One of the driving forces in sports today is the idea of the narrative. By definition, a narrative is the representation in art of an event or story. Narratives can be on the nose, but they can often be lazy cookie cutter analysis. That said, it can be quite a driving force in storytelling.
LeBron James had the narrative of being unable to come up clutch. With the game on the line, James would often pass to an open teammate for a game-winning shot. Even though it was the fundamentally sound play, James was lambasted by the media for not taking the last shot. Kobe Bryant is often cited as a clutch player when he’s often missed more game-winning shots than he’s made. Dirk Nowitzki has had his own narrative as many labeled him soft and said he couldn’t be a player that could lead a team to a title.
With a new cast of characters, there’s already a set of narratives in place for all of them. Will they hold true or will they be broken? In order to decide, it’s wise to establish what the narratives are.
DeJuan Blair – Blair fell out of the rotation in San Antonio. During the introductory press conference Dallas had earlier this summer, Blair stated that things would have been different for his former team in the Finals if he had played. He got a little heat from Spurs fans for that comment based on the fact the writing was already on the wall in regards to how the team valued him based on his playing time. The big man has a chip on his shoulder. We’ll see what he’s able to do with it for a new team.
Jose Calderon – The story on Calderon is the fact he is one of the best pure point guards in the league. Despite that fact, he is often underrated. He draws comparisons to Steve Nash with his ability to put the ball in the right spots for his teammates and his ability to shoot the ball with great efficiency. Calderon is also compared to Nash due to his inability to really stay in front of the player he is defending.
Vince Carter – Half man, half amazing is still trying to prove he still has some game left. Carter has redeveloped his game since coming to Dallas, emerging as a consistent scoring threat off the bench, a leader in the locker room and an example for defensive disposition in timely situations. Around the league, Carter is merely seen as a shell of his former self. In Dallas, he’s still an extremely valuable component to their rotation.
Jae Crowder – The second-year forward has to work off his touch-and-go rookie year. He found himself in the rotation last season, but he often fell in love with the perimeter jumper. He came into the league as a grinder who could be a stout defender and provide hustle and energy. There were flashes of that, but his propensity to shoot long-range jumpers often stood out most in his rookie year.
Samuel Dalembert – Some have labeled that Dalembert is looking to have a Tyson Chandler-like impact on the Dallas Mavericks. Those proclamations definitely need to be put on ice for the time being. He needs to show that he has the ability to stick within the system, considering Dallas will be the fifth team he’s played for in five years. As a defensive-minded center, he does provide a nice compliment alongside Dirk Nowitzki on defense.
Wayne Ellington – It’s a pretty straight forward narrative for this new Mav. As a “3-and-D” guy, Ellington is going to be a specialist for the Mavs. Dallas will hope that Ellington is DeShawn Stevenson without the tattoos and neck piercing.
Monta Ellis – “Monta Ellis have it all.” What else really needs to be said? There’s an intriguing angle I’m want whether or not it plays out or not. Time will tell. I’ll explain at a later date.
Devin Harris – Another Mav makes a comeback appearance in Dallas as Harris reunites with the organization. Older fans will remember that injuries always got in the way of the progress Harris was making during his first stint in Dallas. They will also remember that he often landed in the doghouse of then coach Avery Johnson. Stat lovers notice that Harris emerged as a nice defensive option at the shooting guard position last season with the Hawks. The Mavs certainly wouldn’t hate if that held up this year.
Bernard James – “Sarge” is going to have some work to do in year two. He was known for his spring off the floor to go after rebounds, but he often only kept the ball alive. Rather than creating more scramble opportunities, the Mavs will want him to secure those rebounds. With the Mavs always looking to improve their roster, he will be the player that will probably be on the hot seat if they need to make someone expendable.
Shane Larkin – The rookie coming off ankle surgery has been compared to J.J. Barea ever since the moment he was drafted due to his ability to score off the pick-and-roll. The guard out of Miami has heard those comparisons but has said he feels like he is more of a Ty Lawson-like player. Either way, the Mavs would love it if they got either of those players out of Larkin.
Ricky Ledo – Ledo is still a slab of clay that could be formed into anything the Mavs really are looking for. His wiry frame, athleticism and smooth shooting provide optimism for the future. Ledo will still have a long way to go before he could potentially be a permanent fixture for the Mavs. He’s still a young gun that has a lot of seasoning left to go through.
Shawn Marion – Marion has been the team’s most consistent player over the last couple of seasons. No matter the situation, Marion’s provided basketball spackle to the Mavs has he’s delivered in a variety of departments. Age, wear and tear will be something to monitor this coming season. Marion did miss 15 games last season, the most since 2007-08.
Gal Mekel – The Israeli guard is relatively an unknown to most spectators. Seeing him work leading up to the Las Vegas Summer League and during the actual games and practices, there’s something there with the guard. He is extremely gifted with the ball in his hands and can see the angles well when he’s operating off the pick-and-roll. To sum up his weakness in a way most will understand: he has Dominique Jones-like tendencies with his inability to shoot the ball from the perimeter. That is still a work in progress.
Dirk Nowitzki – I think he has been pretty much covered earlier this week.
Brandan Wright – Is Wright ready to emerge as the next hybrid big man to step up in the league or was he relatively overpaid for his skill set? He found himself at the back of the rotation at the expense of Troy Murphy early last season. Wright did finish the season strong, and he was an analytics hero of sorts for the Mavs. Despite that, he leaves more to be desired in the rebounding department.
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.