Ed. note: This post doubles as an introduction to a new member of The Two Man Game family, even if Mavs fans are undoubtedly quite familiar with his work already. Bryan Gutierrez is a contributing writer for Mavs.com, and formerly worked the Mavericks beat for Mavs Moneyball. You can follow Bryan on Twitter at @BallinWithBryan.
Ranking teams or players before the real season tips off is a chore that doesn’t really make a lot of sense but it’s great for conversation. Unless you live under a rock, you probably followed ESPN.com’s #NBARank project. We’ll put a wrinkle on it by ranking the Dallas Mavericks’ expected 15-man roster.
The experts who rated each player ranked them in terms of “the current quality of each player.” Here are the rankings for the Mavericks, alongside a notable player for comparison.
#463 – Jared Cunningham – Comparison: Mike Bibby, 472
#447 – Bernard James – Comparison: Hasheem Thabeet, 443
#381 – Dominique Jones – Comparison: Jonny Flynn, 386
#339 – Jae Crowder – Comparison: Kelenna Azubuike, 345
#301 – Dahntay Jones – Comparison: DeShawn Stevenson, 319
#212 – Brandan Wright – Comparison: Drew Gooden, 213
#204 – Roddy Beaubois – Comparison: Corey Brewer, 203
#185 – Vince Carter – Comparison: Richard Jefferson, 181
#159 – Delonte West – Comparison: Jason Kidd, 157
#113 – Chris Kaman – Comparison: Kendrick Perkins, 120
#98 – Darren Collison – Comparison: Jose Calderon, 96
#92 – Shawn Marion – Comparison: Thaddeus Young, 91
#90 – O.J. Mayo – Comparison: Jason Terry, 81
#85 – Elton Brand – Comparison: Taj Gibson, 82
#11 – Dirk Nowitzki – Comparison: Kevin Love, 7
ESPN.com’s panel views the Mavericks in a lone star way as Dirk Nowitzki is the only player ranked inside the top 50. Here at The Two Man Game, we’re down for a discussion or starting another string of debates. Over the next few days, we’ll have player capsules for each Maverick and rank them in terms of projected importance for the team this coming season. It’ll start with the back end of the roster and work our way up to Dirk, whoops, I mean the top of the roster. Here are players 15 to 10.
15. Jared Cunningham | G | Age: 21 |
Cunningham was selected by Cleveland in the first round (24th overall), but his draft rights were traded to Dallas along with the rights to Bernard James (33rd overall) and Jae Crowder (34th overall) in exchanged for Kelenna Azubuike and the draft rights to Tyler Zeller (17th overall).
While the roster was thin at the start of free agency, Cunningham was potentially primed to be a part of the main rotation for the Mavericks. With the acquisitions of Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo and bringing back Delonte West, minutes will be few and far between for the rookie out of Oregon State. That might be a good thing for him as he works on adapting to the next level. He will see a fair share of time in Frisco with the Mavericks’ affiliate in the Development League, the Texas Legends.
14. Bernard James | C | Age: 27 |
There is a chance for older rookie to get minutes at the center position as there are health concerns amongst the players ahead of him on the depth chart. James showed some promise in the Vegas Summer League as he averaged 10.2 points, with team-highs of 9.0 rebounds and 2.6 blocks and 26.2 minutes in five games (all starts). Among all players at the Vegas Summer League, James ranked third in blocks and fifth in rebounding.
While known as a defensive-minded big man, coach Rick Carlisle noted during the team’s media day that James has developed a repertoire on offense that will keep the opposing team honest. At age 27, James will have to work the learning curve to his advantage as he tries to continue to learn the game at the highest level. He will likely spend some time with Cunningham in Frisco.
13. Dominique Jones | G | Age: 23 |
This is a make or break year for the guard out of the University of South Florida. In 51 games in the NBA (one start), Jones has averaged 2.5 points, 1.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 7.9 minutes. Jones came into the league needing to develop a respectable jump shot as he was known as a player who had the athleticism and frame to get to the rim and finish at the basket. To this point, Jones’ jumper still remains a question mark. He remains a player who doesn’t have a set position, as well.
With the acquisitions of Collison and Mayo, Jones has his work cut out for him in trying to make an impact on the roster. The fact that the Mavericks also acquired Cunningham on draft night may possibly put the writing on the wall that Jones needs to find a way to produce this year and do so quickly.
12. Dahntay Jones | G/F | Age: 31 |
The older D. Jones comes in at 12 on the list. Jones was acquired from Indiana along with Darren Collison in exchange for Ian Mahinmi in mid July. In 511 career games (138 starts), Jones holds career averages of 6.0 points, 1.9 rebounds and 16.8 minutes.
Jones’ game starts and ends on the defensive end of the floor. He can make the opposition pay as he can hit the three point shot, too. He could be a call back to DeShawn Stevenson and many people wouldn’t be upset about that. The numbers in 2010-11 for Stevenson and Jones in 2011-12 are very comparable. Jones averaged 5.3 points on 40.9 percent shooting from the field and 42.9 percent from three-point range in just over 16.2 minutes per game for the Pacers last year. Stevenson averaged 5.3 points on 38.8 percent shooting from the field and 37.8 percent from three-point range in 16.1 minutes per game in 2010-11 for the Mavericks.
While he might not have the tattoos Stevenson has, Jones certainly brings a toughness and edge to the floor that will be useful when minutes are needed. Like Stevenson, Jones will have to be participating Rick Carlisle’s Church of Be Ready as he minutes will be sporadic.
11. Jae Crowder | G/F | Age: 22 |
While Jared Cunningham and Bernard James appear to be rookies that will spend most of their time in Frisco, Jae Crowder could be a man who emerges as a potential rotation player by the end of the season. With Vince Carter logging minutes at the two and the three and possibly being a health concern as he advances in age, Crowder could get minutes behind Carter and Shawn Marion. At Marquette, Crowder earned Big East Player of the Years honors as a senior and was named Second Team by the Associated Press.
Crowder’s overall frame, 6-6, 235 pounds, combined with his agility and athleticism makes him a basketball player with a NFL linebacker’s build. His footwork and tenacity on defense makes him a valuable weapon as he can switch off between guards and forwards when defending the pick-and-roll. Crowder still is a work in progress on the offensive end of the floor, but he has impressed coaches and fans with his ability to extend his range with his jumper. He was one of the bigger surprises during the Vegas Summer League, so he’s got positive momentum heading into his rookie season. Crowder will be a player to watch.
10-6 coming on Friday.