With the news from Mike Fisher indicating that Roddy Beaubois is about three or four weeks away from playing, it's time to look from all of the angles for what could happen to the rotation. You always fear that the insertion of a critical player could mess with any existing chemistry. In the case of Beaubois, it's hard to imagine that he'll actually have a negative impact on the overall strength for the Mavericks, which is their team defense. The biggest impact he should have is on the offensive end and Dallas isn't exactly lighting the world on fire on that end of the court, so his arrival is very welcomed.
The team's overall weakness in terms of offense is pretty obvious and Dirk Nowitzki has acknowledged it, "We definitely need somebody who can consistently get in the paint and make stuff easier and I think that’s where we’re waiting on Roddy Beaubois to make some stuff happen because he’s that explosive guy that can get in the paint," Nowitzki said. "I think J-Kidd can’t do it anymore on a consistent basis. Jet’s a shooter. I’m a shooter. Caron’s more of a shooter, so we don’t really have a guy that consistently gets in the paint and makes stuff easy. Hopefully Roddy will come back and open our offense up a little bit."
So with that in mind, what could the rotation look like with all hands finally on deck?
The power forward and center rotation really won't be affected by Beaubois coming back, but that doesn't mean a little change in philosophy isn't worth looking into. Tyson Chandler logged a season-high 36 minutes against the Miami Heat. We've discussed the tag-team of Brenson Chanwood being a very healthy relationship and I believe that is still the case, but it might be time to bump Tyson's minutes up. He is averaging 27.9 minutes/game right now, I believe a 2 minute bump up could continue to do wonders for the team. The fact that Chandler he's been able to log 30+ minutes for 3 consecutive games is a promising sign. The Mavericks do understand they're tempting fate by pushing Chandler more than they need to so they're looking to make sure they don't overuse him during the season.
Haywood has had some his share of struggles to start the year, it doesn't help when they are magnified by the fact that Chandler is playing amazing basketball right now. When you add the situation over the weekend with the one game suspension due to violating team policies, things look very shaky for Haywood. I might be in the minority, but I don't believe in the idea that Haywood is a lost cause right now. He's clearly the backup now, it's time for him to answer a gut-check. You can add the threat of Ian Mahinmi taking a few minutes away from Haywood at the center spot. He filled in for Haywood against San Antonio and also got a couple minutes of action during the Heat game. A reduction in minutes, Mahinmi breathing down his neck and the subsequent reaction from Haywood should tell us quite a bit in terms of what the Mavericks are going to get from him going forward.
So the issue shifts towards the guards and what happens with them.
DeShawn Stevenson - He has really come into his own since moving into the starting lineup when Caron Butler had to sit out due to back spasms. Stevenson has brought his calling card toughness, but the fact he's shooting so well from beyond the arc is the nice surprise. You could say that teams will start to lock in on him and not leave him open. If that is the case, that's a plus because players like Jason Kidd, Butler and Nowitzki will be able to work with a little more room at their disposal. I believe he's earned minutes and there is a role that is perfect for him that will be discussed further down.
Jason Terry - The Jet has been back and forth this season, being a starter and coming off the bench as the 6th man. The season is still early, but Terry's shooting numbers are definitely stout. There can be games where he can start 1-7 but he finds a way to get hot and it's led to him shooting 46% from the field this season. He has struggled over the past three games but he's still producing better numbers compared to last season. There are some important attributes that appear to be leading towards the success for Terry and we are going to discuss that more in the coming days, so be on the lookout for that.
J.J. Barea - To say Barea is struggling is putting it very nicely. He's still able to penetrate into the lane and causes issues for the opposing defense but his shooting numbers are downright atrocious right now. He's shooting 36.1% from the field and 15.8% from beyond the arc.
So how do all the pieces fit together going forward? I actually believe the perfect role for Stevenson is the exact role he is in at the moment, the starting shooting guard. Granted he is the starter, he doesn't really get starter's minutes. DeShawn is only averaging 12 minutes/game. His role is to set the tone with his defense and spread the floor with his shooting, that will remain the same but he'll just be setting the table for Beaubois instead of Terry.
With Stevenson starting, I would go ahead and keep Butler as the starting small forward. It's been a strong subject of debate in regards to whether Shawn Marion or Caron Butler is the better fit as the starting small forward. It's hard to dispute the fact the offense was surprisingly fluid when Marion and Stevenson were starting at the wing positions. If you keep Stevenson in and move Roddy to the bench, I believe you want Butler to keep offense an option with the first unit and Marion on the second unit to help support the group in terms of defense.
Essentially, Beaubois becomes the new 6th man and he's the first guard to come off the bench in place of Stevenson. To me, this is very similar to the role San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili filled last season. He came off the bench for most of the season and provided that wild-card aspect where Manu could use his explosion and also hurt you with his long-range shooting abilities. Ginobili's minutes from last year actually sound like a comparable l fit for Beaubois as well, Ginobili averaged 28.7 minutes/game. Those are enough minutes for Roddy to be effective and not over-exert the second year guard. He'll be coming back from missing several months due to injury and adjusting to receiving consistent minutes, this feels like a good fit.
The question then becomes who takes a reduced role, Jason Terry or J.J. Barea? The Mavericks know they have an issue with the back-up point guard position. It might be that the problem has been magnified due to injuries. A vast majority of his minutes have been at the shooting guard position, could that change with Roddy coming back? I actually think that is the case. The fact that Terry got minutes at the point guard position during the preseason seem to indicate that the interest was mutual between Terry and the staff to get him familiarized with playing the spot again, why? Maybe it was the plan all along to have him be the backup point guard because the Roddy-PG experiment was a bust over the summer and they were going to run with the idea of Beaubois being the shooting guard.
Everyone, including Terry, knows that Roddy will be given opportunities to succeed. Those opportunities will come at the expense of certain players and Terry is at risk of having his minutes reduced. The way to work around that is being able to handle the minutes behind Jason Kidd. I really don't have any doubts in the ability of Beaubois and Terry to work together and play off each other when they're on the court. The fact that Roddy could hang around the 28 minute mark, with Stevenson's 10 minutes, Terry can still get shooting guard minutes but most of his minutes will come from the point guard position.
Barea will then become the 3rd point guard which is probably the best role for him. With that player, you're think of someone like Darrell Armstrong: a player you use when you're searching for a spark, can provide instant energy on both sides of the floor but they have defined limitations. A player in that position doesn't really get stable minutes. Despite that, I think with Carlisle's respect for Barea's game, that will allow him to get some minutes but they'll be severely cut compared to what he's getting now.
Here's a rough draft minute-by-minute breakdown
Small Forward: Caron Butler (30), Shawn Marion (18) - Marion still fills out as the back-up 4 behind Dirk
Shooting Guard: DeShawn Stevenson (10), Roddy Beaubois (26), Jason Terry (12)
Point Guard: Jason Kidd (32), Jason Terry (13), J.J. Barea (3)
It's definitely a rough draft and it's open to flexibility. Rick Carlisle has shown this season that's he's keeping an eye on trends over the course of each game and will run with the hot player offensively or defensively. It'll be interesting to see how the rotation looks when the Mavericks have Beaubois enter back into the mix. Things are going great for the team right now and they hope the best is yet to come.