MMB Player Power Rankings, v.3

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Here's the third edition of the Mavericks player power rankings. The Mavericks haven't been doing so hot, so this edition isn't going to feature a lot of puppies and sunshine.

Alan Smithee

Tim Cato

1. Dirk Nowitzki

1. Dirk Nowitzki

(editor's note: I meant to post this several days ago, before the Spurs game, and was too busy with work. Alan submitted his answers last week, so a couple of his answers might seem a little bit out of date. That's my bad.)

So here he is, finally making an appearance on the MMB player power rankings.

2. Shawn Marion

2. O.J. Mayo

I wasn't sure I was going to go with Marion first, but my reasoning is that he has by far the best all-around game going right now (yes, you read that right), which makes him the one guy that's dependable and involved every night. His offensive role drastically reduced at the very beginning of the season with Collison starting, Marion has been looked to more for scoring recently, and he's delivered much needed garbage points from 5-8 feet and in. What maybe has gone unnoticed is that Marion is also assisting at career-best rate, albeit at the cost of more turnovers. He's also still the club's leading rebounder, and let's not mince words: when Kaman is on the court, Marion is the only guy who seems to ever get an offensive rebound. It's hard not to at least admire his energy level, even on nights like Thursday against Miami when he misses several point blank layups.

It's been a rough few games for O.J. Mayo, who is really struggling to get good shots and having an even harder time knocking them down. It was a fun trip, running Mayo as the primary offensive option, but the plan had run its course. He exceeded expectations for long stretches at a time, but as the past few games have shown, he just can't keep up that production. The defensive focus on him night after night has slowly worn at him, and as of late, he's opting for a contested shot or ill advised drive rather than passing the ball and taking what the defense gives him. Dirk's return, hopefully, is just what he needs to alleviate some pressure and take the ball out of his hand some more. O.J. can be a playmaker at times, but he's just not consistent enough. Being able to dump in into Dirk and just letting him do his thing means less chances for O.J. to blunder through a pick and roll and commit a turnover. In more limited opportunities, though, he should be able to really solidify his role as Dirk's wingman.

3. O.J. Mayo

3. Shawn Marion

Of course, in terms of production Mayo's probably still #1, but he's had a few clunkers lately. Entering Friday, Mayo's last four games see him at 4-14 from three, though he's still at 50% for the season. It was nice to see the eight-assist game against Philly after committing 15 turnovers in two games previously. It seems that as Mayo goes, so goes Dallas lately. Without him making those jumpers, the team just seems to fall apart. Mayo has seen aggressive doubling, after his 40-point explosion against Houston, and has not responded well to it. Boston and Miami both managed to swallow him up, and those are the caliber of defenses Dallas will face if they are fortunate enough to make the playoffs. Speaking of defense...I don't think Mayo is very good at it. Dallas is defending much better with him off the floor, allowing nearing four points less per 100 possessions. He was embarrassed a few times by the admittedly great Dwyane Wade, including a fakeout on a baseline three that sent Mayo flying. O.J, that's a career 29% three point shooter. You let him take that shot.

Another season, another team that is skilled in either offense or defense, not both. Shawn Marion is arguably the lone exception, thanks to his defensive and rebounding prowess, and although he's has a few rough games scoring the ball of late, he's still as consistent as they come. As far as basketball IQ goes, Shawn knows exactly what to do and where to go on the basketball court. It's uncanny how often the ball caroms off the board right to him or how he's able to flash to the paint in the second his defender turns his back. There's a reason Marion is the only player besides Dirk to stick around from the championship winning rotation.

4. Brandan Wright

4. Chris Kaman

Boy, I didn't realize how bad it was until I had to think of who to rank third...this is really for lack of a better option. Wright has done some pretty nice things this year, though. I think the 16 foot jumpshot is officially a legitimate weapon for him (he's 6 for 8 on the season from there), and he's converting from 10 feet and in like never before. Really, the scoring is so nice, don't you just wish they could find a bigger role for him, somehow? Alas, Wright has not improved at all at the other end. In fact, he's regressed, rebounding at a career low rate and for all his energy still being a bit of a wet tissue on defense. He does fairly OK on the perimeter, where his agility and length make him useful, but the story is the same: he's so frail he just can't move anyone, and the BBIQ is more "acceptable" than "good".

He's not the rebounder he once was, nor is he the defender. He doesn't block too many shots, despite having a season where he denied 2.8 a game. He still has black hole tendencies on offense and really shouldn't commit as many turnovers he should. But by golly, here's the Mavericks 4th best player. Thankfully, he can still score efficiently, and gets a little credit for fighting through injuries this season. Obviously, Dirk and Kaman have a little of that German team chemistry, so I guess we'll see how that develops. I hardly think it's a guarantee that Kaman will remain the starter, though, especially the way Carlisle's been jerking around the rotation this year. Kaman has come off the bench in seven of his 26 games this year.

5. Chris Kaman

5. Brandan Wright

I thought coming into the season that Kaman would be most helpful on defense, and that hasn't happened at all. Honestly, as more time goes on he looks slower and less healthy. I guess that should have been expected for a guy who's seen his share of the injury list the last decade. Kaman is providing some much needed scoring punch, but what is his role when Dirk returns? I don't think it's a starter. Dallas won't need another jump shooter with Dirk back, and Kaman's rebounding (33rd among 51 centers in total rebound rate; 43rd in offensive rebound rate) and defense are not good enough. Kaman probably would be best deployed as the 2nd unit center, where he could abuse lesser backup bigs and just generally not be asked or relied upon to do as much. Who should be the starter? Well, how about...

No one will deny he has a major rebounding weakness, and it's glaring enough that it is going to really hurt his career if he can't improve even marginally. Below average post defense doesn't help his case, either. However, considering all the other bigs on the team have their own shortcomings, it's a bit crazy that Wright can't play consistently considering his offensive aptitude around the basket and weak side shot blocking on defense - two areas that the Mavericks are lacking in. His development of a mid-range jump shot? That's just icing on the "Free B-Wright" cake I just put in the oven.

6. Elton Brand

6. Vince Carter

...this guy? Yeah, not the greatest reveal. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, I guess. Brand has had a quietly solid month of December, with perhaps his two best games of the year, and averages of 8 points, 7 rebounds and a black and a half in 22 minutes, with 55% shooting. It doesn't always look pretty, but that's more like the guy we thought we were getting, right? Maybe Brand is a case study in whether first impressions can permanently affect your view of someone. Subjectively, though I think Brand has not looked as spry as I'd like, it does seem the midrange shooting might be starting to come around, and on paper the other numbers don't suggest he's completely fallen off a cliff(as more than a few people have stated). The glass half full outlook is that he continues to find his place in the offense and by the All Star Break he's close to 50% from the field and still averaging a double-double, two blocks and a steal per 36 minutes, like he is at the moment.

He has a superstar mentality that I really don't think can be separated from his overall game, so as a result, Carter isn't a very efficient player. It's hard, when you intermittently feel the urge to fire a contested jumper over two defenders and, unable to contain it, shoot said jumper. If you can look past the ugly hero-ball, there's a lot more than the guy brings. He's more efficient than his 41% field goal shooting might lead you to believe, though, because unlike most of the Maverick guards, he's not turnover-prone, around one a game. In fact, for his career he's averaging 2.1, an incredible number when you think about how much the ball was in his hands and how often he attacked the basket. I really feel like he's one of the biggest leaders on this team, and while he may have gave up Toronto years ago, it's not very often you see him give up a single play for the Mavericks these days.

7. Vince Carter

7. Elton Brand

Another in the entry of "quantity over quality", Carter has had his midseason regression a tad early this year, leaving us to wonder if he has even farther to fall. Few people benefit more from Dirk returning, I think, than Carter, who has been left out there with some pretty horrid offensive lineups, forcing him to try and do it all himself, with occasionally hideous results(though he is easily the most turnover-averse rotation player, and it's not close). I believe he has a role here in Dallas if he's asked to spot up primarily, and not create off the dribble very often. Plus, less work on offense keeps him fresher for the other things he can do, like rebounding and playing underrated defense.

My prediction is that Elton Brand will jump at least a couple slots up this list by the next ranking that comes out. He was showing some good production right before his injury, especially a jump shot that looked like it might just be coming around. His defense has been much stouter this year than people give him credit for, and he's one of the few Mavericks who will crash the glass. His TRB%, at 16.2%, is second best on the team...and that includes offensive rebounding, where he grabs a couple a game despite only playing 22 minutes.

8. Darren Collison

8. Bernard James

I know the knock on the guy is that he doesn't finish at the rim (and yeah, there have been some bad ones this week), but Collison is shooting over 60% there this year, which is, well, pretty damn good. It really seems like the big issue is how awful his in between game has been. He's been adequate with his long 2's, but between 4-15 feet he's usually shot in the 40's percentage wise, and is at 33% this season. The floaters, runners, push shot stuff that guys like Tony Parker and Chris Paul absolutely murder teams with? He's awful at them. He also is shooting dreadfully from three, which is a big disappointment. He has a high-effort, line-drive shot that clearly doesn't lend itself to soft bounces, and he's definitely reluctant to uncork it. I think Collison is a good player, but his best role is probably as a bench sparkplug. He's a scorer, not a distributor, and if he could just be paired with a big guard who could pass I think he'd be just fine. You know who he'd probably have been great with? Jason Kidd.

The only player better than Brand? Bernard James. In the few opportunities he's got to play, he's been a fantastic on the boards with a 17.8 total rebound percentage. How good is that? Well, Dwight Howard's this year is 18.1, Tyson Chandler's is 17.9, and Tim Duncan's is 19.2. He's also 10th in the league in block %, among qualifying players. Carlisle isn't completely insane - a lot of his success comes from picking the right time and place for Sarge to succeed. However, he's probably done enough to deserve some extra minutes here and there, just to see what he can do.

9. Bernard James

9. Darren Collison

Pretty big jump in power ranking for James, despite getting several DNP's the last two weeks. James was clearly the biggest bright spot for Dallas in the ugly loss to the Heat, and at some point you'd like to see James maybe get a shot at starting next to Dirk, to see if he's as good against first stringers as he's been against the garbage timers. James, listed at 6'10 240 but probably smaller than that, is the team's best rebounder and shot blocker. He doesn't have much competition in the former category. The offensive game is very limited, but I don't think I care at all at this point. I know I've said this before, but if you took Wright's offense with James' everything else, I think you'd have a superstar.

I think most of us would agree it has been a frustrating season this year. I think most of us would be wrong. Sure, Collison has had some rough patches, especially of late, but in all honesty, a lot of what we're seeing is just who he is. The early brilliance this year hyped up what people expected from him way too much, and once his play normalized back to what it should be, people started blaming him for poor play. In reality, Collison is a turnover-prone point guard who isn't good enough to at making shots to smooth it all over. His three pointer is a major weakness, but he's not really all that much better inside the line. I think Dirk will help him get to and finish at the rim better than before, but I wouldn't expect a total transformation out of him.

10. Jae Crowder

10. Dominique Jones

Jae has gone completely cold from the outside, but in a way I think this could be a good thing. I'm not sure a pure spot up role was ever going to be a perfect fit for him, and maybe now he starts attacking the basket and looking for his offense elsewhere. He has already shown a knack for making correct, quality passes, with one of the best assist/turnover ratios among rookies, but his game has been, I think, too perimeter oriented. He's capable of crashing the offensive glass(and generally rebounding better), physically bullying weaker small forwards inside, and generating more free throws and/or shots at the rim. Defensively, Carlisle has not been shy about putting him in tough matchups, and the results have been mixed, but this is an area I think even Crowder's detractors expect improvement. The steals are there, and over time I think he'll get anticipating for blocks, too.

Jones is a very, very good passer and a relentless attacker, which is the base package of a great point guard. It's really unfortunately, even sad, that he can't finish or shoot the ball to save his life. Usually you see the opposite...people who can score the ball in their sleep but simply aren't smart enough understand defenses and find out how to defeat them. Dojo is the opposite, and it's really quite impressive - he crafted a way to the NBA based almost solely on intelligence. With that said, scoring the ball is pretty damn important and Jones' inability is why he's ranked 10th. The problem at point guard is ever so obvious with the two players making up the rotation at 9 and 10.

11. Dominique Jones

11. Dahntay Jones

This kind of blows my mind: Dominique Jones is second, among all shooting guards, in assist rate. If you consider him a point guard, he'd still be 11th. As in only 10 point guards assist their teammates more often. As a rebounder, he's fifth among 2-guards, and would be fourth as a point guard. He's also top 10 in usage rate, which means he's generating lots of shots for himself as well as others, which is helped by his strong free throw rate. The fact that you can have all that positive data, and still have a player who might not really even be NBA caliber? It's astonishing. But that's how bad a shooter he is. Also worth noting is that Jones has flown under the radar as a pretty good defender, though I'd like to see more playtime before I call him legitimately good there. His size is obviously an asset, and though he can seem to coast a little and not exhibit an abundance of what we'll just call "hustle", the difference in the defense with him on the court compared to Dallas' other guards is fairly large. Maybe it's just further indictment of how bad the other guards have been on defense.

The defensive stopper has been pleasantly offensive playing the Threevenson role in the starting rotation. His corner three pointer is looking sharp, and he's proving that he has a little game going to the basket, too. It might take a few games before Dirk starts, but when he does, there's no choice but to move him back to the bench. Hopefully he can continue doing good things from that position as well.

12. Dahntay Jones

12. Jae Crowder

This is a low ranking for Dahntay but it comes with upside. He's here because he's shooting 36% from the field and an abysmal 17% from three. He also has the type of game that's pretty meatless without the made shots; he doesn't rebound, pass, or generate lots of blocks or steals. I do think the shooting numbers can and will improve, though, and he also does two other things I really, really like. He plays very tough man defense (sometimes a little too tough), and he can get to the free throw line. I think there is a talent to drawing fouls, beyond simply being fast or strong, and Dahntay is probably the best pure foul-drawer on the team, and not coincidentally he leads the team in field goal/free throw ratio.

He does the little things well, and the big things poorly. As a four year college player, it's no wonder he has a knack of when he needs to head fake and where he needs to go to grab a rebound. However, he's shown that he's not the shooter we hoped, and he's not even the shooter we expected. I certainly thought he could come in and make 32-33% of his long balls, but no, he's shooting a miserable 29% and struggling in other areas, too. I think he'll work his way to being a good player, but he really doesn't deserve rotation minutes and I wouldn't be surprised to see Chris Douglas-Roberts cut into them if not completely eliminate his playing time in the near future.

13. Roddy Beaubois

13. Rodrigue Beaubois

Seeing him on the court just makes me sad. Does he even want to play basketball anymore? I watch him and really wonder. Maybe he'll have a good game and snap me back into "dream on" mode, but right now he looks completely ineffective. Not in the sense that he's making bad mistakes, but in the sense that it doesn't look like he's really trying. This is a fate worse than injury.

Every time he steps on the court, I get a little excited. And then I remember that this isn't 2010. It makes me sad that he didn't work out, and I hope that he figures it out and makes it back into the league, kinda like former Mavericks prospect Gerald Green.

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