Dallas Mavericks fans can exhale a bit. The team is getting a bit younger, for once.
With Chandler Parsons signing a multi-year deal last week, the Mavs finally got younger at a position, rather than fortifying it with older veterans as done in years past and following the team’s 2011 title run.
The 25-year old Parsons comes from a Houston Rockets team known for their motion offense, putting a lot of miles on Parson’s legs in the process. Parsons provides another offensive weapon to complement Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis, and coaching mastermind Rick Carlisle will surely find a way to maximize Parson’s potential, while off-the-court, Dallas high-end fashion magazines (and women) will vie for the 3-year player’s attention, with his looks more suited for reality TV than a basketball court.
In addition the team signed 23-year-old banger Greg Smith, and veterans Richard Jefferson and Rashard Lewis, mainly to replace the scoring void left by the departures of Vince Carter and Jose Calderon. Devin Harris was also retained at a contract many experts view as the bargain of the summer.
But back to Parsons. While the Mavericks are getting younger (and signing that big ticket free agent owner Mark Cuban was so craving these past few years?) a large problem remains: Dallas’s inability to produce anyone relevant from the draft.
While the goals of the past few years (and possibly longer than that) have been to surround Dirk with the best supporting staff possible, it has come at the expense of developing any homegrown young players. The last player to have an impact on the Mavericks in their rookie season in the league, was Rodrique Beaubois in 2009, who had a 16-point outburst in the Mavs final 2010 first round playoff game, and a 40-point game in the regular season, causing “Free Roddy B!” t-shirts to become popular around the Dallas metroplex. Beaubois ultimately succumbed to a myriad of injuries, and fell out of favor
Before Beaubois, Harris in 2004 (who was technically not picked by the Mavs, but rather acquired via a trade with the Washington Wizards and Josh Howard were the last impact rookies picked by the Mavs. Aside from Beaubois, who provided help in spurts, the last time the Mavericks drafted a productive rookie (with apologies to Jae Crowder) was over 10 YEARS AGO!
This is not to demean the savvy of Donnie Nelson and Cuban; players like Tyson Chandler, Jason Kidd (also drafted by the Mavericks in 1994) Shawn Marion and Deshawn Stevenson were paramount to the 2011 title run, and Jason Terry endeared himself to the Dallas faithful with a bounty of clutch in crucial situations over his 8 year tenure with the team.
This is however designed to question the logic of the overall strategy, which many believe is to surround Dirk with as much talent as possible until he retires. Dirk is mid-30s, has some lingering knee issues, and isn’t getting any younger, no matter his playing style.
Wouldn’t it have been nicer to be in say, the Rockets’ position, where they could exercise an extra year on Parson’s contract and only pay him a little less than $1 million, while getting that same 16 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists per game, rather than be the team who pays 15 times that and hope for the best?
The Mavericks once valued the draft. Heck, that’s what netted Dirk and Steve Nash in the first place. While the majority of the team’s picks have been in the mid-to-late 20s since the mid-2000s, Dirk isn’t getting any older, and with the potential of Parsons opting out in a couple of years, it may be time to recoup some of those first-round picks and put a renewed emphasis on the draft.
Dallas only needs to look a few hours down south to see how mining the draft year-after-year (well, and a Hall of Fame power forward) can lead to sustained organizational success and multiple championships.