The progress of young Mavericks players, Dwight Powell and Dennis Smith Jr, prove head coach Rick Carlisle can resurrect the franchise.
Mavericks fans have always known Rick Carlisle to be a great coach. We just weren’t all convinced he’s a great coach to rebuild a franchise. After all, Carlisle has always seemed to prefer smart veteran players whom he could trust.
Looking back, Rick Carlisle hasn’t exactly been the most patient coach when it comes to the growing pains associated with inexperienced players. He’s been known to keep the leash short and doesn’t hesitate to remove them at the first signs of a mental lapse.
It was this that made me, and others, skeptical of his ability to develop an immature and mistake prone roster. It would be like asking Dr Sheldon Cooper to teach remedial math – might not be the best idea.
But this season has been a pleasant surprise. Not in the form of a winning record, but rather a pleasant surprise in the form of a developing roster. Two players in particular illustrate this revelation: Dennis Smith Jr and Dwight Powell.
In all honesty, Dennis Smith Jr was a steal the moment the Mavericks selected him ninth overall. But his development and support under Rick Carlisle has been equally as impressive. Carlisle has shown patience and savvy in the development of his young star. And the Mavericks franchise is all the better for it.
Similarily, Carlisle has shown great skill in his ability to develop Dwight Powell. As mentioned a week ago, Dwight Powell is so darn good these days because the Mavs are using him to his strengths and avoiding his weaknesses.
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Before the season began, Powell looked like one of the worst contracts on the team. It was laughable to think he’d suddenly live up to and/or exceed his salary in the 2017-18 season. Yet, here he is. Exceeding his contract. Rick Carlisle gets full credit on this one.
Coaching to the situation
So did Carlisle suddenly change his ways and become a patient players coach or did we misread him earlier in his career? The answer is neither.
Rick Carlisle is simply coaching to the situation. For years he was coaching a true contender loaded with veteran options.
The stakes were high and his priorities were on winning a championship more than developing young players.
This season, contending is not an option. Because of that, developing talent is the highest priority. And if we’re being honest, losing is somewhat encouraged from ownership and the Mavericks fanbase.
We’re seeing a new side and a new skill set from Rick Carlisle because he’s in an entirely new situation this year. Rick is proving to be more valuable by the day because he’s the best of both worlds and unquestionably the right man for the job.
Sorry I doubted you, coach.