NBA Roundtable

New Look Mavericks

In General NBA on February 17, 2010 at 4:00 am

Big Man Rotation


  • PF/C — Dirk Nowitzki
  • C — Brendan Haywood
  • C — Eric Dampier
  • SF/PF — Shawn Marion minutes
  • PF/C –Eduardo Najera
  • PF/C — Tim Thomas

First Choice Rotation

Center — 48 minutes split between Eric Dampier and Brendan Haywood

Power Forward — 35-40 minutes for Dirk Nowitzki and 8-13 minutes from Shawn Marion

The Mavericks will use their two other big men for situational minutes. Najera when they need more defense and rebounding. Thomas when they need more shooting ability. Neither player is likely to be in the first choice rotation, particularly not come playoff time.

Wing Rotation

Defensively — Shawn Marion + Caron Butler

Shawn Marion is having an excellent season defensively. He is playing, by far, his best defense in at least three years and deserves All-Defensive Team recognition. Marion will be able to take the toughest opposing wing on a nightly basis and allow Butler to take the secondary threat.

I dislike Caron Butler’s defensive because of his lack of lateral ability and vulnerability against small forwards with moderate quickness. Against slashers, against dribble penetration, and isolations. Butler is, however, a good team defender and a good man-to-man defender below the foul line due to his strength and aggressiveness. Caron Butler is also an attentive defensive player who plays with good effort/focus defensively.

So, with Butler matched up against a lesser  threat offensively, he’ll be an effective defensive player and add some value to the Mavericks defense.

Stevenson + Carroll

I do not expect DeShawn Stevenson or Matt Carroll to be rotation regulars for the Mavericks.

I’m thinking situational subs who’ll be used when the Mavericks need a more athletic/physical defensive presence on the wing (Stevenson) or more of a three point threat offensively (Carroll).

Both players are serviceable reserves in these roles.



  • PG — Jason Kidd — offensively a point guard but capable of defending one through three
  • PG/SG — Jason Terry — nearly all of his minutes will come as a two guard
  • PG — Juan Jose Barea
  • PG — Rodrigue Beaubois

Expected Rotation/Minutes On Perimeter

  • Jason Kidd will receive 35-38 minutes a night.
  • Shawn Marion will play 30-33 minutes in the regular season and likely 34-37 minutes in the postseason.
  • Caron Butler will play 36-38 minutes.
  • Jason Terry will play another 26-29 minutes
  • JJ Barea will likely get the final 8-20 minutes with his minutes varying widely depending on matchups + chose style of play

Rodrigue Beaubois

I would like to see Rick Carlisle play Beaubois instead of Barea. I think Beaubois’ defensive game adds a different + necessary element to the Mavericks perimeter defense.

And, that that defensive contribution in addition to his explosive scoring/shooting ability adds more to the Mavericks offense than Barea’s solid scoring/playmaking contributions.

However, I do not expect this to happen. Not until next season.



The Mavericks are a very talented defensive team and they are spearheaded by the quality of their starting unit.

Eric Dampier and Brendan Haywood give the Mavericks 48 minutes of very good interior defense. A post presence and strong shot blocking. It’s unclear who will start but both players bring a similar type of game to the table. Haywood is the superior all round player and in particularly the superior defender, but both are quality players.

Add to that the seven foot Dirk Nowitzki and Dallas will be able to have a twin towers type effect on the court for the majority of the game. This will make it difficult for opponents to get clean looks at the rim on dribble penetration.

Shawn Marion has been the club’s best defender this season and he will likely remain. He gives the Mavericks a true stopper on the perimeter who is capable of slowing down opponents at any position one through three but specializes on wings. Marion is also a good defensive player when used at power forward in smaller lineups.

The Mavericks then have Caron Butler and Jason Kidd. As I said above, Butler will make a good secondary defender on the wing. Jason Kidd is a matchup dependent defender at the point. He’s very good against big or slow point guards but he struggles against point guards with high levels of quickness. Kidd is also a very strong defender against shooting guards and a solid defender against most small forwards. His team defense, regardless of matchup, is very good.

This gives Dallas a tall and physically imposing lineup of Jason Kidd + Caron Butler + Shawn Marion + Dirk Nowitzki + Eric Dampier/Brendan Haywood. All of their players have good size, length and strength for their positions. Only Marion has exceptional quickness.

Vulnerable Defensively

The Mavericks big man combinations are all fairly slow. Laterally and in transition too. This makes them vulnerable in man-to-man matchups against quick bigs, in transition, against pick and rolls, and when making multiple defensive rotations in the same possession.

The Mavericks starting unit will be able to limit these flaws by using their size, particularly the perimeter players, to close down space off the ball and shrink the court. Make it difficult for opposing players to get easy penetration and keep the ball in front of the defense.

However, when that unit is broken up and different lineup combinations take the floor, Dallas can and will be vulnerable. Either on the perimeter due to Shawn Marion shifting to power forward + their small ball backcourts. Or up front when the perimeter becomes smaller and less talented defensively.

In particular, they’ll be vulnerable when the second unit is on the floor and the interim stages when Dallas is trading out it’s starting players piece by piece.

In watching the game against Oklahoma tonight, I thought Dallas’ defense looked vulnerable when (1) they kept two bigs in the game but removed Kidd + Marion and used a small backcourt alongside Buter (2) when Dallas went small up front with Marion at the four, Butler at the three, and a small backcourt.

Edit: The Mavs lack of quickness amongst their big men will be very difficult to take advantage of because of their size and team defensive abilities on the perimeter. That means that very few players will be able to exploit this weakness to a large enough degree to turn Dallas’ defense inside out.


Dallas becomes a lot more vulnerable defensively when (1) they lose Jason Kidd’s defense in the backcourt, either at the point or at the two allowing Jason Terry to defend the smaller player, (2) when Shawn Marion is removed from the wing and Dallas lacks a replacement above average stopper off the bench.

The common denominator with both of these causes is JJ Barea. The Mavericks are forced to play Barea, a poor defender, and then regularly use a small backcourt. They also play him in the second unit most of the time which means Marion is either sitting on the bench or playing the power forward position which also loses Dallas defense on the wing.

The best plan of action for Dallas is acquiring a solid defensive minded wing with good size and give that player Barea’s minutes with Jason Terry taking over the backup point guard role.

In lieu of that addition, Dallas will need to play Jason Kidd in the second unit alongside Barea and Butler to stop Dallas becoming so weak defensively on the perimeter. If they fail to use to do that, then Dallas will remain there for the taking against all opposition when the second unit is in play.

Offensive Play

Expected Scoring Threats

  • Dirk Nowitzki = 25 points per game on a TS% of 57-58%
  • Caron Butler = 18-21 points per game on a TS% of 53-55% (increased turnover risk too)
  • Jason Terry = 15-17 points per game on a TS% of 55-56%
  • Jason Kidd = 8-11 points per game on a TS% of 56-57%
  • Shawn Marion = 11-13 points per game on a TS% of 53-54%
  • Eric Dampier = 5-6 points per game on a TS% of 60-65%
  • Brendan Haywood = 6-8 points per game on a TS% of 58-64%
  • JJ Barea = 3-7 points per game on a TS% of 53%

Passing Quality (relative to position)

  • Excellent = Jason Kidd
  • Very Good = none
  • Good = Dirk Nowitzki
  • Solid = JJ Barea + Caron Butler + Shawn Marion
  • Mediocre = Jason Terry when playing the point, as a setup guard. He’s less involved as a passer as a two guard and doesn’t add anything with his passing.
  • Decent = Brendan Haywood
  • Poor = Eric Dampier + Rodrigue Beaubois

Jason Kidd is the only Mavericks player to add a high level of offensive value through his passing ability. The rest of the squad is fairly mediocre, passing wise.

Go-To Options

An excellent primary go-to scorer in Dirk Nowitzki but not a high level passer/creator which puts more onus on his second and third scoring options to contribute in that area.

Caron Butler and Jason Terry are poor second and third go-to options offensively due to their lack of complementary skills relative to Dirk, their passing ability and scoring abilities.

The rest of the Mavericks supporting cast is a very talented group offensively. Slight issue with Marion’s lack of a jump shot as a complementary offensive threat but only a slight issue. Overall, a very talented supporting cast.

Vulnerable Offensively

The Mavericks inability to provide versatile go-to offensive threats will leave their squad’s offense vulnerable against talented defensive teams. It makes them easier to defend. It’s regularly clear where the threat is coming from.

There is also a lack of penetration which means the opposing team doesn’t have to scramble as much defensively. Not as many defensive rotations or opportunities for defensive miscues. A defensive team can stay in between the ball and the rim for longer than you’d like which leads to more jump shots, more contested shot, more misses and more rebounds for the opponents.

Mavericks Stand In West

Power Rankings

I think this trade makes Dallas the Lakers chief competitor in the West but not on par with the Lakers.

I’m still not convinced that the Nuggets or Jazz are capable of beating the Lakers in a seven game series. Both teams have too many problems defending the Lakers big man and in defending Kobe Bryant (more Utah than Denver).

I’m also disappointed in the Spurs play. They are not a title caliber team as currently constituted. They are a very good team, and capable of beating just about anyone, but look unable to sustain a prolonged period of excellence through the playoffs. In other words, I don’t see them beating 3-4 very good-to-excellent teams in consecutive seven game series.

So, I would rank the Lakers number one in the West. Dallas number two. Utah would be number five with the other two fighting hard for the third and fourth spots.

Another Move

I think the Mavericks need to make another move, to bring in another impact player, in order to match or surpass the Lakers in the Western Conference.

Their main trading asset is the non-guaranteed contract of Eric Dampier. And, if they trade Dampier, they may need an impact player + a first big off the bench to keep their roster balance/depth strong.

Some Statistical Expectations

I expect Dallas to be a top five defensive team in defensive efficiency and a top ten team in offensive efficiency. I also expect them to be a top five team in rebounding differential.

In other words, Dallas is going to be very very good. They are an excellent team.

  1. I’m interested to see what lineup Carlisle puts out there in crunch time.

    I’ve seen the Mavs go relatively small in the past, and I would think that they might do something like this in crunch time this season, at least on offense:


    They gain a great deal in lateral quickness in the frontcourt, so they can potentially cover pick and rolls better than with Haywood/Damp, they can shoot from every position, and they can rebound relatively well.

    Overall, I think the Haywood trade was brilliant, Butler is a bonus if he can return to form from the past 1-2 seasons, and they have some deadly situational combinations.

    I really agree with you, though, about needing one more piece. They’re not better than the Lakers yet, and I’m not sure how they get there.

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