Dallas Mavericks' Most and Least Improved Players of the Season

Ross Bentley@@imrossbentleySenior Analyst IDecember 21, 2012

Dallas Mavericks' Most and Least Improved Players of the Season

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    After tonight's loss to the Miami Heat, the Dallas Mavericks find themselves two games under .500 on the season sitting at 12-14.

    Dallas has been trying to simply stay competitive without Dirk Nowitzki in the lineup and with almost an entire roster's worth of new players.

    Some Dallas players have found their way in a Mavs uniform this season, helping this team gain some big victories in the season's first few months.

    Others, however, seem to be taking steps back and are doing more hurt to the team than help it this year.

    Here are two of the Mavericks' most improved players from last year and two who are regressing.

Most Improved: Dominique Jones

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    Make no mistake, Dominique Jones is still trying to find his niche at the NBA level.

    However, after two seasons of not making an impact at all for this Dallas team, "Dojo" is finally showing signs that he has what it takes to make it in the NBA.

    Even with Derek Fisher, Darren Collison and others ahead of him in the rotation, Jones is coming on as of late, even starting a few games this month for the Mavericks.

    Jones' numbers won't impress a casual fan, but for those who have been watching him play this year, the improvement is noticeable. 

    Jones has always been a top-notch defender, and even though he still doesn't shoot the ball well, he is beginning to come on as a passer.

    The former USF star is playing more point than he did the last two years, and this season he is averaging over three assists per game despite playing only 11.4 MPG. 

    If Jones can continue to improve his game and begin to calm down a little when he is running the point, he could be a solid backup point guard in the NBA.

Least Improved: Rodrigue Beaubois

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    When Delonte West was released before the season began, many expected Rodrigue Beaubois to be the clear backup to Darren Collison in the Mavs rotation.

    However, Beaubois has been so inconsistent that Dallas felt it necessary to go out and sign 38-year-old Derek Fisher instead of give Beaubois more minutes when Collison struggled.

    Beaubois averaged 7.1, 8.4 and 8.9 PPG in his first three seasons respectively, but this year he is averaging just a measly 2.9 in just over 11 minutes per game.

    Beaubois is shooting miserably, just over 30 percent from the field and 21 percent from three. He is also under two assists per game on average.

    If Beaubois doesn't shoot well and isn't keeping his teammates involved, there is little reason for Rick Carlisle to keep him in the rotation, which is why he is being passed by Dominique Jones, Derek Fisher and Dahntay Jones.

Most Improved: O.J. Mayo

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    When tasked with finding the Mavericks who were most improved this season, there was really only one obvious choice: O.J. Mayo.

    Mayo was the Mavericks' top free-agent signing this offseason, and he has not disappointed in a Dallas uniform one bit.

    Mayo has proven that given the opportunity, he can be a top-notch scorer in the NBA, and he definitely has to be getting some consideration for an All-Star spot.

    After coming over from Memphis where he was a sixth man for the last two years, Mayo is averaging over 20 points per-game, top 10 in the NBA.

    He is also shooting lights out at 48 percent on the year, showing that he is not just a player who scores a lot because he shoots a lot.

    Mayo has been able to basically carry the Mavericks in the half court, and is mostly the only reason they are anywhere close to a winning record this season thus far.

Least Improved: Elton Brand

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    Admittedly, injuries and age have played a large part in Elton Brand's decline this season, but it doesn't make it any less disappointing for Mavericks fans.

    Brand was expected to play a major role down low this year and make a formidable one-two punch in the low post with Chris Kaman.

    However, Brand has struggled and is having the worst season thus far of his NBA career.

    Brand is managing just 6.8 points and 21.9 minutes a game, both lows in his career. Brand is also shooting under 43 percent when he has managed to see the court.

    With Dirk coming back soon and Bernard James and Brandan Wright both young players who will push him in the rotation, if Brand doesn't start playing better, he could see those numbers drop even further as the season goes along.