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Mavericks Not Worried About Bench Players

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Eleven games into the season, you might start to notice statistical trends and try to see if they're trending right or trending wrong.  For two players, Brendan Haywood and J.J. Barea, the stats are not trending the way you want to see.  Coming off the bench is clearly an adjustment for Haywood and he has been commended multiple times by his head coach on his acclimation to the move but the rebounding consistency appears to be an issue.  Historically, J.J. Barea has been a 34% shooter from 3-point range but has struggled to start the year by shooting 14%.

For Haywood, there have been questions about effort and energy when it comes to his rebounding numbers.  He is currently averaging 5.3 rebounds/game.  Haywood collected 17 rebounds in the game against Philadelphia.  In the following three games, he's collected a combined total of 7.  Coach Rick Carlisle believes it's a matter of size alongside Haywood and the ability for multiple teammates to attack the rim.  "I don't think it's an effort thing.  A lot of times, a guy like Brendan will have his body on somebody and Dirk will go snatch a rebound, Marion will
go snatch a rebound or Kidd," said Carlisle.  "Some of that is happenstance, some of it varies with our defenses.  If we're playing a lot of zone, sometimes that will engage our centers more on a rebounding basis.  Rebounds are not easy to come by, that's why you don't see one guy jumping out and being the leading rebounder by a ton."  The fact that the Mavericks usually have two seven-footers on the court at the same time does validate the reasoning.  Dirk Nowitzki's rebounding numbers have spiked from 7.7 rebounds last year to 8.6 this year. 

Per 36 minutes, Haywood would be averaging 9.4 rebounds a game, I believe many would take that number and be pleased.  Maybe people have been too spoiled with the results over time with Jason Terry and Shawn Marion.  Their adjustments to the bench have been relatively seamless and the results aren't radically effected.  Sure, there are obvious concerns about a player just getting a big paycheck and coasting, but I think it's too soon to jump to that conclusion.

To say J.J. Barea is starting the season cold from 3-point range is putting it nicely.  After 11 games, he is shooting 4-28 from beyond the arc.  His fearlessness and tenacity in regards to attacking to the rim is a huge asset to the team but one has to wonder if teams are starting to game-plan to negate his aggression and put him in spots where they're leaving him to shoot a jumper and negate his strength.  J.J. isn't a terrible shooting from 3-point range but he's much more effective by penetrating inside the defense.  When asked about his shooting and the issues with it Carlisle said, "We spent a little time yesterday (Thursday) on it.  I think a lot of it comes down to spacing and being able to step into shots, it's not a technique issue."  There is also a belief that situational shots do play a role in the results, "He (Barea) is a guy that tends to end up with the ball at the end of the shot clock and be flinging it up," said Carlisle.  "His willingness to do that is something that you love as a coach but it can negatively effect your percentage.  I don't look at the percentage as much as I do how he is systematically stepping into shots, not just him but everybody...he's just got to stay aggressive."

The trends are looking shaky, but remember, there is still a lot of the season left and numbers have a way of balancing themselves out.  One thing is for sure, it's better to be a 7-4 team with room to improve versus being a 4-7 team with room to improve.