When the Dallas Mavericks brought in Rajon Rondo around Christmas time, they knew what they were getting: a player with a high basketball IQ that makes everyone around him much, much better.
With Rondo out for a little while with two fractures to his face, the Mavs will lose quite a bit of productivity on both sides of the ball. When Rondo’s on the court, his unpredictability and decision-making skills make him a nightmare to play against. That facet of the Mavs’ play will be missing and sorely missed for a while.
Is it time to panic in the Big D? Will the Mavs struggle mightily to keep pace in the West with the absence of one of their star players?
Well, not exactly.
There is no denying that there will be a big Rondo-sized gap that no one on the Mavericks’ bench can fill. With him in the lineup, the Mavs are more productive offensively, better equipped defensively, and play an all-around better brand of basketball.
With that being said, let’s put Rondo’s absence into perspective. Before he came to Dallas, the Mavs had Jameer Nelson playing point. Nelson, a player nowhere near the quality of Rondo, wasn’t even really the first choice, getting the starting nod simply because Raymond Felton was still nursing an injury.
During that time at the beginning of the year, the Mavs went 19-8. Since the addition of Rondo, the Mavs have gone 14-9. Now, I don’t say this to insinuate that the Mavs were a better team before Rondo arrived. Despite the record, no one would argue that the Mavs are worse off after trading for the talented PG.
I say this only to point out that the Mavs will be okay.
More from Dallas Mavericks
- Dallas Mavericks Free Agency: 3 Roster Burning Questions
- ‘Dirk Overrated?’ Where does the Mavericks star rank among big men?
- Dallas Mavericks: 1 Possible trade scenario to solve their issues
- 2023 NBA Mock Draft: Where will the Dominoes fall?
- Mavericks new draft odds crucial to team’s future outlook
Are they in an ideal spot? Absolutely not. With Devin Harris going down in Monday night’s game against Minnesota, Dallas is left with JJ Barea and Felton at the point of the offense. Neither is Rondo. Neither can fill the shoes that the former Celtic wears each night.
Even with the Mavs being thin at the point, their offense can still function incredibly well without a dynamic playmaker in that position. Don’t forget; the Mavs had the number one offense in the league BEFORE Rondo. Don’t expect a marked decrease in points from this squad as a result of this injury. This team can put up some points with or without the little playmaker.
Also, JJ and Felton are more than adequate backups. Just look at JJ’s clutch performance in the fourth quarter Monday night. The guy has championship experience and knows what it takes to play the role of starter for a top team.
As for Felton, the guy’s got some talent. Mavs fans haven’t gotten a full taste of his abilities because of his injury. But the guys in the locker room love him and are backing him to step up his game in Rondo’s absence.
Disclaimer on my previous statements: while I don’t think the Mavs will be in grave danger over the next few games, I also don’t expect the greatest of showings Wednesday night against Golden State. The last time the Mavs played the Warriors, Steph Curry and the gang put on one of the greatest shooting displays I have ever seen.
In light of this, I wouldn’t be shocked to see many players given the night off (or given heavily restricted minutes) in an effort to rest tired legs and cut some losses. Even with Rondo, expecting a win against Golden State would be quite an ask.
Nevertheless, the Mavs will come out of this relatively unscathed. They might drop a place or two in the West (last time I checked, it’s pretty competitive on our side of the league), but they will weather the turbulence. If anything, giving players like Felton, Barea, and other fringe players like Villanueva a vital role over the next few weeks will strengthen an already stout squad.