Grading Rick Carlisle's Season for the Dallas Mavericks So Far
The Dallas Mavericks are battling for a playoff spot, and if their coach has anything to do with it, they will be able to secure a spot in the postseason. For years Carlisle has been one of the best coaches in basketball.
While sometimes his coaching may go unnoticed, there is no way to look past the facts. Carlisle has a career winning percentage of better than 58 percent, a Coach of the Year award and an NBA championship.
With Carlisle in line to avoid a season below .500 for the 11th time in 12 years as a head coach, his work so far in the 2013-14 season has been about as impressive as ever.
Now, we’ll grade just how remarkable Carlisle’s year has been thus far.
All stats via basketball-reference.com.
Motivation of Team
The Mavericks definitely do not lack the desire to win. Starting with their owner, all the way down to the players, they always come out ready to play hard.
NBA teams that come out flat to open up a game often find themselves in a big hole. With an 82-game season, subpar effort is going to happen from time to time, but a lack of will is something not often found in a Rick Carlisle-coached team.
Dallas is in the thick of the playoff race, which is certainly enough motivation in and of itself to compete.
Carlisle is not the most outspoken or forthright coach when it comes to dealing with the media and fans, but it is clear that Carlisle’s actions and words with his team are essential to preparing his team on a nightly basis.
Player development is one of the most important parts of being a coach at any level. In the NBA, all of the best coaches are the ones who can develop their talent seemingly out of nowhere.
How many times has Patty Mills or Cory Joseph come out of nowhere to lead the San Antonio Spurs to a big win?
All of these success stories are driven by highly talented coaches who have proven to be great at developing their players.
For Rick Carlisle, his elderly roster leaves him with little room to show his ability to develop guys to their fullest potential. However, Carlisle has been able to use Brandan Wright in a very impressive fashion thus far. Wright’s insane offensive rating of 132 leads the Mavs, while his PER of 23.9 is second only to Dirk Nowitzki.
Guys like Ricky Ledo, Shane Larkin and Jae Crowder will be among the players whom Carlisle will try and develop in the future, but this season his most impressive work has been with Brandan Wright.
It’s hard to disagree with anything that Rick Carlisle has been able to pull off with the roster he was given for 2013-14.
The rotation he plays only gives further evidence of the coaching job he's done this season.
When at full strength the Mavs have mostly featured a starting five of Jose Calderon, Monta Ellis, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki and Samuel Dalembert.
The starting lineup has changed at times due to injuries or poor play, but one thing that has remained constant has been their sixth man. Vince Carter has occupied this role and has done a great job for the Mavs all season. After Carter, Carlisle will usually go with Brandan Wright or Devin Harris, when healthy.
One issue I had for a while with Carlisle’s rotation was Jae Crowder’s minutes. Though Wayne Ellington hasn’t been a great improvement over Crowder, it never felt like Crowder did enough to deserve the minutes he received.
As of late, Crowder’s playing time has basically disappeared, while Ellington’s has increased.
Carlisle’s rotation has been very solid all season long. I would have given him a straight A had there not been the discrepancy between Brandan Wright's minutes per night (18), despite his improved play, and the 30 minutes that Shawn Marion is for some reason getting.
Until that issue is resolved, I refuse to give Carlisle a higher grade.
Game management might be the area of coaching at which Rick Carlisle is his finest. Rarely, if ever, will you see Carlisle outcoached by his competitor. The consistent level at which he coaches is what makes Carlisle a top coach in this league.
Carlisle has his team playing great team basketball. He and his players know their strengths and weaknesses and don’t try and change their game based on which team they play.
Ball movement and ball security are two things that Carlisle has stressed with this team this year, and the Mavs have responded, ranking fourth in assists and fifth in turnovers.
The Mavericks do not have the world’s best defense, their defensive rating ranks 23rd in the league, and Carlisle knows it. While their porous defense does hurt them often, the Mavericks make up for it with highly efficient play at the other end of the floor.
Carlisle’s offensive schemes and sets are so perfectly matched for his players that it’s no wonder they rank in the top five in offensive rating. Carlisle’s game management will always put him ahead of others in the league and is a key reason to his teams' past and current success.
Not many people thought the Mavericks would be making the playoffs this year, but Carlisle, Dirk and company have surprised many and are doing their best to secure a spot in the top eight.
Overall, it has been a very good year for the Mavericks head coach. With his team playing at a high level, his value as a coach continues to grow. The Mavericks currently have Carlisle under contract through 2016, but you can be sure other teams will be dying to lure him their way when his contract expires.
For now, Carlisle will be on the Mavericks sideline doing what he does best, winning. His coaching performance this year has impressed many, and he should be receiving a great grade from anyone evaluating his abilities.
Overall Grade: B+