Dallas Mavericks: Assessing the logjam in the frontcourt

DALLAS, TX - FEBRUARY 01: Nerlens Noel
DALLAS, TX - FEBRUARY 01: Nerlens Noel /

The Dallas Mavericks are truly rich with backcourt talent, but it’s the frontcourt that has us wondering how the minutes will be dispersed.

As the Dallas Mavericks look to start their new season, they must find a way to divide minutes appropriately throughout their roster. The backcourt, loaded with Dennis Smith Jr, Seth Curry, Yogi Ferrell, J.J. Barea, and Devin Harris, will have its set of challenges. But it’s the frontcourt that many are overlooking.

Today, we turn our attention to the big guys down low. Primarily focusing on the power forward and center positions. While the Mavs are far from blue-chip at the four and five, they are fairly deep in developing talent. Wanting to involve everyone looks to be a somewhat difficult task.

Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews

Right off the bat we need to address Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews. Rick Carlisle likes to use these two players in a number of different roles. Their versatile size and skill makes them ideal swing players for a team that regularly rotates between playing small ball and playing traditionally sized starting five.

But as it looks now, the Mavericks will be opting for a small lineup that can move quickly and push the ball. As such, Harrison Barnes will probably be logging most of his time at the four while Wes Matthews will play mostly at the three(small forward).

We know Harrison Barnes is going to get a ton of minutes this season and we suspect a ton of that ton will be at power forward. That leaves the rest of the names to fight for center and whatever is left over at power forward.

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Dirk Nowitzki, Nerlens Noel, Salah Mejri, Dwight Powell, and Josh McRoberts

These five Mavs figure to be the biggest names vying for the rest of the time in the frontcourt. Luckily two of them can almost be scratched off at this point. Salah Mejri is a great body to have but he doesn’t play much into the Mavs future so his contributions will likely decline this season.

Josh McRoberts is injured and seems to always be injured in some regard. From the moment he joined the team I speculated he was nothing more than an expiring contract and future trade piece. Nothing has happened to back off this stance and I see him playing little to nothing this season before he gets packaged in a trade early next year.

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That leaves Dirk Nowitzki, Nerlens Noel, and Dwight Powell to split up the remaining minutes. All are listed as power forwards and centers on the roster so all will split their time in some regard. Where Powell plays will likely come down to his progression as a shooter. He’s traditionally been terrible on the boards as well, making his fit not so easy to figure out.

Powell showed improvement last season when asked to play more consistent minutes. Getting him those consistent minutes will be key for Rick Carlisle since Powell is among the highest paid players on the team and could be a tradeable commodity if he can get off to a good start this season.

Dirk is 67-years old and will see another decline in numbers. He’s starting the season healthy this year and Rick Carlisle wants to keep him that way. Look for Dirk to skip back-to-back nights and take long breaks during the middle of most games. Dirk will start the season as center, but should see some time at his familer four spot as well.

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It would be shocking if Nerlens Noel  didn’t log the most minutes at center this season. The Mavericks want to see him take that next step and need to make a decision on him before he becomes a free agent…again.

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Other young players like Jonathan Motley and Max Kleber are fun to talk about but unlikely to garner much time. The Mavs frontcourt may not be as packed as the backcourt but it still has its share of logjam with Barnes, Nowitzki, Noel, and Powell all fighting for minutes.