Author's note: Here's the start of a five-part series breaking down the Mavericks' strength at each positive, relative to the rest of the Western Conference. The rest of the series will be coming over the next couple of weeks. Enjoy!
Considering the Mavericks have had the two of the greatest point guards in league history over the past decade, the point guard position has been remarkably inconsistent. It's almost hard to believe Jason Terry was the floor general in the 2006 Finals run.
There's no Jason Kidd or Steve Nash coming to save the Mavericks, but the Mavericks have to feel better about the situation at the point that the past couple of years. Say what you want about Jose Calderon's contract, but his lack of turnovers and elite shooting touch are a godsend to the Mavericks.
Last year, Collison was anything but a steady hand. Calderon's addition will help diversify the offense, and, when it comes to winning time, focus it in on Dirk. How many cuss words were dropped in the fourth quarter of close games as the ball never rotated to Dirk?
Behind Calderon are two young guys in Shane Larkin and Gal Mekel. Despite the fact that both are unproven at an NBA-level, it actually feels good to have two rookies duking it out for a back-up role. The Mavericks are hoping a 15-18 stint running the team will be a perfect opportunity to introduce these guys to the league.
The wildcard is Devin Harris. Although it seems likely that he'll receive a fair share of his minutes at the 2, he's certainly a more-than-capable point guard who's able to step in as a veteran presence. More importantly, he'll be able to add a much-needed defensive presence that Calderon lacks.
Ranking the conference
1. LA Clippers: Give me a Chris Paul/Darren Collison duo as the best point guard position in the league. We all know CP3 is a point god, but DC helps push them to the top. Although he bombed as a starter last season, his isolation/transition game fits perfectly into a back-up role in Los Angeles. As if their fast break wasn't dangerous enough already...
2. San Antonio: Tony Parker is the man. That's not even a question. But can Nando de Colo or Cory Joseph handle things when he's out?
3. Denver: Ty Lawson is criminally underrated in this league and you can't go wrong with the ever-steady Andre Miller behind him. Denver might be due for a down-season, but their point guard production should be good as ever.
4. Portland: Maybe the Trail Blazers are a surprise pick this high, but Damian Lillard is cold-blooded and grabbing vet Mo Williams was a great pick-up to soak up the minutes behind him.
5. Golden State: I couldn't leave Steph Curry off the list any longer. There's no player more fun to watch play offense in the league if you ask me. But they did lose Jarrett Jack and Toney Douglas doesn't inspire me with confidence.
6. Oklahoma City: Russell Westbrook is incredible, but there's questions with him coming off major surgery. The back-up spot has been a problem for OKC for a long time (why else did Derek Fisher still have a job last year?) and Reggie Jackson may or may not being able to fill that hole.
7. Dallas: Here's where the Mavericks end up in my estimation. They lack an elite point guard most the teams above them have, but have a solid floor general and lots of depth. Of course, if neither Mekel or Larkin are able to provide quality minutes, this ranking is probably a little high.
8. Memphis: Mike Conley doesn't get talked about enough, but he's been incredibly steady for the Grizz pretty much his entire career. As far as a back-up point guard, Jerryd Bayliss also fits Memphis quite well.
9. New Orleans: I really don't know what to make of Jrue Holiday. Good stats, but everyone says he's not as good as he seems. They don't have a true back-up behind him, so I'm going to stick the
Hornets Pelicans into the ninth spot and hope it's accurate.
10: Sacramento: They have a weird combination of Greivis Vasquez, Isaiah Thomas and Jimmer Fredette (JIMMER!) all competing for minutes for the point guard. Lots of talent, but I'm not sure how it's going to fit.
11. Houston: Jeremy Lin was so meh last year. Maybe Patrick Beverley will surprise us all and take the starter spot away from him, and inspire Gal Mekel to do the same. Wait, what?
12. Minnesota: When it comes to around-the-back passes, they'd probably be top three. But Ricky Rubio and Alexey Shved is not a duo that leaves people shaking...not yet, anyhow. Give them a couple years. Also, (noted NBA Star) JJB is on this team, which is cool and all.
13. Utah: Trey Burke has too big of balls not to develop into a good NBA player over time, but it'll take just that: time. It's an exciting time for the Jazz with all their young players and they should be moving up this list in the years to come.
14. Phoenix: Goran Dragic and Kendall Marshall. But they're going for Wiggins anyway, so does it even matter? edit: It's come to my attention that they have Eric Bledsoe, and so that would probably move them up a spot or two. He completely slipped my mind.
15. LA Lakers: I LOVE YOU, NASHY, BUT YOU'RE REALLY OLD.