistic lens, is the one that realizes that even with a fully healthy roster (especially not now) the Mavs couldn’t be considered in the same conversations with teams like the Warriors, Spurs, and Cavaliers. So I’m operating behind the second lens right now.

When Parsons went down for the season, it was heartbreaking to all, but it cleared the path for first round pick Justin Anderson to launch himself into the starting lineup. As we all remember, when Carlisle inserted Anderson into the starting unit late in the season, the Mavs won six straight.

With Carlisle having a reputation of not playing rookies very much, it has taken these sets of injuries for the youngster to get his chance on the floor and show Dallas a glimpse of what he can offer. If the Mavs are not winning a title this year, why not see what the kid has?

Going a step farther, the amount of playing time he has received during a playoff push at the end of the season and now valuable playoff minutes against Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, is minutes that can contribute heavily to his progression as a player. You could look back a couple of years from now and credit these injuries to making Anderson the player he is.

Then we look at the situation with Deron Williams. His injury situation hasn’t opened the door for a youngster on the wing, but it could benefit the Mavs financially come this summer. With Williams looking to find a portion of his old self earlier in the year, he looked to be headed for a summer pay raise that would make him opt out of his contract and test the waters.

Now Williams’ future is a little murky on the financial market. He seems like a perfect fit in Dallas with Carlisle and his recent injury struggles could allow Dallas to bring him back at a reasonable cost this summer. If Williams does indeed opt out, a bigger pay raise he seemed to be headed for might not be the likely outcome now.

On the David Lee side of the story, we see another rookie benefiting from the veteran’s absence; Salah Mejri. After being signed over the summer to a 3 year partial guaranteed contract, Mejri beat out Samuel Dalembert for a final roster spot where he found minutes sparingly throughout the season.

More from The Smoking Cuban

After beating out JaVale McGee for backup minutes, Mejri then had to catch the leftover minutes behind Lee after he was brought in from Boston midseason. But after Lee suffered his end of season heel injury, Mejri has found himself starting both playoff games and logging the majority of minutes at the center position. Plus, like J.J. Barea, the Mavs know what they are getting from David Lee as a player.

So if the Mavs aren’t winning a title this year, why not make the best of it and try to develop what you have in the rookies? So before you get too negative about all these injuries racking up, think about the positives that have come from it.

Rookie’s Justin Anderson and Salah Mejri have used the increase in minutes to show the Mavericks that they have some quality young players for once that can contribute for the next couple of years. Deron’s injury could give the Mavs the inside track on bringing him back on a really cheap contract, something I think we would all want.

There are diamonds, you just have to search for them in the rough.