With the Mavericks adding Jameer Nelson and the Mavs have 14 players signed players with guaranteed contracts for the 2014-2015. Eddie Griffin’s contract is not guaranteed but lets assume he stays on the roster and breakdown the Mavs roster position by position.
Players: Tyson Chandler & Gregory Smith
Analysis: The Mavericks have upgraded at the center position by adding Tyson Chandler, a former NBA defensive player of the year and fellow member of the 2011 Championship Team. Chandler will bring more consistent play at the position than Dalembert and is much more effective in pick and roll situations with his ability to catch and finish. Greg Smith has the ability and athleticism to match Blair’s production off the bench if he stays healthy. Health and lack of depth are the biggest questions surrounding the center position as both Chandler and Smith have had injuries issues over the years and there isn’t a 3rd center on the roster in case one or both fall due to injury. The Mavs are hoping their training staff will keep both players healthy most importantly Chandler whose healthiest season was with the Mavericks in 2011. For this reason I give the Mavs a B at the center position. Yes they’ve upgraded in talent and skill but health and depth make the center position a concern for the upcoming season.
Grade : B
Players : Dirk Nowitzki, Brandon Wright, & Al-Farouq Aminu
Analysis: We’ve never had to worry about Dirk at the power forward position the question has always been at who’ll be backing him up. The Mavs can use a variety of players at the 4 spot. The addition of Aminu is a great pick-up for the Mavs as he’ll be able to provide rebounding and defensive off the bench. Brandon Wright will see majority of the minutes when the matchup is in the Mavs favor from a physical standpoint. Wright struggles against big physical forwards but can provide scoring, rebounding, and great athleticism when he’s called upon. Another option is moving Chandler Parsons to the 4 spot when Dirk goes to the bench which will help keep the floor spread. Dirk is still performing at an All-Star level even though his numbers this year might not leap off the stat sheet. With all the offensive weapons on the Mavs starting lineup Carlisle will be able to limit Dirk’s minutes in order to keep him fresh for the playoffs.
Players: Chandler Parsons, Jae Crowder, Richard Jefferson, Eric Griffin
The Mavs didn’t land the “big fish” but they acquired a young upcoming star in Chandler Parsons who can be a cornerstone for the franchise for years to come. Parsons is one of the most versatile offensive weapons in the league and has the athleticism to guard several positions on the floor. Parsons may very well attend his first All-Star game this season if all goes to plan. The small forward position is also perhaps the position with the most depth out of all the positions. Richard Jefferson will be a nice offensive weapon off the bench who can shoot from deep much like a Vince Carter. Jae Crowder is another young player that has developed into a nice role player for the Mavs over the last two seasons and provides solid defense along with being a threat from three-point land. Eric Griffin impressed the Mavs organization during summer league and showed flashes of tremendous upside, but it’s still unknown whether he’ll stay on the roster throughout the season. Nonetheless the Mavs have a great blend of youth, athleticism, and experience at the small forward position.
Players: Monta Ellis, Ricky Ledo, Raymond Felton/Devin Harris
Shooting guard is a little bit of a concern for the Mavs, but it has nothing to do with starting SG Monta Ellis. Monta exceeded Mav fans expectations and if he’s able to add a consistent jumper to his game could potentially also be going to his first All-Star game. Monta should be even more dynamic this year with all the driving space that will be created with the additions of Tyson, Parsons, and Jameer Nelson. The biggest concern with this lineup will be on the defensive end along with the lack of depth. Ricky Ledo is the only other official SG on the roster and while he’s shown a lot of promise in summer leagues he has yet to prove it on the NBA level. Harris and Felton are also expected to see sometime at the 2 position, which means the Mavs will be small at the position when it comes to playing defense. Monta is very efficient at picking up steals but his lack of size allows for opposing shooting guards to shoot right over him. Carlisle will have to get creative when it comes to the shooting guard position, but there’s no reason not to expect him and the coaching staff to compensate for the lack of depth.
Players: Jameer Nelson, Devin Harris, Raymond Felton, & Gal Mekel
The addition of Jameer Nelson really helps solidify the point guard position. Nelson is good ball handler and game manager whose shooting ability has been underrated over the years. Nelson is not a great defender but is good enough to not be a huge liability on the defensive end. Devin Harris will provide exactly what he did last year which is solid play on both the offensive and defensive end of the floor. Harris may very well be on the floor again at the end of games as he is currently the best defensive point guard on the roster. A lot of Mavs fans have been critical of Felton thus far but I expect him to be a key contributor off the bench as he’ll be highly motivated after a lackluster 2013-2014 season. Carlisle brings the best out of players and plans on playing a fast pace game with 3 point guards whom have all been starters in their NBA careers. Unfortunately for Gal Mekel he probably won’t see much playing time this season but should take the opportunity to continue learning from all the experience on the Mavs roster. The depth and experience are highly valuable at the point guard position.
With all the key acquisitions the Mavs have played I’ll grade the roster at a B+ as currently constructed. This grade can still go up of course as we see how the roster gels together and what elements players have worked on over the summer and added to their respective games. There’s a lot of potential in the young players like Smith, Aminu, Crowder, and Ledo to all make key contributions to the Mavs. Let’s not also forget Monta working on his jump shot this summer and Parsons working on his defensive guarding ability. All the things that I’ve mentioned can definitely raise the Mavs grade to an A or even an A+ if we were to win another title this season. The Mavs wll be in title contention once again and it’ll be a fn season for all us MFFLs!