The Rorschach test of the 2013-14 Mavs roster continues.
Jae Crowder comes in after seeing what life in the NBA really means. Mark Cuban dusts himself off after striking out on another max-out free agent. Samuel Dalembert steps in as the new starting center for the Mavs. Wayne Ellington provides the team one of potentially multiple value signings they made for their bench this season.
Let’s take a look of each of them in a little more detail.
One word: Transitional
Seeing Crowder in Vegas during the summer league left me wanting more. It seemed like he settled too much for the jumper. To his credit, his versatility on defense made him the best defender on the summer league squad. As he finally got into a groove, he mixed his game up on offense and got to the rim. Unfortunately, an ankle injury cut his time in Vegas short.
The injury was apparently a serious issue as he needed rehab for it after the summer league. Defense and grit got him drafted in the league. He needs to continue evolving his game on the offense end and avoid settling. By losing 15 pounds in the offseason, he’ll have the ability to float between positions. He’ll need to be ready for anything in his second season.
One word: Determined
The owner of the Mavs set the tone early in the offseason that he was focused on making 2012-13 an aberration. The results of that still remain to be seen, but he’s been working on making sure his team is ready for the season.
Cuban recognized there was room for improvement and nabbed one of the best available assets in the field as they brought on Gersson Rosas from Houston to be the team’s GM. The franchise has taken a hit over the last two seasons. The team has gone from winning their first championship to having to prove their value with people questioning their methods. He’s been knocked down over the last two years in the eyes of the public. A man as determined as Cuban usually responds appropriately when they’ve been knocked down.
One word: Inspired
ESPNDallas.com’s Tim MacMahon had a nice statistical breakdown of the center position last year. The Mavs will be hoping that they found another “damaged goods” center like they did prior to the 2011 season.
That’s not to say Samuel Dalembert is Tyson Chandler. They will hope that they’ve found a center that has meandered through the league and finds a home in Dallas. With health and a good culture established in the locker room, the hope is Dalembert finds a situation in Dallas that brings out the best in his game. His defense and rebounding will be desperately needed.
One word: Secret
The league desperately needs 3-and-D guys. Those role players who can space the floor with their shooting and ability to mix it up on defense really separate average teams to good teams and good teams from elite teams. Consistency also separates a journeyman from a good player.
The Mavs will already be behind the 8-ball in terms of defense on the perimeter with Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis logging heavy minutes in the backcourt. Mixing it up with Devin Harris and Wayne Ellington could bring a different kind of punch off the bench. Ellington has shot .382 percent on 3s for his career. Based on the weapons around him, he should get some of the best looks he’s had in his career. His minutes might be scarce, but he needs to make the most of them. If he does, Ellington could prove to be a substantial difference maker for the team.
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.