As the position evaluation moves on, we land at the power forward spot. Needless to say, the Mavs haven’t had to worry about filling this position in terms of a starter for an entire season for a long time. Dirk Nowitzki remains the franchise. If all goes well, Dirk will likely retire a Maverick when the time is right. The good news in that situation is that possibility still seems further down the road.
Dallas has had Shawn Marion become the ultimate security blanket for them as he’s been able to move up and fill the backup power forward position for the team over the last couple of years. They also took a chance and gave Brandan Wright more of an opportunity to play at that position. With Dirk firmly established as the starting power forward, it’s worth looking at how the team is in terms of depth behind him.
Summing it up:
The guys did an admirable job doing what they could while Dirk was out for the first portion of the season. Dallas had quite a few options to work with in terms of backups. As it was mentioned above, they had Shawn Marion and Brandan Wright log minutes behind Dirk. Wright logged time as the backup center, but they found certain lineups that allowed the lanky big man to slide down to the four spot.
It was actually surprising that the Mavs went ahead with playing Wright at that spot. When he joined the team prior to the 2011-12 season, he said he felt more like a power forward than a center and Rick Carlisle immediately said afterwards that they envisioned him being solely a center.
It wasn’t sunshine and daffodils the entire time, though. For a brief time, try 81 minutes, they tried Elton Brand as the power forward next to Chris Kaman. Those two worked together well when they played together for the Los Angeles Clippers between 2003 and 2007. It didn’t necessarily work in 2012 as the combination was a -26 in their time together.
What do they need?
First off, they need Dirk to stay healthy. It starts and ends with him being ready to go for as many games as possible. There’s been a question that’s lingered over the last 5-7 years when it comes to the backup power forward position. Do you go with someone who operates closer to the rim at the power forward position or do you go with a stretch 4? The Mavs certainly tried to go with the stretch 4 when they brought Troy Murphy into the mix. Remember him?
If the Mavs intend on bringing Brandan Wright back, I doubt it’s with the primary intention to back up the team’s best player. He can operate in that position, but they probably want to continue their development with him as part of a platoon at the center position. If they could establish another three-headed monster at that position, that would be ideal.
If Wright is coming back, it would probably be ideal to have more of a physical presence backing Dirk up. It’s not that Wright is soft or anything, but he’s not going to be confused with a bodybuilder. What makes him dynamic as a player is his size and mobility. It only makes sense to match that up with someone who will be physical and battle in the trenches.
The free agent pool isn’t that stacked for talent in that position, at least not in the form of a cheaper backup power forward. The draft could be a route the Mavs look at replenishing that position. That being said, it’s not incredibly likely that they would find a power forward to eventually groom into Dirk’s spot. It’s not like they would necessarily want to do that either since both Dirk and the franchise believe that he has more than a year or two left of prime basketball left in him.
If the pieces work out, they’re likely hoping that they can bring Wright back, and have him as a third option behind Shawn Marion.
Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He also attended Ball So Hard University, studying ideologies of Clark Kent. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.