Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE
In basketball, chemistry is everything. When you adjust lineups due to injuries or extraneous reasons, players have to adapt to the change.
Sometimes, especially for players who love to shoot the ball, certain guys will flourish in a particular player's absence. In this Dirk-less Mavs' offense, we're seeing the same exact phenomena from the Mavericks' starters.
OJ Mayo, the former Memphis Grizzlies combo guard, has had back-to-back 30-point scoring affairs—both of which he shot above 50 percent.
Coming off the bench, former All-Star center Chris Kaman had 18 points and only missed one of his nine field goal attempts in the Mavericks' game against the Charlotte Bobcats. He also shot 80 percent in a recent win against the Portland Blazers—a game in which he scored 16 points and snagged six boards.
Starting point guard Darren Collison has looked incredibly solid—he is currently averaging about 17 points and nine assists per game.
However, a disappointing tendency early on, as far as starters go, is Elton Brand. He's only averaging about five points and five rebounds per game.
Against the Utah Jazz, (the Mavs' only loss so far this season) the Mavericks' starters were dominated on the boards. Jazz starting big men Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap combined for 29 boards—as much as the Dallas starters rebounded in total. Overall that game, the Mavs were out-rebounded by a margin of 21—a very significant difference.
Because Brand is not necessarily making a huge impact on the boards or scoring-wise, the Mavs certainly want him to step it up. Although it should be noted that the past two games (Mavs beat the Bobcats and Portland Trailblazers) head coach Rick Carlisle has split the minutes between Elton Brand and Chris Kaman.
Assuming the current production continues from both of them, we might see Brand's minutes reduced in favor of Kaman when Dirk comes back. Either way, the Mavs still have another dependable big man—starting center Brandan Wright. Brandan Wright's12 points per game and five boards are great numbers among the Mavericks' pool of big men.
There is no doubt that the Mavs are doing quite well as a team adapting to the change in chemistry, but if injuries begin to take a toll, they might miss Dirk even more.
Unfortunately, for their sake, the Mavericks will have to adapt to yet another absence in their starting line-up. Starting small forward Shawn Marion will be out for about at least the next couple of games due to a knee sprain he sustained in the Mavs recent game against the Blazers.
While Marion was healthy, he was averaging a solid eight points and nine boards per game—solid output from the three spot. So far, the overall supporting cast is adapting well, but only time will tell if they can sustain this collective success without Dirk.