The Ones Who Got Away: the NBA’s Best Former Mavs

Harry How

As fans, we all have one or two favorite players who unfortunately moved on from the Mavs. Various trade deadline rumors got me thinking about ex-Mavs, and a few hours of Googling later, I have compiled what I am calling the All-Former-Mavs Team. The All-FM Team is made up of the best current players who were at one point attached to the Mavericks. No offense to all-time greats like Nash and Kidd or talented former Mavs who are either out of the league (Delonte West) or just barely contributing (Antawn Jamison), but for my purposes the player must be a serious part of an NBA team’s current rotation. Thinking that a nine-man rotation is probably sufficient, I put together five starters and four rotation players.

Without further ado, the All-Former-Mavs Team:

Starting Point Guard: Nick Calathes

This first entry is maybe the most controversial. Without any great options, I found myself choosing between Nick Calathes, who technically never played a minute for the Mavs, and Darren Collison, who I like to pretend didn’t. Some might argue Calathes was never actually a Mav, but I’m going pick him anyway. After all, Calathes has never been benched in favor of the ageless Mike James. He has averaged close to fourteen points, five assists, and four rebounds a game so far in February, while starting in place of the injured Mike Conley. Not much of a track record, but I’m banking on potential here.

Just for the record, Devin Harris would’ve been a shoe-in for this position if not for his return to Big D this season. However, Dirk + Devin fun times are far more important than my silly fan post.

Also considered: Darren Collison, Steve Nash’s grey beard

Starting Shooting Guard: Gerald Green

Who else forgot that Gerald Green played for the Mavs? Wikipedia assures me that Green was in fact on the Mavs’ roster in the 08-09 season. Since I don’t watch many teams other than the Mavs, I had no idea that Green had suddenly become a pretty solid NBA player. He contributes almost fifteen point and three rebounds a game this year for the surprisingly improved Suns. In addition to scoring a career high thirty-six points this week, Green was recently seen Blake Griffin-ing all over Kenneth Faried.

Also considered: O.J. Mayo, Cap Space

Starting Small Forward: Corey Brewer

I almost put Brewer on the bench, with O.J. Mayo as the starting SG and swingman Green in this spot. However, Brewer was a member of the title team (admittedly a non-contributing one), and O.J. Mayo is O.J. Mayo. Brewer has started all season for a talented but underperforming Minnesota team, and while his defensive reputation is probably somewhat overrated, I think he is a solid, if fairly inconsistent, NBA small forward.

Personally, I love Brewer’s energy, and I have never fully forgiven Cuban for trading Brewer and not-Rudy Fernandez for a 2016 2nd round pick. The Mavs are constantly in need of youth and defense, and Brewer has both.

Also considered: Gerald Green, Caron Butler

Starting Power Forward: Brandon Bass

I remember Brandon Bass as a sort of quasi-Shawn Marion type of big man. After salvaging his young career by doing a little bit of everything while backing up Dirk for two seasons, Bass has had a pretty good career in Orlando and Boston. He isn’t phenomenal at anything but is fairly solid at everything.

I wavered a bit between Bass and Elton Brand here. and a couple of years ago, I probably would’ve gone with Brand. Brand is obviously the more talented of the two, but he is well past his prime. Meanwhile Bass is only twenty-eight and is exactly the sort of dependable glue guy that every starting roster needs.

Also considered: Elton Brand, Kris Humphries

Starting Center: Tyson Chandler

Finally something we can all agree on, right?

The debate about whether to re-sign Chandler back in 2011 was a flaming hot one that broke the Mavericks fan base into "Team Bring Everyone Back" vs. "Team Powder." I’m not looking to rehash that here, but I think in hindsight, most of us can agree that the past few years would’ve been better with Chandler on the roster.

Chandler was the best center the Mavs ever had, Dirk loved him, and he was arguably the biggest reason the fantastically cohesive 2011 team was able to come together for that magical thrill ride. He is still one of the better defensive centers in the league, and since my other options here were Alex Ajinca or starting a power forward (Brand, Bass, or Kris Humphries) at center, this was the easiest pick of all.

Also considered: No one, this was obvious.

Role Players: Elton Brand, Darren Collison, O.J. Mayo, Caron Butler

I find it more than a little worrisome that three of the four All-FM bench players were members of the worst Mavs team I’ve experienced as a fan. Nevertheless, these were the best options. Brand was a bright spot last year and is a smart, hardworking big off the bench who can cover both frontcourt positions. Collison and Mayo may be terrible starters, particularly when playing with each other in a Dirk-oriented offense, but both are pretty valuable as rotation players. The Caron Butler edition of the 2011 Mavericks was probably the best Mavericks team I’ve ever seen, and Butler is still a solid veteran contributor off the bench for an extremely young Bucks team.

Also considered: Jason Terry, J.J. Barea, Kris Humphries, Ian Mahinmi, Alex Ajinca

Never considered: Chris Kaman, Lamar Odom, Mike James, Derek Fisher, Rudy Fernandez

Some Concluding Thoughts

I think that with the right coach, this team could probably compete (at least in the East). I find it more than a little heartening that I don’t consider any of these players an obvious upgrade over his counterpart on the Mavs current roster. The obvious exception is Tyson Chandler, who couldn’t be more of an upgrade over Sam Dalembert. I think I’d still rather have Marion starting than Brewer, but I would definitely take Brewer off the bench instead of Jae Crowder. Otherwise, I like the current Mavs over the former ones.

Is anyone else worried about the paucity of talent amongst the pool of former Mavs? As far as I can tell, there are twenty-two former Mavs currently logging minutes for other NBA teams. Many of these are not big contributors, not a big part of their respective team’s rotation, or not healthy. Other than the nine players I chose for the team, there were really only five players than I even considered. My first impulse is to wonder what this says about the Mavericks front office. Focusing on acquiring veteran talent while producing draft bust after draft bust may have worked out in the past, but it has produced decidedly mixed results as of late. As far as I can tell, the Mavs simply have little interest in cultivating young talent.

If I missed anyone, let me know. Otherwise if you want to debate the team or the various pros & cons of the Cuban/Donnie brain trust, hit up the comments.

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