The small forward position actually provides the most depth the Mavs had over the course of the season. The only change they saw was the addition of rookie Jae Crowder. Vince Carter was in his second year with the organization, and Shawn Marion was once again the starting small forward.
Summing it up:
Shawn Marion dealt with some nagging injuries over the course of the season, but he was arguably the team’s best or most consistent player. He was certainly the most underrated player for the team. He averaged a team-high 7.8 rebounds per game for the Mavs. That’s great that Marion was able to rebound at that clip, but it also suggests that they had a major rebounding issue.
Marion also had 73 three-point shots for the Mavs this season, the most he’s attempted for the Mavs and the most since he attempted 167 for the Phoenix Suns during the 2007-08 season. Clearly, he was more proficient from the corners as he shot 17-of-50 (34.0 percent) on corner 3s. For those curious, the right corner was his better side as he went 8-of-18 (44.4 percent) on right corner 3s. Whether the amount of 3s is a good thing or bad thing isn’t the major issue. Marion remained extremely valuable as he was able to plug up different holes for the team. Whether they needed a strong defensive, rebounding or scoring effort, Marion stepped up.
What can be said about Vince Carter’s season? From a player’s perspective, he got the highest praise you could receive as owner Mark Cuban called him a “warrior” near the end of the season. With bench scoring being an issue, Carter stepped up by averaging 13.4 points off the bench for Dallas. His scoring helped lead the charge as the Mavs averaged a league-high 41.5 bench points per game in 2012-13.
Carter was stellar from 3-point range as he made a team-high 162 3-pointers and shot 40.6 percent from long range. It tied his career-high for most 3-point field goals made in a season (162 for Toronto during the 2000-01 season). He started in three games for the Mavs during the season, so 158 of his 3-point makes came off the bench, tying for the most 3-pointers made off the bench for the year (Oklahoma City’s Kevin Martin also made 158).
Carter’s individual and team defense was underrated, as well. For a better portion of the year, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle would often cite that Carter led the team in charges taken. At 36, Carter taking charges and showing a strong defensive disposition showed that he was willing to do whatever was necessary to try to help the team win.
When looking at the season as a whole, Crowder’s rookie season should be seen as a relative success, especially for a second-round draft pick. Crowder actually started in eight games for the Mavs during the time Dirk Nowitzki sat out. The lights didn’t seem too bright for Crowder as he scored eight points on 3-of-7 shooting with three rebounds and two assists in the team’s season debut against the Los Angeles Lakers. Crowder ended the season logging 1,353 minutes, establishing himself as a part of the rotation. That is the most total of minutes played by a Mavs rookie since Josh Howard played 1,589 minutes during the 2003-04 season.
What do they need?
For both Marion and Carter, they need continued health and to avoid rapid deterioration to their respective games. With roster turnover expected again, those two players will be asked to continue to handle the veteran leadership role of the team, alongside Dirk Nowitzki. If those two can bring the types of efforts they brought during this season into next season, that will be a good starting point to the team’s core.
For Crowder, he needs to continue to refine his game. He shot 32.8 percent from 3 during the season. Considering he wasn’t really known as a shooter coming into the league, it remains to be seen on whether or not that’s a sign of promise or that it’s troubling. If he plans to continue his development as a 3-point shooter, he’ll need to continue to develop his stroke from the corners as that’s where he was most proficient during the season. He has the potential to be a difference maker off the bench for the Mavs. If he can develop his shooting touch and remain versatile in defending shooting guards and small forwards, he has a chance to really be a hit as a second-round draft pick.
The position appears to be the healthiest in terms of depth, but it is also the most fluid based on the potential of all three players being traded away to get better assets.