Here is the final part to the Rorschach test of the 2013-14 Mavs roster.
Shawn Marion has been the team’s basketball spackle, helping alleviate whatever issue the team is having. Gal Mekel, the second Israeli player in NBA history, was the team’s first free agent acquisition of the summer. Dirk Nowitzki is the man who emerges from the phone booth. Brandan Wright is the returning big man who provided a strong spark off the bench last season.
Let’s take a look of each of them in a little more detail.
One word: Hopeful
Marion has been the glue that has kept the team together over the last three seasons. His defense and timely scoring during the championship year was invaluable. His consistency and effort over the last two years has been incredible.
The versatile forward, 35, is playing in the final year of his deal. He will be motivated to perform in order to earn one more solid contract. Marion has usually come into camp the last few years as the guy who is ready to go from day one. That said, injuries have taken a toll of his body. With such a pressing need for defense, any setbacks by Marion could be crippling to the Mavs.
One word: Wildcard
While Shane Larkin had to sit out during the Las Vegas Summer League, Gal Mekel was the biggest bright spot of the team. His court vision is quite impressive. Watching him work as he goes around the screen is something you have to pay attention to. He has Steve Nash-like capabilities as he likes to poke and prod the defense with his dribble penetration.
He still has to adapt to the NBA game, develop a consistent long-range shot and ensure he can endure an 82-game season. Speaking to Mekel and his trainer in Vegas left me quite impressed with his back story and work getting into the NBA. I hope to explain this in better detail leading up to training camp. With more seasoning, he could emerge as a consistent contributor.
One word: Underrated
He’s gone from the baddest man on the planet in 2011 to being seen as a man who is done. Mark Cuban was adamant about his disapproval of analysts suggesting that Dirk is done as a top level NBA player. Things have worked against the Tall Baller from the G over the last two years and that has created more detractors. A man like Dirk is a competitor. He also pays attention to what is being said. The doubts are fuel for his fire.
He’s worked out heavily this summer to ensure his legs are ready for the year. Dirk is also playing this season as a father. While he wants to win another championship, he wants to be a role model to his daughter and show that her father still has a little bit of magic left in his game. It wouldn’t be wise to count him out.
One word: Pick-up
The big man finished the season particularly strong before becoming a free agent, averaging 11.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 24 minutes per game to help the Mavs go 15-8 down the stretch. Many hoped that Wright would return to the Mavs and they’re figurative prayers were answered.
His role last season was up and down, but the hope is that he fully emerges as the first backup big man off the bench for the Mavs this coming season. There were surprising results when the Mavs paired Wright and Nowitzki together. There are flaws to that combination, but they showed some versatile potential together. Wright’s ability to play either the power forward or center position, so the Mavs are hoping his performance in the home stretch of last season can be a springboard into this coming season.
Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He also attended Ball So Hard University. Bryan channels his inner-Clark Kent on a day-to-day basis. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.