The Mavericks backcourt has largely been a collection of role players, one dimensional specialists, and almost-stars. In an offseason mad scramble the Mavericks grabbed who they could and came out in surprisingly good shape. Jose Calderon and Monte Ellis headlined the free agent grab. They both have been known to provide stellar shooting and dazzling plays. They have almost been worthy of All-star spots multiple times in their careers.
The Calderon/Ellis backcourt duo has been largely responsible for the Mavericks success this season. Dirk Nowitzki is still the headliner, but without Calderon and (especially) Ellis, the Mavs would be on the outside looking in.
While these two players have been important elements to the Mavs success this season, they possess some glaring deficiencies – defense. Calderon is widely known as an offensive weapon. He’s someone who creates and can knock down the open shot – but defense – not so much.
Monte Ellis came in with a similar wrap. Ellis is a big-time shooter but can be a liability on defense. It should be noted, Ellis truly raised his game this season and has been a much better defender than he has in the past. But no matter how willing and talented he is, his size will always hold him back defensively.
This is where Devin Harris and Wayne Ellington come into play. Both players have been known for very active defense and both have the ability to come in off the bench and contribute immediately. Harris and Ellington are not one dimensional either as both have proven to be smart and efficient scorers.
Harris has the speed to drive opposing guards mad. Part of being a good defender is tiring your opponent when you’re on offense. Devin Harris does that. Ellington has finally started getting game time and by the way he’s playing, he can expect to stay in the rotation. Ellington is a solid defender that can spot up for the three. He stretches the defense and can guard opponents big and small.
When on the court together, Calderon and Ellis form one of the worst defensive backcourts in the NBA. Injecting Harris into the rotation fixes it considerably. It’s almost a no-brainer to use Harris as much as earthly possible. If Harris can get and stay healthy, he could be in for some heavy minutes come playoff time. Without these two it’s hard to see the Mavs making any kind of postseason impact.
I know, chances are the Mavericks will be a first round exit regardless. But Harris and Ellington getting heavy minutes gives the Mavericks their best shot at winning – especially the postseason .
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