Dallas Mavericks Mailbag
This Mavericks team seems pretty deep. I don’t see any obvious weakness. What do you think?
I suppose I agree with you about the depth, Sean. The rebuilt Mavs squad seems to run pretty deep. But a deep bench is a necessity and not a luxury when your team is this old. Just take a look at the starting (top) 5: Monta Ellis 28, Jose Calderon 32, Shawn Marion 35, Dirk Nowitzki 35, and Samuel Dalembert 32.
Basketball is largely a young man’s game and this team is built around the aged. A team this old simply NEEDS depth just to survive. So while the depth is better than most teams can boast, I wouldn’t call it a strength.
As for obvious weaknesses, I see one big one:
The Dallas Mavericks are built to score but their defense just stinks. The depth at the Center position helps mask some deficiencies but make no mistake – this team can’t defend.
The problem begins with the Guards. Jose Calderon makes Steve Nash look like a defensive god (ok, that’s a bit far).
If Calderon was half as good defensively as he is offensively he would be making twice as much money (and probably playing someplace else).
Combine his defensive insufficiencies, with those of Monta Ellis, and you have a pretty disturbing backcourt. Ellis appears to be able but he’s not always willing. Ellis will get you the steals but won’t always work for position.
The result of having such a poor defensive backcourt is the strain placed on the frontcourt. Dirk is rarely going to be seen stepping in to stop a charging guard so the onus falls the Center to do so. Since the Mavs have three capable centers they can afford to foul away to protect the paint. That’s not really a solution to the problem but it can at least Band-Aid the guard issue.
Behind Ellis and Calderon are Vince Carter, Gal Mekel, Wayne Ellington, and Shane Larkin. Having not seen Larkin play yet, it’s tough to definitively say anything about his defense. But considering his size we have to assume he will struggle more often than not.
Gal Mekel (one of my favorite acquisitions) also isn’t anything special defensively. I’d like to think he develops into a good defender but that remains to be seen. We all know Carter is more of a situational defender and while he has a big body, he’s not going to use his size and strength every time.
Wayne Ellington is perhaps the best hope. The 3-point specialist is also a capable defender. He’s been banged up and stuck behind the aforementioned, but his skills translate very well to playoff basketball.
I believe more playing time (and more Wayne Ellington) can improve this defense to acceptable levels. But the truth is this team just isn’t constructed to play strong defense. The Mavs will need to rely on a high-scoring offense and some situational defense.
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