Last season Jason Kidd and Jason Terry worked their magic especially in crunch time with Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion and Tyson Chandler. They led the NBA in virtually every major clutch-category. This year? Not so much.
Besides all the other problems with the Center rotation and Lamar Odom not performing well thus far, the first games of the regular season presented a problem in an area that was supposed to be well tuned and unchanged from last year: The glorious "Jason" backcourt from the championship roster might not be able to repeat its magic. The reason is pretty simple: Without Chandler holding the middle and the defensive chemistry not quite there yet (or gone to Toronto with Dwane Casey), much more is asked from the perimeter defense and both Terry and Kidd can't provide that. They also couldn't last season, but it was masked by superior rotations and brilliant teamwork. Now that the Mavs are forced to rely on individual effort more than ever, the number pile up heavily against the "Jason" backcourt in the early going.
Ricky Rubio led the Minnesota offense to 170.78 Points per 100 Possessions (Offensive Efficiency) against the Jasons in the 4th (122.28 Overall) and he adds himself to a growing list of quick, young guards that abused the elderlies in the first games of this season. The Nuggets, led by Ty Lawson, posted an Offensive Efficiency of 144.02, outscoring them 49-32. Russell Westbrook and company (James "The Beard" Harden anyone?) outscored the Jasons 104-82 with an Efficiency of 141.28. Miami vs. the Jasons: 133.33. The only decent Defensive Efficiency came against the Raptors (102.08), who don't have that many players that cause problems breaking down your defense. Apart from that these are just horrible numbers.
Click through to see the defensive statistics of the Mavs guard combinations.
* pp100 = per 100 Possessions
As you can see, the Jasons come out at the bottom in nearly every category, yet play the most minutes (and possessions) together. They allow more Fastbreak Points, Points in the Paint, Free Throws, AND1s, force lesser Turnovers and opponents shoot about 10% better.
The main problem is getting back on the defensive end after a missed shot attempt, block or steal. In that situation the Jasons Defensive Efficiency is 150.66 and opponents eFG% is 78.13.
I mean, it's really ugly.
Roddy looks especially solid when teamed up with Terry (in fact, that's the only pairing that actually outscored anyone over the first games) and works active on the defensive end, stays in front of opponents, force steals and stuff. He could teach Ricky Rubio a thing or two on the court. This lineup also provided the only run late in the second half in the Denver game, which otherwise was completely unwatchable if you're a Mavs fan. Roddy's pairing with Kidd and West also puts up good numbers, but the sample size isn't just there. But regardless of these numbers Carlisle seems unwilling to make him a regular rotation player right now and there are no signs that this will change in the near future. And at this point there's no need not to believe that Carlisle has his reasons for that.
Meanwhile West also clearly is defensive minded and even carries offensive load lately. He has the starting gig for now, but will disappear in crunch time and then the Jasons take over again.
So the big question is: If the numbers stay that way, will Carlisle slowly walk away from the Jasons? It's really hard, because that duo proved to be so reliable and important during the championship campaign and surely the Coach envisions these two to be the Mavs crunch time backcourt this season again. Also you should be careful at this state of the season (and the current sample size) to jump to conclusions. There will be better matchups for the Jasons like Toronto and the team has certainly other problems that affect their play.
But for now a backcourt consisting of either Roddy or West teamed up with only one Jason proves to be the better lineup because of the boost in perimeter defense. So if Carlisle plans to stick with them, the Jasons better get it together rather sooner than later. Otherwise those Rubios and Westbrooks and Lawsons will come after them night in and night out and it won't be pretty.