Examining the Dallas Mavericks' Backcourt and Who Should Play the Most Minutes
With seven of the 15 players on the current roster positioned to compete for playing time at the guard positions, the Dallas Mavericks have some exciting in-house moves to make to rectify a long-standing complacency of letting older guards chase around the NBA's young guns.
Darren Collison and OJ Mayo should get the bulk of the starter minutes. But behind them, a roster full of Delonte West and a bunch of unproven youngsters are vying for playing time on a roster that's expected to do better than last year's.
Darren Collison, Rodrigue Beaubois, Delonte West, Dominique Jones, OJ Mayo (???)
OJ Mayo, Vince Carter, Dahntay Jones, Rodrigue Beaubois, Dominique Jones, Jared Cunningham
If you look at that setup, the scary thing is that only Collison, Jones and Carter are locked in to only playing one position. We probably won't see West return to a shooting guard role that he thrived in last year, and Dallas is also high on Cunningham's potential with the ball in his hands.
Take Collison and Mayo off the table. Those two should both be in the 25-32 minute range from night to night, depending on matchups and the flow of the game.
If I'm Rick Carlisle, I'd love to see Delonte West in the original role of reserve point guard that he was supposed to carry out in his first season in Dallas. Injuries and inconsistency forced him out of that role, and he became a starter and defensive presence since Jason Kidd struggled against smaller guards.
Behind both of those guys, look for one of the young guys, Jones or Cunningham, to seize a couple minutes here and there. As badly as OJ might want to play point guard, the Mavericks signed him to score the ball and be a complementary piece on offense to Dirk Nowitzki, not to experiment with his passing and playmaking potential.
At shooting guard, Mayo is there to stay. He averaged nice numbers during his first two seasons as a starter in Memphis, but saw a dip as a reserve the last two seasons. Dallas is counting on his fifth year being more reminiscent of his rookie and sophomore campaigns since he will return to the starting lineup.
Behind him, it gets murky. West is likely a point guard only. I don't see Cunningham seizing that role right away. Rodrigue Beaubois and Dominique Jones have both shown flashes of being really good players, but it never seems they can do it for games at a time.
Newcomer Dahntay Jones, a potential Deshawn Stevenson-like player on defense and from the three point line, could make a case for more time when a stronger defensive wing presence is needed.
What could potentially happen—and this is a direct testament to my feelings about second-round draft pick Jae Crowder—is that Carter could take more minutes at guard if Crowder emerges as a true option to rest Shawn Marion at small forward.
How comfortable are you with Dallas' current guards?
So, here's a very preliminary look at what the rotation could look like when the season is getting underway in early November.
I hate to say it, because I like the potential of some of these young guys more than sticking with Vince Carter, but Rick Carlisle has a history of letting his rookies take lumps. I think Cunningham falls into this category. Roddy B and DoJo still fall in this category.
Even though that rotation looks pretty solid, plenty of questions remain.
Is it time for Roddy B to finally stake his claim as a key contributor, especially since logjam guards Jason Terry and Jason Kidd are gone?
Can Dominique Jones contribute? Will Jared Cunningham come in and make both Beaubois and Jones irrelevant? What kind of guard are the Mavericks getting in Collison, the one from his rookie year, or the one who was benched in favor of new 5-year contract holder George Hill?
Is OJ Mayo a star or a scapegoat?
Bottom line—it's all about wins at this point in Dallas, and for one reason: It's time to chase championships for Dirk. Dallas is looking for the best supporting cast to get Nowitzki another shot at a title before he loses a step and needs more help.
Acquisitions Collison and Mayo are here to shine. Behind them, it's a jumbled mess, and if you're a fan of the Mavericks, you likely wouldn't have it any other way.
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