Photo by AP.
Vegas Summer League is fast approaching, and with the draft in the rear-view mirror, the roster is starting to take shape. Here’s a preliminary depth chart of all of the prospects confirmed for the team (in bold) and those invited to tryout for a spot in the Mavs’ mini-camp.
PG – Rodrigue Beaubois (Maverick U), Jeremy Lin (Harvard), Jermaine Beal (Vanderbilt)
SG – Dominique Jones (South Florida; drafted by the Mavs in 2010), Shan Foster (Vanderbilt; drafted by the Mavs in 2008), Kelvin Lewis (Houston), Jamel White (Texas Wesleyan), Andre Emmett (Texas Tech; drafted by the Sonics in 2004), Tony Crocker (Oklahoma), Dwight Lewis (USC)
SF – Larry Owens (Oral Roberts/Tulsa 66ers), Derrick Byars (Drafted by the Blazers in 2007), Eric Tramiel (North Texas), Roderick Flemings (Hawaii)
PF – Mouhammad Faye (SMU), Zivonko Buljan (TCU)
C – Omar Samhan (St. Mary’s), Moussa Seck (Senegal)
Hat-tip to Jeff Caplan and Scott Schroeder. You can view the Mavs’ Summer League schedule here.
You may notice that the Mavs’ two second round picks from last year, Nick Calathes and Ahmad Nivins, are both oddly absent. Calathes is prevented from playing in Summer League due to his deal with Panathinaikos Athens. Nivins would theoretically be cleared, but was sidelined with a knee injury while playing for Manresa last December. Mark Cuban confirmed via email that Ahmad is still rehabbing.
The roster could still change a bit between now and the end of mini-camp, particularly if any of the more skilled invitees decide to play for the Mavs. Most of the top undrafted players are already accounted for, but there are still plenty of prospects out there. Brian Zoubek (Duke), Mac Koshwal (DePaul), Devan Downey (South Carolina), Justin Mason (Texas), Courtney Fortson (Arkansas), Marquis Gilstrap (Iowa State), Tyler Smith (Tennessee), and Tommy Mason-Griffin (Oklahoma) all worked out for the Mavs and are unattached for Vegas, making them the more likely possibilities of the bunch.
Even if there aren’t any notable additions between now and the start of Summer League, there are plenty of interesting players in this bunch. Beaubois you already know, and it’ll be nice to get another look at him running the point full-time. Dominique Jones will make his Maverick debut, and I have a feeling a lot of people will be pleasantly surprised. Larry Owens is an interesting wing prospect coming to the Mavs by way of the D-League, and he’s capable of providing some scoring (including three-point shooting) and rebounding at SF. Omar Samhan and the 7’4” Moussa Seck provide two very different looks at center, but both will command your viewing attention when on the floor.
It’s still doubtful the Summer League team will produce any unknown talent worthy of making the Mavs’ roster this season, but there could be some training camp prospects in the bunch. Not to mention candidates for the Texas Legends. It’s not quite Maverick basketball, but this is going to be fun, folks.
- First, a brief explanation is in order. I’ve been under the weather with what I thought was a little flu bug for the last few days. Turns out it’s more the real deal than a little bug, and just to make things interesting, my immune system decided to stick me with mono as well. So the last three days have been a cycle of listless, semi-conscious floating, and heavily-medicated slumber. I’m looking to kick things up a notch moving forward and hopefully not die. Thanks for your patience.
- Marc Spears touches on all of the current Mavs-centric storylines (Dirk’s injury, veteran leadership, team depth), as well as a few that loom in the near future (Dirk’s status as a potential free agent, Chris Bosh as a possible free agent target). There are some terrific quotes from just about every Maverick party, so be sure to check it out.
- A bummer courtesy of Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski: “Dallas 2nd round pick, 6-9 Ahmad Nivins of St. Joe’s, tore ACL in knee for Manresa of Spanish ACB on Saturday and will miss rest of season…Nivins played for Mavs in Vegas in July and signed in Spain with Dallas blessing. Had played well in elite Euro league. Surgery this week.” Nivins is averaging 7.8 points (60.4% FG) and 4.2 rebounds per game for Suzuki Manresa this season.
- No infection for Dirk’s elbow. Party time.
- Marc Stein likes the idea of resting Dirk for one more game, regardless of whether or not Nowitzki thinks he’s ready to go: “It’ll allow Nowitzki to have a full week off before making his comeback in Saturday’s matinee against Memphis on the day after Christmas. He’ll hate sitting out that long, but it’s probably the best thing for an elbow that is still way too sore to allow him to shoot the ball properly or absorb any sort of significant contact….It’ll give Josh Howard, Drew Gooden and Sunday hero Tim Thomas one more game to inherit all of Dirk’s shots and touches and build on what they did to the Cavs. Thomas got most of the attention with 22 points and seven boards starting in Nowitzki’s place, but Gooden’s 10-point first half and 12 points, eight boards and two blocks overall will be recorded as his first double-figure scoring game all month after five double-doubles in November.”
- How to make a Dallas Mavericks steak.
- Rick Carlisle on Tim Thomas’ willingness to change his role to fit team needs (via Eddie Sefko): “I talked to him before the Miami game that Josh [Howard] being back was going to affect everybody’s minutes…It may be erratic when he plays. But he just said, ‘Hey, I appreciate you talking to me about it and I’ll be ready.’ “
- A little Lord of the Rings, a little Mavs-Blazers…hey, why not?
Phoenix Suns 95, Dallas Mavericks 90
Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images.
While wins in Vegas Summer League are the NBA equivalent of funny money, the minutes played are not without consequence.
For one, this is real, NBA basketball. It’s not played in big arenas or with the brightest stars, but these are representatives of real NBA teams playing other potential competitors with the NBA logo on their unis. It’s damn sloppy and a huge step down talent-wise from what we see in the NBA, but it’s not a bad meet-and-greet for players and the fans. It lets us get a decent first look at the Mavs’ draftees, and proves that Nathan Jawai(bberwocky) is, in fact, a real person.
But basketball wouldn’t be basketball without the harsh reality of injuries. Rodrigue Beaubois was treated first-hand to that experience last night, as he suffered a left knee contusion in the waning moments of the game. It’s apparently nothing serious, and Beaubois isn’t expected to miss any Summer League time. Whew.
But even when Beaubois’ wasn’t making headlines (well, let’s be honest: footnotes) with his injury, he was catching plenty of eyes. So far we’ve seen three very different games from Roddy. Game one was an adventure, to put it kindly; Beaubois clearly needed time to feel his way into NBA basketball. Game two was a demonstration, a Beaubois-led clinic exploring what he could develop into as a point guard. Game three was an organic, yet controlled attempt by Rodrigue to show his skills as a point guard. Three very different looks, two of which are very promising. Strong play in Summer League is hardly indicative of future success, but Beaubois has the look of a stud. He knows his way around a basketball court, and even it takes him a few years to fully grasp everything going on around him, his instincts and natural talents are pretty swell.
Rick Carlisle came on the broadcast for awhile to talk about a variety of the topics, Ahmad Nivins among them. Rick gave the usual “WE COULDN’T BELIEVE HOW FAR HE FELL, I MEAN, HE WAS OUR GUY ALL ALONG!” speech, which I’d usually dismiss as lip service. But after watching more of Nivins in real game action, I would be incredibly disappointed if he wasn’t on the Mavs’ opening day roster. There are clearly some holes in his game, but I’m still waiting for the reason this guy was a second round pick. Nivins is fundamentally sound, he has some range, and he’s a solid defender (at this level, anyway). While it’s difficult to say just how well he’d perform against the big boys, he could really help provide some depth at the 4.
Nathan Jawai had some serious troubles. Even when executing the most basic of post moves, Jawai seemed to be in slow motion and often came up short. Having Robin Lopez on you doesn’t help, but from his single performance in a Maverick uniform, I see no reason for optimism. One point (0-5 FG), five rebounds, six fouls, and still one sweet nickname for the Jawaibberwocky. Give me Ryan Hollins, or give me death!
Shan Foster’s shooting finally came around, but even in his most impressive effort yet, he was decidedly mortal. The Mavs will be waiting a long time if they expect Foster to develop into a useful player; For now, he clearly needs the ball in his hands to be effective at all, and even in that capacity he’s no particularly good at anything aside from shooting. Consider Foster’s stroke isn’t pure enough to be counted on night-in and night-out, that doesn’t bode well for his NBA prospects.
The other notable names remain the same, but no one has stood out in a way that would command your attention. It’s become abundantly clear to me that Luke Jackson’s only role in the NBA would be as a spot-up shooter, but his defense would likely limit his effectiveness. Mickael Gelabale works really hard on the basketball court, but probably shouldn’t be anything more than a third-string wing player. Aaron Miles had his best game of the SL, and yet I still can’t convince myself that he’s an NBA player. Instinctively, my eyes turn to Beaubois and Nivins on the court, and there’s a reason for that. Not only are they the Mavs’ draft picks this season and hope for the future, but they remain the only players on the Mavs’ summer league roster capable of holding your attention.
- Kevin Arnovitz dotes a bit on Ahmad Nivins: “Ahmad Nivins looks like a pro player – long, muscular, athletic, and coordinated. The but that usually follows this profile is … lacks fundamentals, or doesn’t have a post game. With Nivins, though, that doesn’t appear to be the case. He displays good footwork, moves around the floor with purpose, and is a beast on the boards. When you ask folks here why he dropped to No. 56 in the draft, you get a lot of shrugs, followed by a soft endorsement of his skills. He’s had a nice week thus far — 14 points and 6 rebounds per game on 51.6 percent shooting from the field. The only apparent drawback is that he looks waaaay too wound up on the court, and that intensity occasionally works against him.”
- Kurt Helin of Forum Blue and Gold has some high praise for the other star of the Mavs’ summer league team: “For those of you who were high on Rodrigue Beaubois — You were right. Much better in person than expected. Absolutely lighting quick off the dribble, can shoot the three, and most impressively made really smart decisions. Not just me saying that, I was standing next to a front office guy (not Lakers) who was saying ‘We didn’t know he could shoot like that.’”
- Brandon Bass in his new threads.
- What did Otis Smith have to say about matching Gortat’s offer sheet?
- And while we’re on a Magic-centric roll here: If you’re at all interested in following Brandon Bass in the future, I’d recommend starting here.
- Yes, I do realize that Lamar Odom is still on the market, and that Mark Cuban threw Odom’s name out there in an interview with NBA TV. He’s an incredible talent and a personal favorite of mine, but adding Odom would give the Mavs a whole lot of…something. I’m not sure that something could ever be combined in an optimal way without some accompanying roster moves. The available free agents and other trade candidates lack Odom’s intrigue and versatility, but I’d have serious concerns as to where the Mavs intend to find minutes for all of their forwards. That said, Odom is a good enough player that if available for a reasonable price, you pull the trigger and worry about everything else later.
- John Hollinger (Insider) reflects on The Gortat Incident: “When Dallas presented the offer sheet, Smith said he wanted all seven days to make up his mind and would have taken eight if he could have. But don’t believe him. He knew exactly what he was going to do all along. Every good team does — in preparation for free agency, it runs through all the scenarios of what another team might offer its players, and if so whether it would match. The Magic almost certainly knew on July 1 whether they were matching this deal; they just didn’t let everyone else in on the secret until today…it was a brilliant stroke, because it allowed them to get a second player at a discount price…By making Dallas believe that they wouldn’t match the offer for Gortat, they were able to throw the Mavs off the scent of Bass. At the time, the Mavs were thinking letting Bass go to the Magic would eliminate any chance of losing Gortat…Psych! This is Lucy pulling the football out from Charlie Brown, folks. Orlando created the impression that it was going to let Gortat leave, the Mavs fell for it hook, line and sinker, and as a result the Magic got to sign the player they coveted at power forward (Bass), in addition to keeping Gortat like they always knew they would…And in case you get any sneaky ideas, remember that Gortat can’t be traded until Dec. 15, can’t be traded without his consent for a full year, and can’t be traded to Dallas at all until next summer. So don’t think the Magic are holding Gortat for ransom — the rules on offer sheets are set up to avert those kinds of shenanigans. This is strictly a buy-and-hold maneuver…Meanwhile, the Mavs are left high and dry by today’s news. They had planned for Gortat to start at center and let Bass, last season’s primary frontcourt backup, leave because of it. Now Dallas has to scrounge through the free-agent leftovers because the Mavs basically lost two weeks waiting for the Magic to stick it to them. Wherever the Mavs go from here, they don’t look nearly as strong on paper as they would have if they had wrested Gortat from Orlando … especially since the Magic bluffed them out of Bass along the way. All that happy news I wrote last week about them rivaling San Antonio for second-best in the West is dripping in cold water right now; they still need frontcourt help and that’s the hardest help to find.”
- Hollinger makes some salient points, including one that brought me to a particular conclusion: This wasn’t a last-minute back stab by the Magic, and history won’t remember it that way. If Orlando is hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy next summer, the commentary will insist that Otis Smith pulled a fast one on good ol’ Donnie Nelson. And he did. As much as we’d like to cry shenanigans or claim underhandedness (myself included), there was no foul play here. There was certainly some behavior to be frowned upon, but Smith found a way to have his cake, eat it took, and then move on to the Mavs’ piece. That’s not the kind of thing that causes a shift in karma, but it certainly is the kind of thing that hangs over the heads of the entire Mavericks’ fan base.
Houston Rockets 98, Dallas Mavericks 95
Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images.
I wasn’t able to watch last night’s summer league game due to a little basketball tournament of my own, so of course Rodrigue Beaubois turned in an absolutely magnificent performance when my back was turned. Roddy followed up his disappointing debut with a lights-out showing in game 2, registering a stat-line almost too monstrous to believe:
7-12 3FG (This cat’s got some serious NBA range)
Only 2 turnovers
This face? Right here? My Over-the-Moon Face. I’m absolutely thrilled that Beaubois was apparently able to be a more effective and efficient point guard, even if his trouble with fouling continued (9 fouls). That will work itself out as he continues to get a feel for the NBA game. Roddy is so young and so inexperienced in NBA-style basketball that it doesn’t really matter how many fouls he gets right now. What matters is that he displays the attributes to be a hellish point guard defender. He showed some of that in game one, but of course I can’t speak to what I didn’t see in game two. Among his praise of Rodrigue’s game, Rick Carlisle did note that Beaubois’ defense is far from a finished product (via Arnovitz at TrueHoop):
“He brings us a different dimension. We don’t have this kind of angular speed, or supreme-type athlete at the point guard position right now. So he gives us a different look.” Carlisle was cautious in his praise. It’s only Beaubois’ second NBA game, and he still has to learn how to play an NBA brand of defense. “When you come from a mid-league in Europe to the NBA, you have to ratchet up your level of awareness.”
David Thorpe chimed in today, on Twitter:
Beaubois has been the best pure pg I’ve seen this summer. Until George Hill. Westbrook is the most explosive game changer.
Pretty good company for the youngest Mav.
Beaubois wasn’t alone, as Ahmad Nivins continued his strong play with a near-double double (11 points, 8 rebounds). I can’t decide how I feel about Luke Jackson’s box score, considering he scored 16 points on 11 shots, but only made 3 field goals. Going perfect from the line is impressive and getting there for 8 attempts even moreso, but shooting such a low percentage from the field is never a good thing.
Not much to note otherwise from the Mavs’ perspective. From my understanding, the Mavs are still reluctant to leave Beaubois on the floor as a solo ball-handler, often playing Rodrigue and Aaron Miles together on the floor. I’ve made my position on Miles pretty clear, and again Baylor’s Curtis Jerrells superficially seems a superior candidate. It’s hard to make any kind of real judgment off of box scores alone, but if you go strictly by the numbers, Jerrells had a superior game in more limited playing time. There are a number of reasons why that could be true, but I’d love to see Jerrells get more of a run as a back-up point with the summer league team, rather than random rotation filler.
Milwaukee Bucks 65, Dallas Mavericks 59
Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images.
The JV Mavs’ summer league debut was about as rocky as it gets. It was beyond painful to watch, and that’s coming from someone who was intrigued to see what players from both teams had to offer. I still managed to choke down turnover after turnover after turnover (the Mavs alone had 25), and saved all of you the displeasure of watching some of the worst basketball I’ve ever laid eyes on. These summer league rosters are assembled primarily from rookies, recent draftees, and D-League talent. The teams only have a handful of practices before they play under Vegas lights, and last night they certainly played like it.
I’ve got nothing against summer league, in theory or in practice. Most of the time, I enjoy the bright spots of the game in spite of some generally poor play. But last night’s game was so uncoordinated and sloppy on both sides, that it was borderline unbearable. Luckily for us (or rather, me and the other schmucks the NBA suckered into paying for the online feeds), the games usually turn out markedly better by the end. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.
As for Game 1, there was one bright, shining star for the Mavs, made even more brighty and shiningier by the dullness that surrounded him: Ahmad Nivins. I was personally anticipating the match-up between first round picks Rodrigue Beaubois and Brandon Jennings, but for the most part both point guards weren’t ready to run even a summer league offense. Nivins, on the other hand, showed plenty on both ends of the floor. On offense, Nivins was an active offensive rebounder and a sound finisher. He showed range out to the college three-point line, but wasn’t too in love with his jumper. But the superlatives don’t end there, as Nivins matched up mostly against Milwaukee’s first round pick in last year’s draft, Joe Alexander. Joe ended up 4-18 on the night with 2 turnovers, which is mostly a testament to Nivins’ defense. This is quite literally the first time I’ve ever seen Ahmad play, but if he keeps up this kind of production and activity, it will be awfully tough for the Mavs to deny him a roster spot.
Rodrigue Beaubois, flagged as the point guard of the future and the guy to watch on the summer league team, needs playing time. And he needs it badly. You could see exactly what piqued the interest of Donnie Nelson and Rick Carlisle when Beaubois demonstrated his quickness in the lane and his skill as a drive-and-kick point guard, but Roddy still has a long way to go before he can play within himself. He didn’t demonstrate a knowledge of when to push the ball or when to pull back out, his passing on the perimeter was a bit lazy, and he was caught with a careless dribble on a few occasions. Make no mistake: Roddy Beaubois is a talented point guard, but he’s still very, very raw. He may be ready for spot minutes on the pro level, but surely nothing more. Mavs fans will have to be content with flashes of Tony Parker and Rajon Rondo for now, two players that Beaubois clearly channels during his brighter moments.
Brandon Jennings seemed to suffer from similar problems, though I wouldn’t give all the credit to Beaubois’ defense. Rodrigue did an admirable job, to be sure, but also seemed very foul-prone in his first NBA contest. Jennings also didn’t help his cause by settling for outside jumpers, which have been described as one of the weaker points of his game. But Roddy (still not crazy about that nickname) clearly has the defensive ability to stay with the league’s quicker point guards…even if, for the moment, it translates to a bit of foul trouble.
Baylor product Curtis Jerrells could barely get off the bench, largely because the Mavs seemed more interested in Aaron Miles. Personally, I don’t understand the fascination; Miles is a perfect example of why slow and steady doesn’t always win the race, and why “manage the game” point guards often find their way out of the league sooner rather than later. Miles actually managed to one-up Beaubois with 8 fouls and 7 turnovers (compared to Beaubois’ 6 TOs). I know it’s the first game, but with Miles I couldn’t even find reason for optimism. Here’s to hoping that I’m proven wrong.
Shan Foster did not play well. For a shooter, he sure does have problems shooting. Several open looks for Shan that he just couldn’t convert. I don’t think Foster was really ready to make the jump to the Mavs’ roster anyway, but his first game back from Europe in a Mavs’ uniform was definitely a disappointment (1-7 FG or 2 points, though he did notch 4 rebounds and 2 assists).
Mickael Gelabale: you’ve got my attention. No star power to speak of, but Gelabale is a comfortable, athletic, role player type who could fit in comfortably as a wing defender.
Nick Calathes was nowhere to be found.
Luke Jackson was a highly-rated prospect coming out of college, and still has the potential to be a niche player in the big leagues. He’s clearly working on becoming a bit more of a play-making forward in the Luke Walton mold. He had some success on that front, but could really benefit from learning to play within himself a bit more on offense. The summer league team isn’t riddled with players who can create shots, so maybe Luke feels he needs to fill that role. Who knows. But he had a high turnover game for guy who would be a minimal usage player on the next level. Prove to the team that you can handle the ball a little, dish the rock, and hit the spot-up three. That’s what’s going to earn you a roster spot with the Mavs, not forcing the issue. Jackson also attempted a dunk in traffic, which drew maniacal laughter from one audience member. E for effort?
Don’t look at me. That was Trey’s recommendation for a nickname for our own Ahmad Nivins. Trey’s nickname list is both exhaustive and awesome…look no further than Rodrigue “Crayfish” Beaubois. Don’t ask questions, just nod your head and chuckle.
Beaubois is bringing the foreign intrigue as a prospect that has largely gone unknown and unseen. But Nivins, a domestic product from St. Jo’s, is perhaps just as mysterious. St. Jo’s didn’t exactly carry a high profile during Nivins’ time as the man, putting Ahmad far from the spotlight in the fairly weak Atlantic 10 Conference. You wouldn’t expect St. Jo’s to crack the national rotation unless something truly special was going on (like say, Jameer Nelson and Delonte West tearing it up), and Nivins’ time as a collegiate athlete definitely fell short of that mark. Ahmad Nivins is not “something special,” and there’s a distinct possibility that he could be out of the NBA faster than you can say Pavel Podkolzin. But there’s also the possibility that Nivins could be a nice rotation big off the bench, which is a fine role to fill for a late second rounder.
If you look at Nivins’ numbers in college, there are certainly some bright spots. He showed consistent improvement during most of his time in college, though his junior season was somewhat of an step backwards. As Nivins’ minutes climbed, so did his level of efficiency, which is an encouraging sign. One number, in particular, that caught my eye was Nivins’ usage rate. He used 22.9% of his team’s possessions, a high mark for a big man. For reference, that percentage tops Jonny Flynn, thought of as a ball-dominating guard. It puts Nivins in the same ballpark with Blake Griffin and Sam Young, among others.
Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily a good thing. For one, Nivins will not be a high usage player on the next level. He’ll need to transition into being a spot rotation guy who operates without the ball in his hands. That’s quite a departure from being the 23rd leading scorer in the nation. Nivins is used to operating against not just college opponents, but relatively weak ones. He’s faced nothing that could truly prepare him for the strength and burl he’ll encounter in the pros, but there’s still reason for optimism. Looking over Nivins’ breakdown, his rebounding numbers are more than a strength. They’re practically a calling card. He’s not an off-the-charts boarder like Paul Millsap was in college, but Nivins has the resume to be a solid NBA rebounder.
When factoring in how Nivins’ statistical production could potentially transfer to the next level, his high usage rate nukes most of the relevant stats. His points will obviously drop dramatically, as will his assists, his shot attempts, his free throw attempts, and his turnovers. But one are which should remain relatively untarnished by lower usage is rebounding. Regardless of whether or not Ahmad has the ball in his hands during the offensive sets, his numbers do indicate that he could very well be a solid rebounder in the pros. Nivins’ high true shooting percentage (68%, good for 6th in the NCAA) and effective field goal percentage (61%) are also promising signs.
I’m not even sure if Nivins’ will make the cut for this year’s roster, but I could definitely see him filling a James Singleton-esque role in the future. He’s got decent size for an NBA power forward, and could be a nice minimum-commitment, low-risk find in the late second round.
Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images.
Glad to see Beaubois rockin’ the French flag ‘links for the second day straight. Tremendous. Plus, it’s his first day in the league and he’s already a pro at the confident smirk.
Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images.