Dallas Mavericks fans anticipated what the addition of Shawn Marion would look like in the starting lineup. More importantly, they wanted to see how Marion and Josh Howard played next to one another with Jason Kidd running the show.
Preseason basketball came and went without the two touching the court together. Five games into the regular season, Marion was in uniform and Howard in street clothes.
Finally, less than 24 hours from a home game against the Toronto Raptors, the news broke that Howard would make his much-awaited season debut from offseason ankle surgery.
The team looked revived, hustling and running on its way to a dominating victory over the Raptors, 129-101. Howard helped the Mavericks to another win against the visiting Houston Rockets. However, in just his third game back, Howard left the floor in San Antonio after 19 minutes due to an obvious limp. He did not return.
Howard has since been labeled as "out indefinitely," which has become common in Dallas. The Mavericks must move on without their arguably second-best scoring option.
Where do they look to fill the role Howard's absence presents?
Dallas has several players to pick up the slack, and that's exactly what they will have to do. Reigning Sixth Man of the Year Jason Terry, Jose Barea, Quinton Ross, and possibly rookie Roddy Beaubois will get time at the two guard spot.
Terry plays second fiddle to Dirk Nowitzki more often than not. The JET found his shooting touch recently and it couldn't have come at a better time. Terry's defense improved from last season and he's hitting the gaps with more efficiency.
Barea gives Jason Kidd rest as the backup point guard, but also plays alongside Kidd and Terry at times. His increased confidence only benefits the team. Barea excels when offensively aggressive and even more dangerous when he's finding open teammates.
Ross joined the club over the summer to be a defensive ace. He and Marion keep the team accountable on that end of the floor. Ross' defensive awareness makes opposing shooting guards work hard for every shot. If he can continue to hit jumpers on the weak side, his value simply improves.
At last, Rodrigue Beaubois. The rookie point guard possesses immense amounts of talent combined with his dynamic athletic ability. When given minutes, mistakes happen, but the upside has looked brilliant. Beaubois darts up and down the court with amazing speed and owns a 40" vertical leap. His 6'10" wingspan makes him a viable defensive threat and steal machine. Once RB3 receives consistent minutes in this league, he will produce.
So as the Mavericks move along with Josh Howard, his teammates seek to deliver in his absence.