Final First-Half Player Power Rankings for Dallas Mavericks

Maxwell OgdenCorrespondent IIIJanuary 11, 2014

Final First-Half Player Power Rankings for Dallas Mavericks

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    Sam Forencich/Getty Images

    As the NBA approaches the halfway mark of the 2013-14 regular season, the Dallas Mavericks are 21-16. Dallas ranks No. 10 in scoring offense and currently own the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.

    The question is, how have the individual players performed thus far?

    The stars have been as great as they're expected to be in Dallas, but the key is depth. Without the support of their role players, the Mavericks will be unable to live up to the lofty expectations that owner Mark Cuban puts forth every season.

    Here's how every key individual has played early in the year.

10. Shane Larkin

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    Rocky Widner/Getty Images

    Position: Point Guard

    Age: 21

    Experience: Rookie

    2013-14 Season Averages

    7.52 PER, 12.2 MPG, 3.4 PPG, 1.9 APG, 1.1 RPG, 0.7 SPG

    Once Shane Larkin adjusts to the pace of the NBA, he's going to be a valuable player for the Dallas Mavericks. At this point in time, however, Larkin is struggling to find his niche and has displayed more flashes of upside than he has consistency.

    Fortunately, those flashes have been impressive.

    In his most recent game on January 10, 2014, Larkin posted five points, six assists and four rebounds in 14 minutes of action.

    That was the highest assist total of his young career, and it's reason enough to believe in him as his minutes increase.

    The issue for Dallas is that Devin Harris will eventually return from injury. Larkin hasn't done enough to prove that he should remain in the rotation once that happens.

    That's an unfortunate reality that the Mavericks could be forced to cope with. Larkin's latest performance was his greatest, and that's an encouraging sign.

    Until Larkin does it with consistency, however, Harris will be the easier player to utilize as the backup point guard.

9. Jae Crowder

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    Glenn James/Getty Images

    Position: Small Forward

    Age: 23

    Experience: 2nd Season

    2013-14 Season Averages

    11.65 PER, 18.5 MPG, 5.5 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 0.8 SPG

    Jae Crowder is in his second year in the NBA, and the progress that he's made is clear. While he may not be posting elite numbers or flirting with a breakout season, the all-around force has become more comfortable under head coach Rick Carlisle.

    As a reserve with positional versatility, Crowder has earned his fair share of praise.

    Crowder has received elevated minutes with Shawn Marion battling a recent injury, and he responded with 12 points in 40 minutes on January 10.

    That's been a trend throughout the season, as Crowder has been strong when his minutes have been elevated.

    In games that he's played at least 20 minutes, Crowder is averaging 8.7 points in 26.5 minutes. By comparison, he's averaging just 4.1 points in 15.2 minutes.

    That dramatic increase suggests just one thing: When Crowder sees more minutes, his quality of work will improve. It's time for the Mavs to buy into that belief.

8. Samuel Dalembert

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    David Sherman/Getty Images

    Position: Center

    Age: 32

    Experience: 12th Season

    2013-14 Season Averages

    16.05 PER, 20.5 MPG, 6.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.3 BPG

    How do you rank a player who has fallen so far out of favor that his minutes fall from 21 to 13 without a moment's notice?

    How do you rank a player who has performed at an efficient level, but has been unable to step up in the areas he's needed most?

    That's the debacle with Samuel Dalembert.

    Dalembert is averaging 6.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in an average of 20.5 minutes of action per contest. That's created a Player Efficiency Rating of 16.05, but it's not the entire story.

    According to NBA.com, Dalembert is allowing opponents to shoot 52.2 percent when he meets them at the rim. Seeing as Dallas signed the 32-year-old to be their rim-protector, it's hard to evaluate Dalembert as anything but a letdown.

    He's played well enough in other areas to warrant keeping him on the floor. More applicably, the Mavericks don't have another player who has proven capable of seeing starter's minutes and providing an adequate level of play and production.

    Dallas is stuck with hoping Dalembert will improve.

7. Brandan Wright

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    Layne Murdoch/Getty Images

    Position: Center

    Age: 26

    Experience: 6th Season

    2013-14 Season Averages

    23.74 PER, 19.5 MPG, 10.2 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 0.8 BPG

    In 2007, Brandan Wright was the No. 8 overall draft choice. Since then, he's failed to live up to the lofty expectations that a top-10 pick inevitably encounters, and that's caused many to write him off.

    Quietly, he's become one of the most efficient players in the NBA.

    In 19.5 minutes per contest, Wright is averaging 10.2 points and 4.0 rebounds on 69.0 percent shooting from the field. In turn, Wright has put together a Player Efficiency Rating of 23.74.

    That number ranks in the top 10 in the league, albeit unqualified.

    For those who want to call Wright's success a fluke, don't; this is the third consecutive season that Wright's PER is above 21.0.

    The unfortunate truth for Dallas is that injuries have limited Wright to 13 games of action. If he were available for more action and played at this similarly high level, Wright's ranking would inevitably rise and his respect would grow with it.

    Until then, it's difficult to praise a player too much for 13 games.

6. Vince Carter

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    Glenn James/Getty Images

    Position: Shooting Guard

    Age: 36

    Experience: 16th Season

    2013-14 Season Averages

    15.44 PER, 24.5 MPG, 11.5 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 2.8 APG, 0.8 SPG

    Vince Carter started slow, but he has turned things around in a major way since the beginning of December. After averaging 10.0 points on 35.5 percent shooting from the field in November, Vinsanity posted 11.7 points on a mark of 44.0 percent in December.

    If he continues playing like this, Carter will be in the conversation for Sixth Man of the Year.

    Carter shot just 32.9 percent from beyond the arc in November, but he upped that number to 36.2 in December. Through six games in January, Carter is converting 42.9 percent of his attempts from distance.

    He's sunk 15 of those shots. In other words, Dallas needs him to score, and that's exactly what Carter is doing.

    The biggest issue for Carter is that he's shooting just 40.0 percent when he drives to attack the basket, per NBA.com. That's uncharacteristic of one of the NBA's all-time great finishers, which suggests that he needs to work off the ball more than he does with it in his hands.

    Fortunately, the progress he's made is far more indicative of his value than his overall numbers.

5. DeJuan Blair

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    Glenn James/Getty Images

    Position: Center

    Age: 24

    Experience: 5th Season

    2013-14 Season Averages

    18.04 PER, 20.4 MPG, 8.1 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.2 SPG

    During the 2012-13 regular season, DeJuan Blair was stunningly underused as a member of the San Antonio Spurs. In turn, some basketball minds seemed to lose sight of just how hard Blair works and how efficiently he plays.

    The Dallas Mavericks have been reaping the benefits as the team that took a chance on him.

    In 20.4 minutes, Blair is averaging 8.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.2 steals on 55.8 percent shooting from the field. He has been in foul trouble, but his level of aggression down low has been infectious for a Mavericks team without an elite interior defensive presence.

    In turn, Blair is posting a career-best Player Efficiency Rating of 18.04.

    What Blair has done an excellent job of is working for his opportunities. Dallas hasn't run many designed plays through him.

    In his limited action, however, he's averaging a team-high 2.3 offensive rebounds per game. That's the definition of his identity as a player.

    Blair has been invaluable.

4. Shawn Marion

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    Ned Dishman/Getty Images

    Position: Small Forward

    Age: 35

    Experience: 15th Season

    2013-14 Season Averages

    15.09 PER, 11.3 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.3 SPG

    At 35 years old, Shawn Marion is still a very effective player. He's strong without the ball in his hands, and has a genuine ability to impact the game in every area.

    Thus far in 2013-14, Marion has been one of Dallas' top 5 players.

    Marion is averaging 11.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.3 steals per game. He hasn't been the most dominant force, but Marion's energy and athleticism remain powerful enough to help drive the Mavericks on both ends.

    For the first time since 2007-08, Marion has an assist-to-turnover ratio above 1.00. He's already made more three-point field goals in 2013-14 than he has in any season since 2007-08.

    It hasn't been perfect for the former UNLV star, but Marion is seeing a high number of minutes and has made the most of those opportunities.

3. Jose Calderon

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    Ned Dishman/Getty Images

    Position: Point Guard

    Age: 32

    Experience: 9th Season

    2013-14 Season Averages

    15.93 PER, 11.8 PPG, 4.8 APG, 2.5 RPG, 1.1 SPG

    At first glance, Jose Calderon has been underwhelming with the Dallas Mavericks. Known for his ability to facilitate any offense he plays in, Calderon is averaging just 4.8 dimes per game—his lowest number since 2005-06.

    Don't be so quick to judge.

    Calderon is averaging 11.8 points on a stellar three-point shooting mark of 45.6 percent. As a career 40.7 percent shooter from beyond the arc, it's beyond fair to believe that the Spaniard will continue his success.

    Dating back to last season, Calderon is shooting 47.7 percent from distance in his past 64 games.

    The Mavericks need Calderon to take a stronger initiative as a facilitator, as his prowess in that regard is invaluable to team success. The offense has been flourishing, but when things slow down, his ability to pace the team will be key.

    When a player is shooting this well, however, there isn't much to complain about.

2. Monta Ellis

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    Layne Murdoch Jr./Getty Images

    Position: Shooting Guard

    Age: 28

    Experience: 9th Season

    2013-14 Season Averages

    18.08 PER, 20.0 PPG, 5.9 APG, 3.2 RPG, 1.8 SPG

    In early July, I wrote that Monta Ellis should choose the Dallas Mavericks as the team that he signs with. Six months later, Ellis is playing like he were still with the Golden State Warriors and reminding fans that he's long deserved to be an All-Star.

    This time around, he actually has a shot at the playoffs.

    Ellis is currently averaging 20.0 points, 5.9 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game. He's shooting 45.7 percent from the field, which is .001 higher than his career mark.

    In other words, this success is sustainable.

    The biggest development in Ellis' game is his willingness to facilitate when his shot isn't falling. He has five games with at least 10 assists and 12 with at least eight, which has played into Dallas' rank of No. 6 in total assists per contest.

    It'll be difficult to name two All-Stars from a 21-16 team, but Ellis certainly deserves it. Just check his bread-and-butter.

    Ellis leads all players with 295 points scored and 8.0 points per game via drives, per NBA.com. The next-leading player is Tony Parker at 219 and 6.6.

    How's that for an elite slasher?

1. Dirk Nowitzki

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    Glenn James/Getty Images

    Position: Power Forward

    Age: 35

    Experience: 16th Season

    2013-14 Season Averages

    23.27 PER, 20.8 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.1 SPG

    At the age of 35 years young, Dirk Nowitzki is having one of his finest seasons as the leader of the Dallas Mavericks. He's scoring in an efficient manner while also serving as a facilitator out of the post and being an improved defensive presence.

    All in all, it's just Dirk being Dirk.

    Nowitzki is currently averaging 20.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.1 steals per game. He's doing so on a smooth slash line of .488/.400/.895, which adds up to a Player Efficiency Rating of 23.27.

    Only two big men who have played at least 20 games in 2013-14 have a higher PER: Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves and DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings.

    On top of playing efficiently, Nowitzki is averaging his highest number of assists since 2007-08. Dirk is also posting 0.8 blocks, which is his best average since 2009-10.

    There isn't much you can say to negatively reflect upon Nowitzki's efforts. He's been incredible, and he deserves another All-Star nod.