Almost done with the Rorschach test of the 2013-14 Mavs roster.
Monta Ellis is the big free agent acquisition for the Mavs this summer. Devin Harris is the comeback kid who has now matured over time. Bernard James is the second-year center who is looking to keep growing into a role in the NBA. Shane Larkin is the team’s first-round draft pick who has something to prove. Ricky Ledo is the team’s second-round draft pick who has potential to be a scoring machine.
Let’s take a look of each of them in a little more detail.
One word: Balance
The balance of success for the Mavs will likely depend on how Monta Ellis fits in for them. Mark Cuban has insisted they don’t rely heavily on the results of players on previous teams and count more on their potential to fit within the system they’ve established. Jason Terry, Tyson Chandler and even Vince Carter are examples of success stories. O.J. Mayo, Darren Collison and Lamar Odom are some of the sob stories.
What those examples basically cite is that the past success doesn’t always guarantee anything in regards to what they’ll do with the Mavs. Broken down players can either revitalize their careers or they continue to break down. Successful players can meander and go off course. Monta Ellis has had highs and lows during his career. This next test will go a long way in defining the trajectory for both himself and the organization.
One word: Sparkplug
The Mavs will be hoping that this reunion between a former draftee will have similar results to their previous one in Jason Kidd. No, they’re not expecting Harris to be the leader of the Mavs, but they’re hoping Harris can be a difference maker.
His role will change from what they initially planned when they planned to sign him earlier in the offseason. He was slated to be the starting shooting guard going alongside Jose Calderon, but he will now be the first guard off the bench for the team. His energy and defense should be a huge spark off the bench for the Mavs. Harris’ versatility could be huge, but his health will be the biggest question mark for him.
One word: Dangling
James was a cap casualty at first as the Mavs had to free up remaining space to sign Monta Ellis. As the Mavs were primed to sign DeJuan Blair, they were still in pursuit of Greg Oden. If things changed and Oden decided to sign with Dallas instead of Miami, the Mavs would have had 16 players on their roster.
That wouldn’t be an issue at this point of the offseason. They only need to be at the league-mandated number of 15 just prior to the start of the season. The thing is, the franchise has already showed their hand that the second-year center, who turns 29 in February, is expendable. If there is an option that emerges either in training camp or later in the year, James is a very likely option in terms of being expendable. In his limited time, he will have to show the Mavs that they would be making a mistake if they let him go.
One word: Concealed
His true value to the team as their No. 1 draft pick remains hidden as he was unable to participate in the Las Vegas Summer League due to suffering a broken ankle on the final day of practice before the team left for Vegas.
Larkin came into the league with an explosive vertical, off the dribble shooting skills and pick-and-roll creativity. He, alongside fellow rookie point guard Gal Mekel, will have a learning curve they will have to deal with. They’ll both likely have to cut their teeth with a trip down the tollway to Frisco. Time with the Texas Legends will help them throughout the year. There is a ton of potential with Larkin, but the true ceiling for him remains to be seen.
One word: Upside
Grantland’s Zach Lowe provided a nice back story of the complexity of signing a second-round draft pick such as Ledo. The upshot is that the Mavs guaranteed Ledo $1.3 million for his first two years. Even though the game is changing, it’s still rare to see that kind of commitment to someone who was drafted in the second round.
Playing in the Las Vegas Summer League was the first time Ledo has played organized ball in just over a year. He has smoothness to his game that is pretty fun to watch. He looks comfortable playing off the dribble and decent enough court vision to find the open man when he’s going to the rim. Ledo’s shooting form and release does resemble a poor man’s Kevin Durant, but he’s still got a long, long way to go before he can get in that neighborhood. The Mavs have invested him in, so it’s up to him now to deliver. He’ll be doing most of that developing in Frisco with the Texas Legends.
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.