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The "JET" role


The Mavericks did something that nobody else has done in a long time, and that nobody else is doing. By any real measure, they were the second most consistently successful team of the decade 2001-2011, winning 50 games every year, winning the most games in the Western Conference twice, making it to two NBA Finals, three Western Conference Finals, etc. etc.

But they did it, for most of those years, without a second "star" of any kind. You could say Steve Nash and you'd be right, though he wasn't nearly the star he would subsequently become, but after Nashy left (after 2004), they didn't really have one.

What they had, instead, was Jason Terry. Jason Eugene Terry. An undersized shooting guard, who was awful at defense, demonstrated poor bbiq pretty darn often and whose shooting percentage declined basically every year he was a Maverick.

Terry, who was a hero, a fourth-quarter wizard, whose confidence was so powerful and so infectious it was like it was literally another player on the court, one that was somehow way better than the otherwise abstract combination of talents that was Jason Terry.

Jason Terry, who always seemed to miss one of his two free throws, and never miss in the fourth quarter. Who always seemed to end every half by giving the other team free throws on a half-court chuck, and end every game by hitting a clutch three.

The question, then, is whether the "Jet" role is really a role, or a specific, Jason Eugene Terry phenomenon that cannot be duplicated. Because the Mavs could find a player who could duplicate Jason's 15-16 points, 43-45% shooting, 36-38% from three, 2-4 assists and 2 boards without all that trouble . Apparently, though Dirk isn't quite what he was in those days, with enough great roleplayers that'd be all the Mavericks need.

Unless they just really needed JET to make that work. And that's a pretty important question.

Hereabouts you hear the school of thought, pretty often, that there's no point in the Mavericks doing anything unless it means bringing in a superstar. You know the arguments by now. Call me crazy, but I think Dirk's going to have a huge bounceback year this year. Tim talked about it in a recent post, and I can't get out of my head the fact that everybody thought Tim Duncan was done, because of age, when he was suffering from plantar fasciitis a couple of years ago, and then...

If so, the Mavs still have a year or two where they could make a real dent with just Dirk and role players. Theoretically. I doubt it's these role players, to be honest, none of the old guys are quite who they were in 2011 and none of the new guys can replace Kidd and Peja and Tyson and all that. But it's theoretically possible and that's important because the Mavs probably aren't going to get that second superstar any time soon. There's none on the FA market next year, and time is running out.

Here's some facts about Monta Ellis. He's really, statistically, not as good a scorer as JET. It's hard to believe, but it's true.  In 2011, JET had an insane offensive rating of 109.8,though who he played with didn't exactly hurt. His effective fg% was 50.9%, his true shooting percentage was 54.5%.  Monta, by contrast, last year, had an OffRtg of 102.3, an efg% of 44.8 and a TS% of 49.3. In less advanced stats, he's just way, way worse at three-point shooting than Terry was, and that's a really important component of what the Mavs do.

On the other hand, if ever there were a team had reason to think an undersized two-guard, who can't play defense, with an outsized hero complex, was far from a disaster, it's this one. And hey, take a look at Monta's 2011, too. EFG 49.3%, TS% 53.6 (53 and 57 at home). Monta also grabs more boards, passes more often (although with roughly the same assist-to-turnover ratio, last year, 1.95 to 1.94), gets to the line more often, gets more steals, and takes way, way more shots at the rim, which is something the Mavericks have been missing for a while.

And for what it's worth, Boston didn't like Jet much, though nothing happened to his numbers (43%, 38%, 88% in 31 minutes with Dallas in 2012, 43%, 37%, 87% in 27 minutes with Boston). The Hawks, as Mark Cuban pointed out recently, didn't much either. Sometimes it's about the role a guy plays on your team. Sometimes it doesn't have as much to do with numbers

And if there ever was a team that could manage with one superstar and credible roleplayers--not that this year's crop is necessarily all that--of course it's the Mavericks. For a year or two more, anyhow.