Mavs Getting Younger
- Updated: July 25, 2015
No matter how the rest of this offseason goes for Dallas, there is likely no way for them to be in a legitimate position to win the championship this upcoming season. This is a season of transition, but it doesn’t have to be a season of tanking. Tanking just wouldn’t make sense for Dallas because they likely wouldn’t even have their first round draft pick since it would belong to the Boston Celtics if it fell anywhere after pick seven thanks to the Rajon Rondo trade. The Mavs need to give this season their best shot while still trying to be a team geared toward the future.
Infusing young talent has always been something that the Mavericks organization has valued as much as Donald Trump values being politically correct. Since they’ve made the playoffs fourteen out of the fifteen seasons this century, including two trips to the NBA Finals and a championship in 2011, they’ve always been in “win-now” mode and haven’t made the patience for home-grown talent their priority. Things might finally be about to change.
If this offseason has been as telling as it appears, it looks as though the Mavericks are finally going to lean on some very young players to be a part of their rotation this year. That unfortunately might go hand-in-hand with their projected fringe playoff /late lottery team finish this year, but it’s a good thing for the future. That’s where this organization’s mind needs to be: the future.
Draft night brought this team Justin Anderson, the 6’6’’ wing from Virginia who was taken with the 21st overall pick. Anderson has the size, strength and athleticism that should immediately make him one of the best wing defenders the Mavs have had in recent memory. He won’t be asked much to create his own shot, but he showed glimpses of definitely being able to use his upper body strength to get to the rim in the Summer League. The main feature of his offensive game the Mavs will use will be his three-point shooting. He shot 38.5% from the three this summer and even showed some considerably long range on a few shots. Anderson will likely be the starter at shooting guard to start the season if Wesley Matthews is not fully recovered from his Achilles injury from March.
The forgotten piece from the Rondo trade is big man Dwight Powell. Other than the month of January, where he averaged a bit over 12 minutes a game for Dallas, he didn’t see much time on the floor. When he wasn’t on the Mavericks active roster, he absolutely thrived in the D-League. He averaged 26 points and 7 rebounds while shooting 39% from three-point range in 12 games for the Texas Legends last season. Powell enjoyed the Summer League perhaps more than Anderson. He was named to the All NBA Summer League Second Team while averaging a near double-double at 18 points and 9 rebounds per game. A second round pick out of Stanford in the 2014 draft, Powell is an athletic big man (6’10”) who seems to have the ability to not only shoot with range, but maybe create off the dribble if the right situation presents itself. The Mavs could use him as the stretch four that eluded them all of last season and so far this offseason. If Powell were able to become a valuable rotation player, or more, for the Mavericks, maybe the Rondo trade wasn’t a complete failure.
The Mavericks have also signed some young players who will likely be battling for the final roster spots during training camp. They signed wing John Jenkins, forward Jarrid Famous and big Maurice Ndour this week. Jenkins was a first round pick for the Hawks in 2012 but hasn’t had many playing opportunities in the two years following his solid rookie season. Famous is a player still looking to find his pro basketball footing after spending time in the D-League and overseas since his entry in the 2011 draft. Ndour had a very nice showing for the Knicks Summer League team. He seems the most likely to be on the team come the start of the regular season because of his three-year contract and the first year being fully guaranteed. Teams are less likely to waive a player with a fully guaranteed contract, although we did see the Mavs waive Bernard James and his guaranteed deal when they were more impressed by Charlie Villanueva’s strong preseason last year. All three signings are under the age of 27.
It has been an up and down offseason for Dallas, but their focus on adding young talent has been a positive. Perhaps they can develop these players into major contributors that they will have under contract for years to come; rather than signing a revolving door of veterans to one year deals each summer.
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