Running the Weave: Underrated

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on August 20, 2013 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment


The crew at the Two Man Game continues to run the weave.

On Monday, the crew assembled and gave their insight on who they prefer out of Shane Larkin and Gal Mekel as the young point guard prospect to keep for the immediate future. The results were mixed. We’ll have to see how the season plays out for those two young guards as they embark on their first lap through the NBA.

This next question takes a look at the players that were in the mix at last week’s introductory press conference.

Let’s see what the crew had to say.

Who do you feel will be the most underrated Mavs signing of the offseason?


Kirk Henderson, @KirkSeriousFace: Brandan Wright. He was one of the few bright spots during a frustrating 2012-13 season. Signing a multi-functional big man who is 26 to a single-digit contract ($5 million per year for two years) is incredible in my mind. The offseason narrative tends to focus on the Maverick back court, with Wright’s contract becoming somewhat of a foregone conclusion. I know he’s not going to give a team more than 20-25 minutes per game (last season he averaged 18 minutes), but I’m really surprised no other team came along and offered Wright a longer contract.

I’m really excited to see what Wright can do with three playmakers at the helm in Jose Calderon, Monta Ellis, and Devin Harris. I also think he immediately becomes one of the top trade commodities for Dallas; he has both an appealing contract and intriguing, if limited, upside potential.

David Hopkins, @davidhopkins: Brandan Wright. “Most underrated signing” is different from “best signing.” I’m most excited about the addition of Jose Calderon (a better starting point guard than what they had last season) and Monta Ellis (a better starting shooting guard than what they had last season). However, yes, I think the signing of Brandan Wright is the most underrated. Darn it. I just can’t give up on this guy. He’s an efficient scorer and a good inside presence when paired with the right people. I don’t see him as a center, so I hope maybe some minutes off the bench at the power forward position would help the Mavs.

Connor Huchton, @ConnorHuchton: I expect to look back fondly on the Brandan Wright signing in a couple of years. Wright’s improved each year with the Mavericks, and I’ve come to enjoy his game quite a bit on an aesthetic level. The Mavericks signed an athletic, efficient finisher on a fairly cheap deal, and at a time when he still has a couple more years of improvement looming. A lukewarm summer, sure, but Wright’s addition shines well.

Ian Levy, @HickoryHigh: Bernard James. There was a point where it looked like the Mavericks weren’t going to be able to bring him back, and alongside Dirk Nowitzki, DeJuan Blair, Brandan Wright and Samuel Dalembert he seems like an afterthought. But Wright is still thoroughly lacking defensively and as a rebounder, and Dalembert hasn’t averaged 30-plus minutes per game since the 2007-2008 season. Making the playoffs this season is ultimately going to come down to handful of games, which means exploiting matchups when they present themselves and making a few extra plays around the margins.

There will be more than a few situations this season where James’ ability to sop up 10-12 minutes while controlling the glass and keeping opponents away from the rim could be the difference between victory and defeat. This season’s success will be determined at the margins and that’s exactly where Bernard James lives.

Brian Rubaie, @DirksRevenge: Monta Ellis. Some level alarm of alarm was to be expected, but the volume of national criticism and level of outrage among Mavericks nation took me by surprise. Much of the criticism of Ellis’ game is a well-earned reflection of the reputation he developed along an up-and-down road littered with ill-advised shots. Ellis’ past clearly raises red flags; very few players with his level of talent should be available for his price tag in late July.

The glass-half-empty view overlooks both Monta’s considerable upside and the culture of accountability in Dallas. Before his scoring dipped slightly in Milwaukee, Ellis posted five 20-plus point seasons among his last six with the Warriors. In Dallas, he’ll join a disciplined offensive unit that maximizes his skill set, where he will be paired alongside a former MVP. He’ll also be guided by a championship coach with little tolerance for selfish, misguided shot attempts. The primary criticism of Carlisle is that his leash with players is too short, but a bit of tough love could do Ellis a world of good.

Travis Wimberly, @TravisRW: I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s probably Monta Ellis. I wanted to say Jose Calderon, due to the importance of having a legitimate starting point to pair with Dirk. But the question asked about “most underrated,” and I think fewer people are underrating Calderon than Ellis (the primary complaint about Calderon has been an entirely misguided one about the length of his contract–but that’s a story for another day).

Ellis has a chance to be the second-best player who’s ever played with Dirk. He’s physically capable of things no Maverick has been able to do since, maybe, Michael Finley in his prime. At $8M/year, his contract has greater per-dollar value than most of us thought when it was first reported at possibly $10M/year. If Rick Carlisle can reign in his shot selection–big if–his poor efficiency will improve, mitigating the biggest problem with his game. His defense isn’t necessarily great, but it’s never made much sense to complain about a non-superstar player being one-sided. At Ellis’s price tag of $8M/year, you’re almost surely either going to get: (1) a great, but one-sided, offensive player; (2) a great, but one-sided, defensive player; or (3) a player who is serviceable at both ends but impressive at neither. The first option isn’t so bad, especially on a roster that desperately needs some scoring punch to complement Dirk’s.