I thought going through the Mavs' current depth chart would be good both for the people who think this Mavs roster can't compete-which, since it has 9 people on it currently, is almost undoubtedly true, and for those who are excited by the recent moves (me! Me!). And that it would be fun for me and be good for us to think more concretely about what the Mavericks still need.
So, without further ado.
Point Guard: 1. Jose Calderon 2. Shane Larkin, Gal Mekel, or maybe Devin Harris? And Josh Akognon?
Shooting Guard: 1. Devin Harris 2. Ricky Ledo
Small Forward: 1. Shawn Marion 2. Vince Carter 3. Jae Crowder
Power Forward 1. Dirk Nowitzki
Center: 1. Bernard James
While this is based on last year's depth chart and current contracts, a more likely lineup has Carter playing some 2, Marion or Crowder playing some 4, and, of course, six more players on the team. However, I think this probably shows pretty decently the facts, which is that the Mavs still have a big hole at center, probably need another 2-guard (preferably a 3 and D kind of guy) and a backup PF.
I think both the Mavs and Mavs fans would be happy if that backup PF turned out to be Brandan Wright, who really came on in the second half of the season and since there hasn't been any chatter about him AND the Mavericks have his Early Bird Rights, this seems pretty likely.
As for Ledo, he does not have a guaranteed contract, apparently has a world of talent, never played college ball, sounds like a member of the Cobra Kai Dojo and has been called, by one (anonymous) prep coach "The single worst human being I've ever been associated with on a basketball court," which is such a good quote I hope it's written in basically every article that's ever written about Ledo. But the sum of these parts is that I'll believe he makes the Mavs and plays a role this season when I see it.
I also don't think the Mavericks have yet picked up Bernard James' option for next season, and while they probably will for depth reasons, this is a guy who played 5 minutes over the last 10 games of the season, even when the playoffs were obviously out of reach. So I don't think they seem him, at this point, as a big future piece.
So, a more realistic depth chart would look like this:
Point Guard: Jose Calderon, Devin Harris, Shane Larkin
Shooting Guard Devin Harris, Vince Carter
Small Forward Shawn Marion, Vince Carter (or vice versa), Jae Crowder
Power Forward Dirk Nowitzki, Brandan Wright, Shawn Marion...Jae Crowder?
Make of that what you will, but to me it points to a serious effort to get at least one more big piece this offseason, and, if possible, that's likely to be a center. Unfortunately, that won't be easy. As of right now, Houston doesn't want to trade Asik and it's not clear that Bynum will work out for anybody-desperate as things are, the Mavs aren't going to sign Bynum sight unseen, unless it's for some ridiculously low amount. Which it won't be.
About the Mavs one big FA splash, so far, Jose Calderon,I have this to say
There are plenty of people out there complaining because Calderon isn't very good at defense, or because his contract is too long, or because he's too old. To them all I can say is that beggars, contrary to the old saying, CAN be choosers, but they often discover that it's a LITTLE bit hard to sign completely perfect players to completely perfect contracts. Sometimes.
Calderon is only 32, which turns out not to be old. He's one of the top-4 passing point guards in the league, which turns out to be good. He has lots of assists and very few turnovers, which turns out to be good. Calderon is number one in the NBA at points per play from spot-up jumpers, at 1.71, as our Alan Smithee pointed out here. He holds the league record for free throw percentage in a season at 98%.
It is, in a way, too bad that Calderon's defense--which is probably a little better than Darren Collison's, for what it's worth-- adds a Dallas need. But if we can all stop thinking it's over tomorrow, and start thinking, again, about building a team, knowing the point guard position is set as far as passing is concerned is pretty good. Devin Harris will probably play the two, mostly, and as Hal Brown points out here, Harris is capable of providing the strong defense from the two that having Calderon at the one requires. He's also capable, as many other commenters have pointed out, of not putting forth the consistent effort necessary to do so. We'll see.
Anyhow. As you can see, it's not a good team yet, but it's a smarter team than it was last year and probably a more competent one. They need more than this to compete next season, and it's clear enough the positions that "more" will need to play. A couple more good moves could make Dallas an intriguing team this year with cap space to spend next year, and one more big one could make them a lot better than people expect. Meanwhile, no more good or big moves would leave them pretty bad and pretty thin. Let's get it.