During the Dallas Mavericks media day before the season, Rick Carlisle said the starting five would be fluid and based on matchups. Will that continue to be the case throughout the entire season?
As the old saying goes “There’s more than one way to skin a cat”. That has been very evident through the Dallas Mavericks first four games as the team has gone 3-1 using a different starting lineup for each matchup. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as Rick Carlisle pretty much said that there would be some experimentation and matchup based lineups used.
At some point, however, it would be good for the Mavs to have a more clear cut first unit and second unit. This would make it easier to grow camaraderie as a starting unit and a bench unit which could be good, especially considering how good the bench was in the Mavs most recent victory.
There are two obvious starters on the Mavs team with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. Aside from those two, Carlisle has been rotating the other three starting spots every game. In game one, the Mavs came out with Delon Wright, Courtney Lee and Maxi Kleber around the two young stars. In game two, it was Lee, Jalen Brunson and Dorian Finney-Smith. For game three, Dallas started Brunson, Wright and Kleber and for game four they went with Dorian, Seth Curry, and Dwight Powell.
We have yet to see a starting lineup with Tim Hardaway Jr. or Justin Jackson, but would not be surprised at all if they do crack the starting unit. J.J. Barea is another option who may get thrown in for an occasional start. Dallas is full of versatile players that are young and ready for whatever role they get.
Despite that, I still think the Mavs should have a starting unit that they can use in any given situation. That unit should be Luka, Wright, Dorian, Porzingis and Powell. With those five, the Mavs have a good mix of offense and defense and should be able to go toe-to-toe with any starting unit in the league.
This leaves the Mavericks’ second unit as Brunson, Seth, Hardaway, Jackson and Kleber. This unit would also be good defensively, could be a run-and-gun style offense and does not really have a weak link, which makes them even more impressive. Add that to the fact that they still have Barea, Boban Marjanovic and Ryan Broekhoff on the bench and you can see that depth is not an issue for the Mavs.
I don’t think that Carlisle will ever decide fully on a consistent starting unit this year. There are still plenty of games to be played, but he seems content choosing the players he feels matchup the best instead of going with a starting unit built on continuity. Hopefully this approach works.
There will be another chance for the Mavs to roll out their 5th different lineup tomorrow, November 1, as they take on the Los Angeles Lakers in a late home game. The game will start late at 8:30 central time because it is going to be televised on ESPN. Be sure to tune in.