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Mavs Are Thin At Small Forward Without Carter, But Not Out Of Options

During the free agency I've mentioned the Mavericks needs at the small-forward spot. The situation right shows you exactly why. Shawn Marion is the only true SF on the roster and he and Vince Carter eat up 80% of the time at that spot outside garbage minutes right now. The other 20% belong to Odom (17%), Cardinal (2%) and rarely used three-guard lineups (1%).

Carter has been playing solid lately and Carlisle can basically go small or tall off the bench without him. There is no in-between. Either go with a three-guard lineup or Odom/Cardinal. Although the Coach won't be able to field a traditional lineup outside Marion, this doesn't mean the Mavericks suddenly ran out of options. Despite Lamar's overall struggles, his numbers at the SF-spot are much better than his numbers at the PF-spot:

Position PlayerName GameCount MIN PPS eFG% ASTTOV TRB% PER WS48 WP48 OFF DEF PM
SF Shawn Marion 13 362.95 0.849 43.33 1.49 11.41 15.08 0.116 0.159 96.69 97.12 -10.53
SF Vince Carter 11 154.78 0.962 50.00 1.22 8.27 13.50 0.127 0.039 104.76 92.94 9.69
SF Lamar Odom 11 124.15 0.800 39.53 1.83 16.02 13.07 0.094 0.079 110.56 102.26 4.73
PF Lamar Odom 12 159.63 0.651 33.06 0.74 12.54 3.16 -0.075 -0.278 97.19 99.42 -8.78
PF Dirk Nowitzki 13 386.23 1.011 48.27 1.31 10.17 20.90 0.189 0.084 105.47 93.65 16.97

This is a comparison in the major categories of the Mavs forward rotation. You'll see Odom's struggles at both positions with his shooting, but outside scoring it gets interesting, because you can certainly make a point that you lose very little overall production at the SF-spot when replacing Carter with Odom. Carter scores more, but Odom is the Mavs best rebounding forward, a better distributor and therefore is really close in the advanced metrics. The more interesting part of this comparison is Lamar at PF vs. Lamar at SF. Every single category gets worse with him playing PF and so more playing time at his "preferred" spot might lead to a more friendly boxscore. The majority of his time at SF he spends alongside Dirk and that seems to help him, although the tandem hasn't looked too shark so far.

The other possibility for Carlisle is to go small with a three-guard lineup. We don't have reliable data for that this season, because these lineups have been used, if at all, in garbage time. But last season the three-guard lineup was a reliable weapon and I may refer to an article I wrote last season about that topic.

So like Kidd's injury this may be a blessing in disguise for the Mavs. Don't be too confused if Odom "suddenly" will shine with more minutes at the 3. He has been significantly better at that spot all season anyway. The Mavs also had success with small lineups last season especially with Rodrigue Beaubois, so these are two quality options outside Carter the Mavs can use. No worries.