The Dallas Mavericks’ rotation is set for the 2012-13 season. And while this isn’t the roster they’d hoped for, it’s not as bad as the one they could have had.
The addition of veteran big men Elton Brand and Chris Kaman will go a long way toward replacing the toughness they lost with Tyson Chandler’s departure.
Newly signed shooting guard OJ Mayo could provide the offensive firepower this roster has sorely lacked.
And returning role players Shawn Marion, Vince Carter and Rodrigue Beaubois could be called on to pick up the slack in the absence of team leaders Jason Terry (BOS) and Jason Kidd (NYK).
How the stew of new and old comes together remains to be seen, but here's whats likely in store for the Mavericks’ key rotation players.
Dirk’s 2012-13 campaign has a lot going for it.
He’s had a summer without rigorous basketball activity.
He was recently married which, if nothing else, takes the stress of getting married off his shoulders.
And he’s probably hungry after the 2011-12 Dallas Mavericks were swept out of the playoffs by a team they’d beaten in six games a year earlier.
Which is all good, because the Mavs are dead in the water if Nowitzki stumbles out of the gates like he did last season. In January—the first full month of the strike-shortened season—Nowitzki averaged a mere 15.1 PPG, 5.8 RPG and 44.1 percent field goal shooting (via Yahoo! Sports).
He’s unlikely to repeat those numbers. But he’ll have to clear them by a large margin if the Mavericks hope to establish themselves as a playoff team in the West.
Kaman is a starting center again. And, by the numbers, he should’ve always been. Consider per 36 minute stats over the last three seasons:
It’s hard to say why he fell out of favor with coach Monty Williams in New Orleans, but the Mavericks have every reason to believe that Kaman can produce at a high level.
And that production will come not a moment too soon. With Dwight Howard all but traded to Los Angeles, big-man ball is back in the West.
What you see is what you get with Shawn Marion. For better or for worse.
He’s a great defender, capable of bodying up small forwards and lighter power forwards. His intangibles are off the charts, but he was better suited to playing on the 2011-12 Mavs team, which didn’t lack offensive firepower.
The question will be whether the Mavericks have enough scoring to allow Marion to play his game. He’s at his best when he’s allowed to thrive as an opportunist on offense.
Carter’s productivity took a nose-dive last season, when he averaged just 10.1 PPG and 41.1 percent from the field (via Yahoo! Sports). Both were career lows, and it’s fair to wonder whether the 35-year-old shooting guard will sink lower yet.
His athleticism is gone, his shot selection spotty as ever, and Carter, who’s suffered motivation issues his entire career, could check out if the Mavs stumble early.
Look for Vince to play somewhere in the neighborhood of 28 minutes per game, despite Dallas’ relatively thin backcourt.
For a Dallas team already looking toward the 2013 free-agent class, Darren Collison could be a saving grace.
As I’ve written before, he’s a pick-and-roll point guard through and through, and should thrive with a Mavs team that will live or die in the half court game.
His one liability is his shot. By the numbers he’s a decent three-point shooter (36.3 career three-point percentage), but anyone who’s watched him knows he’s more comfortable creating off the dribble.
On a team that features Marion and Carter on the wings, Collison will have to do more than his share to spread the floor for Dirk and Kaman.
Brand can still play, and he’s a better fit for Dallas’ roster than he was Philadelphia’s.
For one, the Mavericks have no delusions about being a transition team. Brand will blend seamlessly with a squad that has more guile than youth and athleticism.
His game also complements Dirk’s in that he can be a presence in the paint on defense (2.0 blocks per 36 minutes in 2011-12) and step outside the paint on offense (45.6 percent shooting on jumpers 10-15 feet out).
Provided he can stay healthy, Brand will have a role—possibly a very important one if the Mavericks have a lengthy playoff run in them.
Analysts are treating next season as a “now or never” moment for Mayo. But if they’re expecting him to show the promise that he did as a highly-touted prep star, we can kill the suspense—the answer is “never”.
That said, there are things Mayo can do on this Mavericks team to establish himself as a starting-caliber contributor.
He can improve his efficiency: Mayo has had true shooting percentages of .499 and .531 in the last two seasons, respectively (via Basketball Reference).
He can become a better decision-maker in the pick-and-roll.
In a nutshell, he can use his time off the bench to do more than look for his own ill-advised shots.
He has it in him, and the Mavericks could be the team to bring it out. Erstwhile Maverick Jose Juan Barea is a testament to what head coach Rick Carlisle can do with a non-traditional scoring threat.
Speaking of now or never, this may be the Mavericks’ last go ‘round with 6'2' combo guard Rodrigue Beaubois.
Which would be unfortunate. He has an incredible potential as a scorer, a facilitator and a defender.
But his confidence is about thimble deep, and Carlisle has lost faith in his development. Lest we forget, the NBA has almost infinite patience for big-man projects, but guards are shown the proverbial door if they don’t show consistent production in the first few years.
Unless Beaubois shows a remarkable turnaround, the Mavericks will dangle him in trades, once again, or simply let his rookie contract expire.
The Mavericks need West’s skill set now more than ever.
He’s one of the league’s few “combo guards” for whom the moniker isn’t a slight; West plays both the point guard and shooting guard positions more than adequately.
He’s also a tough defender, which Dallas will sorely need in 2012-13; the Mavericks lack the scoring to beat teams with offensive prowess alone.
But skills are only part of the Delonte West package. His mental health is another and often bigger part. Here’s hoping West is in a position to make a solid contribution this season. For the team’s sake but more importantly his own.