In basketball, you could argue that the point guard and center positions are the two most critical to a team. You could also argue that Eddie Curry's farts smell like raspberry donuts so does it even matter? (Curry is on the Spurs now, so that joke is double-funny for Mavericks fans.)
But you usually don't win in basketball unless you have competent point guard and center. Never was that fully displayed more than the 2011 finals, where Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler demolished the Heat's counter of Mario Chalmers, Mike Bibby and Eddie House's headband and Joel Anthony. The Heat have fudged it a bit by playing Bosh at center and using LeBron as their quasi-point guard, but the point still remains: you need to control the paint and have someone to calmly initiate the offense to win in this league.
Long story short, the Mavericks completely remolded their point guard and center positions. We've talked and previewed what the centers will bring but now the Mavs Moneyball previews set its sights on the new Mavericks starting point guard, Darren Collison.
Collison will be on his third team in his brief, four-year career when he suits up for the Mavericks. It's a strange road: he exploded in a short time as a rookie, filling in for Chris Paul and absolutely lighting the league up in New Orleans. Seen as an excess commodity, the Hornets flipped him to Indiana and he while he expectantly regressed from those ridiculous rookie numbers, he dipped so far as to being demoted in the playoffs as the back up point guard to George Hill.
The downfall was two-fold: Collison failed to grab the point guard job with consistent play and weak assist-to-turnover numbers while Indiana's system limited the creativity that allowed Collison to thrive while he was in New Orelans. Look at the numbers at MySynergySports.com -- Collison had great success in transition and isolation in New Orleans. When he was with the Pacers, those opportunities dried up and Collison's play suffered as he's never been the best pick and roll player.
Which is odd. Collison looks like a prototypical pick and roll dynamo -- he's quick, athletic and has a great jumper whether its from mid-range or behind the arc. Unfortunately, Collison hasn't done too much damage in the pick and roll, turning the ball over too much and posting low shooting percentages, even when he was white-hot in New Orleans.
How does that translate to this season and the Mavericks? Hopefully Collison figures that part of his game out -- it'll be imperative with a team that's bread and butter is getting teams mixed up by throwing different pick and rolls at them with Dirk Nowitzki. Rick Carlisle should be able to raise that part of his game and allow Collison to thrive in his two strengths, transition and isolation. Collison's speed will bring a new dimension to the Mavericks offense. He can be the one man fast-break and one-on-one perimeter shot-creator that we all dream of Rodrigue Beaubois to be.
Defensively, Collison is average to above-average. He can stay in front of quick point guards, but his small frame allows him to get bullied at times. Luckily, the Mavericks employ enough big guards and have Shawn Marion so that shouldn't be a problem. Collison will also allow the Mavericks to run a full-court press, which was an often underrated aspect of the Mavs championship defense. Dallas fans can breath a sigh of relief -- no longer will the Mavericks have to cross-match their guards as frequent as they did with Jason Kidd (think the Oklahoma City series in 2012). The Mavericks are the fastest at the point guard position since they had Devin Harris. That change of pace will be a sight for sore eyes.