The Mavericks have arrived at the halfway point of the season. Needless to say, things haven’t gone exactly to plan. Things certainly change when your once-in-a-generation superstar has to miss over a quarter of the season due to a knee surgery. Despite some moments where things looked incredibly bleak, the Mavericks still remain in the thick of it when it comes to competing for a playoff spot.
Outside of young students or struggling players, who doesn’t love report cards or roster evaluations? With the ranking system I used just before the start of the preseason (which can be seen here, here, and here), let’s take an honest look at each player and how they fared during the first half of the season.
15. Jared Cunningham
4 Games Played | 2.0 PPG | 42.9% FG | 66.7% 3FG | -9 for the year
The first-round draft pick for the Mavericks hasn’t exactly seen a heavy share of minutes this season. When drafted, it seemed as if there would be an opportunity for him to develop with actual playing time on the floor. With the acquisitions of Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo, those minutes have quickly dried up. The team still wants to develop him as a point guard, but they definitely don’t plan to do that development on the fly with significant playing time with the team. Unless a major rash of injuries break out, Cunningham’s rookie season will be an uneventful one.
14. Bernard James
21 Games Played | 3.4 PPG | 49.1% FG | 3.3 RPG | -4 for the year
Sarge has been a noticeable bright spot for the Mavericks in his rookie season. Whenever the team has needed a spark, he’s been able to infuse the team with energy and a significant presence down in the post. He’s also been one of the team’s better rebounders in the limited time he’s actually been on the court. With a need for better rebounding, it’s curious to see that James hasn’t seen a lot of action and has actually spent more time on the inactive list. Either way, it seems as if they found a nice piece for the future in Sarge.
13. Dominique Jones
24 Games Played | 4.1 PPG | 34.3% FG | 3.3 APG | -18 for the year
Oh, DoJo. The guard out of South Florida has had a roller coaster ride of a season thus far. He’s gone from nearly traded, nearly exiled, to starting point guard, to primary backup point guard to out of the mix once again. There were flashes during the season where his performances could have had lined up to take the starting point guard position on a permanent basis. Darren Collison emerged from the pack to take the position away. Jones was somewhat critical of the team and questioned why fans would bother coming to games during the team’s rough losing skid to end the calendar year. Since then, he’s pretty much found a permanent spot at the end of the bench.
Grade: See Me After Class
12. Dahntay Jones
41 Games Played | 3.6 PPG | 35.5% FG | 13.6 MPG | -56 for the year
Even though his shooting percentages have been dreadful, Dahntay has given the team what they needed in the form of a pesky defender. When Dirk Nowitzki was out during the earlier chunk of the season, Jones found himself as the starting small forward for the team. He’s been able to tackle the responsibility of guarding the opposing team’s primary perimeter option and do so in a positive manner. He could serve as a piece to help the team during their playoff push or as a versatile trade chip.
11. Jae Crowder
38 Games Played | 5.7 PPG | 42.9% FG | 0.97 SPG | -5 for the year
The positive momentum Crowder had coming from the Summer League and the preseason emerged during the early portion of the season. He was playing tough defense and making the opposition pay by hitting perimeter shots. As expected, he hit the rookie wall after that initial wave of the season passed. His shot has failed him over stretches of time, but he has brought an energy level to the team that has impressed his coach. Like Bernard James, it seems as if the Mavericks were able to find a piece in the second round of the draft that can help them going forward.
10. Brandan Wright
26 Games Played | 7.4 PPG | 63.2% FG | 2.9 RPG | -33 for the year
Brandan Wright has been a part of one of the bigger disappearing acts in recent history for the Mavericks. At first, it appeared that maybe Rick Carlisle was selectively picking spots for the athletic big man to see action. Now, it just appears that he’s completely fallen out of the rotation. He has developed a shooting touch that can extend out to about 15 feet, but he still remains a liability on the defensive end of the floor and on the glass. With Chris Kaman and Elton Brand established at the center position and Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion taking up real estate at the power forward position, Wright is clearly the odd man out. That could mean Wright’s time with the Mavericks is running out.
9. Roddy Beaubois
30 Games Played | 3.0 PPG | 31.1% FG | 23.8% 3FG | -23 for the year
Roddy, Roddy, Roddy. There was a time where the Mavericks considered him the second most important player on the roster due to his overall potential. Those days are now long gone. Going into the season, both Roddy and Darren Collison were coming into their fourth year in the league. There was a major difference between the two of them as Collison had built up some sweat equity as a player who could perform, while Roddy was still an enigma. He’s fallen in and out of the rotation throughout the year. It honestly feels like a change of scenery will do the young guard some good.
8. Delonte West
0 Games Played | 0.0 PPG | 0.00% FG | 0.00% 3FG | 0 for the year
We likely will never know the true story of what led to Delonte West being exiled from the team, but it easily could have been a variety of scenarios. Was he unhappy about his contract situation? Did the front office feel he could threaten the potential of O.J. Mayo? Whatever it was, it was enough for them to take the hit at the backup guard position and have him walk out the door. West severely misplayed his hand and is paying the price for it. To make matters worse, no one else in the league has given him a call to see if West could help them out. Things certainly could have been different if things didn’t go sideways between the Mavericks and West.
Grade: N/A (Absent)
7. Vince Carter
42 Games Played | 12.3 PPG | 41.7% FG | 37.4% 3FG | +44 for the year
You can make a very compelling argument that Vince Carter has been the biggest bright spot for the Mavericks this season. He might have the greenest green light you’ll ever see out of a shooter, but it’s hard to argue with the results he’s given to the team this season. He’s also led the charge, pun intended, in regards to stepping up as a defender and taking charges. Carter has elevated his game in a big way for the Mavericks. Around the league, Carter’s name is likely going to pop up quite a bit in trade discussions. It’ll be up to the Mavericks to decide what they want to do with their sixth man.
6. Chris Kaman
40 Games Played | 12.6 PPG | 50.5% FG | 1.8 FTA | -104 for the year
Kaman is who he is. He’s a versatile, scoring big man. He won’t be confused for Dwight Howard or any other imposing center when it comes to defense. That being said, his rebounding has still be an issue. Kaman’s 6.3 rebounds/game average would be the second lowest of his career. He averaged 5.6 rebounds/game in his rookie year. It feels like Kaman likes to operate further away from the basket, even though he has a great set of moves in the post. That theory would also coincide with the fact he only averages 1.8 free throw attempts per game. With a one year deal, he simply might be a transitional player at the center position. He is what he is.
5. Darren Collison
41 Games Played | 12.9 PPG | 48.3% FG | 5.2 APG | -101 for the year
The jury is still out on whether or not Collison can still be a starting point guard for a team with championship aspirations. There are moments where he seems better utilized as a change of pace guard off the bench, but there are times where he can operate in the half-court. Clearly, he is better suited to work in transition and he still struggles in operating in screen and roll situations, but he’s still working to improve that facet of his game. Collison has felt the wrath of his coach as he’s had to sit on the bench during crunch time. To this point, he keeps coming back for more and does so with a very positive attitude. It will be an interesting second half for the young guard.
4. Elton Brand
38 Games Played | 7.6 PPG | 47.9% FG | 6.4 RPG | -14 for the year
As it was mentioned in the Rundown, Brand is coming into his own with the Mavericks. While he doesn’t provide the emotional or spiritual lift that Tyson Chandler gave to the team when he was on board during the 2010-11 season, Brand has definitely brought a defensive toughness and edge in the painted area. Brand remained confident as his 15-18 foot jumper temporarily disappeared during the early portion of the year. The shot has come around and his overall performance has been exemplary. You definitely take notice when Brand is on the floor as he can impact the game on both ends of the floor.
3. Shawn Marion
35 Games Played | 10.6 PPG | 48.9% FG | 8.2 RPG | -147 for the year
Shawn Marion is Mr. Reliable. Whatever you need him to do, Marion will do it to help the team. Whether or not it is a good thing or bad thing remains to be seen, but the fact remains that Shawn Marion is the best rebounder the Mavericks have. He has developed into somewhat of a weapon on offense with the corner 3. No matter what happens on offense, he will still be known as the defensive stopper that will be up to the challenge every single night. Even amongst the team’s own fans, Marion still remains one of the most under appreciated players on the team and in the entire league.
2. O.J. Mayo
42 Games Played | 18.2 PPG | 45.9% FG | 42.6% 3FG | -73 for the year
Mayo started the year on fire from the field. The natural course slippage came around. He still has room for improvement, but Mayo has taken a huge step in terms of being a facilitator and doing so without turning the ball over. Ball security was a major issue for Mayo during the low period for the team. If he can continue to tap into his potential, the Mavericks could make up ground in a hurry. The team seems to go as Mayo goes. That just shows he is truly valuable to the squad.
1. Dirk Nowitzki
15 Games Played | 13.9 PPG | 40.8 % FG | 5.6 RPG | -42 for the year
It’s incredibly difficult to grade Dirk. The valedictorian hasn’t been able to hand in his thesis due to an epic case of the flu. Okay, the analogy went off course, but you get the point. He still hasn’t rounded into form. There have only been brief flashes of the old Dirk Nowitzki, the one who can dominate games and could easily be the best player on the planet on any given night. Based on his relentless work ethic, you have to imagine he’ll round into form in due time. It’s not a coincidence that the team has gotten better as he’s come back into the mix. Even as a decoy, Dirk can change the game. As he continues to progress and head towards his peak for the season, it could all line up as the team makes their frantic push to the finish line for a playoff spot.
Grade: Extension Granted
Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.