Let me set the stage here. Your Dallas Mavericks had the best offense in the league after the All-Star break last season. With a lneup that had Samuel Dalembert playing meaningful minutes as a center. Shawn Marion is a good player, but doesn't bring much in the offensive end of the court in terms of individual talent or off-the-dribble threat. So these two aren't really the type of players you're missing in terms of scoring power.
Now, Vince was, is, and always will be pure excitement and electicity packed in one hell of a player, and Jose Calderon's eternally fantastic beard is a thing I think about every night as I go to bed. And Raymon Felton will never ever be able to replace that beard with his gigantic, goddamn enormous ass.
But what the Mavericks have now is a truly great starting line-up. Devin Harris should get the majority of minutes at the 1 (more on this later), while Monta Ellis (who is turning 29, by the way. 29. AGE. MATURITY. POISE.) is still a freakishly quick speed demon at the 2, ready to exploit every single mismatch he can find for himself. Also, the Dirk-Monta pick&roll/pop is still a thing that's straight up good for 25+ points, night in, night out.
The Mavs also signed this Chandler Parsons dude, I don't know if you're aware of this fact, but they indeed did. The internet has proof of this, I'm sure. Also, you know what this means for the Mavericks, and most importantly, Rick Carlisle?
OPTIONS! POSSIBILITIES! EXCITEMENT!
The addition of Parsons gives the Mavs an insane amount of additional things they can run on offense, the skillset on that guy is pretty much made for this Mavs team and for Rick Carlisle. He can shoot, can create stuff off the dribble, has length, height and decent size. He sees the floor well and is an above-average passing wing.
There's a link at the end to a great video. I'll explain then how simply awesome the addition of Parsons is. Just by looking at that one play.
They somehow have that tall German still, after all these years, and he's still, you know, kinda devastatingly great at basketball. Nowitzki is shooting as well as he's ever been shooting, and now the pieces around him support him in ways they haven't done after that championship run. There's so much cool stuff to be done with this lineup when Nowitzki's on the floor that it really is unfair.
As big of an upgrade as Parsons is, none will make a bigger impact straight from the opening night tip-off than Tyson Chandler. The improvement when comparing him to Dalembert just makes last season seem like a miracle. That team took the San Antonio Spurs to Game 7. Seven games? Unreal.
Chandler might be past his absolute prime, but the things he used to be good at, he's still good at. He can finish above the rim as the roll guy, and finds the open spots on the floor when his man helps on a drive. Basically, he's a bigger, much better, more consistent version of Dalembert. It's all good y'all.
This is where things get a little bit more complicated, as you can imagine. The bench, in theory, could include three point guards in Jameer Nelson (10 assists against the Pacers), Gal Mekel (knows the team and Carlisle, 5 assists against the Pacers) and Raymond Felton (a known fat man).
I'm not going to point out that Felton is a possible liability on D and fat, but he is. There's no way around it, like there is no way around Felton. Because he is fat. That was the joke there.
On offense, though, he can take advantage of smaller guards and is a realiable ball handler. You can't go under pick&rolls against him too much, because he has a tendency to knock down shots off the dribble. He can't really finish at the rim, but is capable of feeding the roll guy and finding the open corners, especially on the weak side.
Mekel has no left hand, but is a great passer nonetheless and distributes the ball well in any situation. In the end though, with no real scoring threat, he's fighting for the 3rd point guard spot with Felton.
The obvious guy to share minutes with Harris, though, is Nelson. An experienced guard with an all-round skillset for a point guard, the man just feels like the perfect fit for Carlisle, and for line-ups where he's playing either the 1 with Ellis or someone else as the 2, or the 2-guard with Harris or Felton/Mekel playing as the point guard.
Nelson should be a fun fit with this team. He could even replace Harris as the starting point guard in some games, or take the starting job for good if he heats up early in the season.
Harris and Nelson are also pretty much interchangeable within a line-up as they're both capable of playing either guard role. Don't be shocked to see Nelson-Harris backcourt in games where Ellis is having an off-night or gets in to foul trouble.
The bench doesn't really have any other strong candidates for a true, pure 2-guard other than Ricky Ledo. The on/off scorer can get a shot off against pretty much anybody, but the efficiency rarely goes hand-in-hand with the volume. There's still some upside to his game, and I'd think Carlisle tries to insert him in line-ups with scoring threat and guys that can get to the lane. As a spot-up shooter, Ledo could be a lethal weapon during his on-nights. Just don't let him go 1-on-1 on perimeter isolations. Please don't. Simply go and take the ball from him when he's got that look in his eyes.
The forward spots are a bit trickier. First, let's list all the guys that are fighting for spots.
First off, Aminu is playing meaningful minutes with this team. That's a fact. He rebounds like he's on meth, runs the floor well and can defend most 2s, most 4s, and every 3 you throw at him. He can do absolutely nothing with a basketball that doesn't include dunking, but those kind of minor details shouldn't really bother you. The dude's name is freaking Al-Farouq Aminu. FAROUUUUUUUUQ.
Secondly, Eric Griffin should make this team. After Ellis, there's no other player in that roster that's as entertaining as Griffin can be. If he improves (or shows signs that the improvement could happen) that jumper to be at least 35-38% from three (on catch&shoot spot-ups), he probably makes the team. Freakishly athletic, and just a fun, fun player to watch.
Crowder is a lock, pretty much. Jefferson probably shouldn't, but you never know. Mike James played briefly with this team, so, you know. Whatever. Get him to the same doctor that gave Jermaine O'Neal bionic limbs, and we can talk about this.
For a guy that liked Brian Cardinal the same way you'd like any cool uncle, I'm all for watching Charlie Villanueva play basketball for 82 games a season. Yes sir. They're actually not that similiar players to begin with, but I just wanted to point out that I liked Cardinal. Because that's just the type of thing you gotta get out of your system from time to time.
Villanueva brings a jump-shooting threat, and a poor man's Dirk-ish pick&pop threat. There are also games where you will lose your shit with this man, but I mean, he's still Charlie Villa-goddamn-Nueva. You'll live with those games. He needs to make the team.
And if there's ever a situation where you need to make a decision on wether or not you want Ivan Johnson on your team or someone else, you want Ivan Johnson. He's a verified badass who competes as hard as anyone out there, and he's trying to add a 3-point shot to his game. If, and that's a big "if" as of now, he succeeds with that, I'm all for him getting a significant role on the team.
Then there's Brandan Wright who's the second 5 behind Chandler. He brings a softer touch around the rim, but other than that, he's a discound Tyson Chandler who jumps higher.
Brendan James is the official "don't even care if he makes the team" -guy. Just don't care. I guess he's a cool dude and all, but I honestly can't make myself to be emotionally invested in his eventual basketball faith. Greg Smith isn't far behind.
And who the literal fuck is Doron Lamb? Should I be interested? Hope not.
There's a shitload of cool stuff ahead. The possibilities and options Carlisle has to work with are only limited by a lack of a true post-up threat. Dirk is one, kind of, but there's not much else. Then again, the roster really didn't have one last season, and that didn't go that bad when you look back.
Then, to that one play. The "Speed Pick&Roll", which is a frustratingly simple yet effective little trick play that Carlisle has imported into his playbook once Ellis was signed. Just watch.
Now, on most of those line-ups, replace Marion with Parsons and Dalembert/Wright/whoever with Chandler. I'm not saying you can't defend that, but it's getting more and more difficult. Especially if you make that first pick&roll a Nelson/Dirk -cooperation, that becomes a major threat itself. And with Parsons on the floor, you can't leave him open to help. Because threes. They will be raining on you.
There's just so many cool variations and plays you can do with this roster that it's insane. And the way Carlisle likes to run these things, you know you're not going to be disappointed.
The season will no doubt be great, but there is a sad, sad story to be found underneath all this.
It would seem as if one of the greatest players I've ever seen play, will not make the team. It is a sad day for basketball, and everyone in love with the great game.
Yuki Togashi. I will never forget this. Let your reckless-looking 3-pointers live on, and your floaters be as soft as they've always been.