Six weeks into the 2013-14 NBA regular season, the Dallas Mavericks are 12-8. In turn, the quarter-mark of this season has fans and analysts across the country evaluating Rick Carlisle's team with a close eye.
As the Mavericks begin to carve out a team identity, every Dallas player will be placed in the spotlight. Team weaknesses will be maximized as the rumor mill runs rampant with potential trade scenarios, and rotation adjustments will be something closer to permanency.
The question is, how has every active Mavericks player performed thus far?
Wayne Ellington should have a bigger role within the Mavericks' offense due to his status as a sharpshooter. Instead, Ellington's playing time has been as inconsistent as any player on the roster.
Until he sees the court more often, it'll remain difficult to offer up an accurate evaluation of Ellington.
Bernard James is a fun player to watch. While his opportunities may be scarce, he's an aggressive defender whose effort is rarely questioned.
With Dalembert and Blair playing well, it's unlikely that James will see the floor very often, although an injury could always change that.
Ricky Ledo was one of the internet basketball community's favorite prospects. He's a highlight reel waiting to happen with tight handles, a gorgeous jumper and a knack for finishing in the paint.
After spending a full year away from competitive basketball, however, it has become clear that Ledo needs more experience before he can live up to his potential.
Position: Point Guard
2013-14 Season Averages: 7.97 PER, 12.4 MPG, 3.6 PPG, 2.4 APG, 1.0 RPG
Gal Mekel displayed promise, but that's a distant memory. He had played well leading up to the regular season, and with Devin Harris and Shane Larkin both battling injuries, the door was open for him to shine.
However, outside of a few performances, Mekel hasn't done much to impress. His minutes continue to fluctuate and once Larkin and Harris reach full strength, it's unlikely that he'll see much playing time.
Shooting 39.0 percent from the field and 21.4 percent from three-point territory is a great way to disappoint.
Position: Point Guard
2013-14 Season Averages: 5.39 PER, 12.2 MPG, 2.9 PPG, 1.7 APG, 1.0 RPG, 1.2 SPG
Shane Larkin is an undersized rookie who is coming off of a leg-related injury. Considering all of those factors, it's to be expected that he's going to struggle early in his career.
Larkin's biggest issue right now is that he hasn't adjusted to the pace of the NBA. He's always looking to make a play, and while that is admirable, it's also a dangerous trait that results in sloppy mistakes.
Larkin is flashing the defensive potential that makes him such a special player. He's averaging 1.2 steals in 12.2 minutes and his activity in the passing lanes is highly beneficial for a team that needs transition scoring opportunities.
It'll be a long first season, but Larkin will end up having a fine career.
Experience: Second season
2013-14 Season Averages: 12.43 PER, 16.8 MPG, 5.9 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 1.0 APG
Jae Crowder is a skilled player who can contribute on both ends of the floor. He handles the ball well, shoots the three at a strong clip, can crash the boards and is a capable facilitator.
In 2013-14, Crowder has continued to make strides towards discovering his game. The tools are in place for him to be a quality player, but the output just hasn't been consistent enough from the 2012 Big East Player of the Year.
Fortunately, Crowder's jumper is much improved, as evidenced by his current mark of shooting 40 percent from three-point range. The rest of his game has been on display at times, but the fact that he's upped his mark from beyond the arc is encouraging enough.
Crowder can only get better under head coach Rick Carlisle.
Experience: 16th season
2013-14 Season Averages: 14.09 PER, 24.4 MPG, 10.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.4 APG
You don't have to tell me twice that Vince Carter is still a high-quality sixth man. By purely evaluating what's transpiring, however, Carter's strong 2012-13 campaign is looking like a distant memory.
Carter is averaging 10.8 points in 24.4 minutes of action. He's also shooting 38.3 percent from the field, which is a very telling statistic.
Carter has shot better than 40 percent in just five of his 19 appearances in 2013-14. The three-ball is still falling for him, and Carter is skilled enough to turn in another season to contend for NBA Sixth Man of the Year.
Until that happens, however, the only thing that can be evaluated is his quality of play.
Position: Point Guard
Experience: Ninth season
2013-14 Season Averages: 14.47 PER, 11.2 PPG, 4.7 APG, 1.8 RPG, 47.7% 3PT
The Dallas Mavericks acquired Jose Calderon because of his ability to pace an offense. Defense isn't his strong suit, but Calderon is one of the NBA's best facilitators and three-point shooters.
Thus far, only one of those traits has been on display.
Calderon is shooting an obscene 47.7 percent from three-point range. He's a career 40.5-percent shooter from deep, which suggests that he'll continue to be effective, but Calderon is clearly struggling to find his niche alongside Monta Ellis.
Calderon needs to become more active as a facilitator within the offense. He averaged at least eight assists in four seasons from 2007 to 2012, and needs to return to those ways for Dallas.
The number isn't as important as his quality of play, but Calderon averaging 4.7 assists per game is unacceptable.
Experience: 12th season
2013-14 Season Averages: 17.24 PER, 23.2 MPG, 7.6 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 1.5 BPG
Samuel Dalembert has long been one of the most underrated players in the NBA. While he may not be the flashiest of athletes, he's a consistent contributor who will provide quality work on the glass and as a rim protector.
That's exactly what Dalembert has done in 2013-14. In 23.2 minutes per game, he's averaging 7.6 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.5 blocks.
Dalembert isn't the most prolific or consistent scorer, but he's reliable in every other phase of the game. That makes him one of the most valuable players on a Mavericks team that needs him to play as much quality defense as possible.
Dalembert may be used in limited spaces, but he's going to be a major player in the Mavs' pursuit of the postseason.
Experience: Fifth season
2013-14 Season Averages: 19.47 PER, 21.3 MPG, 8.7 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 1.4 APG
DeJuan Blair is one of the best energy players in the NBA. Despite standing just 6'7", the 270-pound brute from the University of Pittsburgh has learned how to use his strength, physicality and tenacity to make a serious impact.
In 21.3 minutes per contest, Blair is averaging 8.7 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Still just 24, Blair is showing the signs of being a consistent contributor for years to come.
What's been most impressive about Blair is that he's managed to shine regardless of which role he has been handed. Whether he's playing alongside the starters or performing with the bench, Blair has displayed an undying will to succeed.
Dallas should be thrilled to have him on the roster.
Position: Small Forward
Experience: 15th season
Season Averages: 14.94 PER, 32.7 MPG, 11.6 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.4 SPG
Shawn Marion may be 35, but he's still one of the most complete players in the NBA. After starting the 2013-14 season slowly, Marion has responded by contributing excellent numbers on the boards and playing strong all-around defense.
Marion's greatest value lies in the fact that he can defend anyone—from a perimeter shooter to a low-post specialist. He's not quite as athletic as he used to be, but Marion is still a physical wonder who can frustrate even the best of scorers.
That's the type of value that Dallas cannot underestimate. On a team that's led by offensive specialists with limited defensive value, Marion is often the first, and last, line of defense.
A 14.94 Player Efficiency Rating may say that he's struggling, but Marion is having a good season.
Position: Shooting Guard
Experience: Ninth season
2013-14 Season Averages: 19.27 PER, 37.2 MPG, 21.6 PPG, 5.8 APG, 3.5 RPG, 1.6 SPG
By season's end, Monta Ellis could overtake Dirk Nowitzki for the top spot in the player power rankings. That may be a bold statement, but Ellis is reminding the NBA community that he was a consistently elite offensive player before going to the NBA black hole for guards known as the Milwaukee Bucks.
After 20 games, Ellis is averaging 21.6 points and 5.8 assists with a slash line of .471/.362/.841. For those who are surprised by those numbers, you shouldn't be.
From 2006 to 2011, Ellis averaged 21.2 points on 47.2 percent shooting from the floor. That's nearly identical to his current marks in Dallas.
Ellis has shot below 40.0 percent from the field in just two of his past 14 games, and he had 10 assists in both of those outings. His development as a facilitator is a key for this team, as it alleviates the burden on Jose Calderon.
Ellis will continue playing at this level throughout the duration of the season, and he deserves an All-Star bid because of it.
Position: Power Forward
Experience: 16th season
2013-14 Season Averages: 23.08 PER, 32.5 MPG, 20.9 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.1 SPG
Dirk Nowitzki is healthy. That's all you need to know about the 2011 NBA Finals MVP.
When his body's intact, Nowitzki is still an elite offensive player, using his signature one-leg fadeaway to terrorize opposing defenses. He's experiencing no trouble whatsoever in working his inside-out game, converting around the basket and stepping out for three-point field goals.
Nowitzki is averaging 20.9 points per game on a slash line of .487/.403/.929. All of those numbers are sustainable for a player who has made a living out of pouring in points in an efficient manner.
It's just Dirk being Dirk.