How important has the Mavericks bench been to the team's overall success?
Kirk Henderson (@kirkseriousface): Vital. The Mavericks starting line-up is explosive but the NBA is filled with smart coaches so after a time they became predictable. Vince is a solid option off the bench but at 37 he took almost half the season to really round into form. Devin's return was vital to the uptick in play off the bench for Dallas in January and February. Without the bench playing well, this team won't win.
Andy (@andytobo): It's been important. It's a little thinner than it usually is, which is a big reason the team is struggling more than in their golden days. Vince isn't prime-time JET. But, the Mavs are a bit weird, they've got Marion who only sometimes scores and whatever C they start with who often doesn't score at all so having point-machines like Wright and Vince, and a capable PG in Harris, coming off the bench makes a real difference.
Doyle Rader (@TheKobeBeef): There are really only three rotation players coming off the bench. Carter, Harris, and Wright are the workhorses. Blair has given the Mavs some solid minutes this season but his minutes fluctuate. Outside of that, Dallas doesn't really have much to show from the bench. Sure, Crowder has seen a lot of playing time but other than some obscure and puzzling statistics, he hasn't given the team tangible results. Larkin is a fun prospect, Mekel is still rehabbing, Ellington has proven he can play when called upon, and then there is Sarge. Poor Sarge. Outside of the main three, the bench is kinda meh.
Tim Cato (@tim_cato): The "bench mob" isn't much of a mob, but the trio of Vince, Devin and Wright has been simply fantastic. The fact that Wright has developed chemistry so easily with both of them just points to how fantastic an offensive player he is, and while none of those players are elite defenders, they hold their own.
Where does Vince Carter fall in the sixth man of the year award?
Tim: He won't win -- I'll go with Taj Gibson personally, since Jamal Crawford is now starting -- but he will probably get more talk than last year, where he was equally deserving. It's almost forgotten how bad he was at the beginning of the season, but I'm very glad he's turned it around when he's been given some bench help from Wright and Devin.
Kirk: He's got to be in the top 8-10 people in the league. Taj Gibson is the clear winner in my mind, but after wanting to send Carter to the stockade during the first months of the season, he's really rounded into form. I've found myself wondering as of late what Dallas does without him next year.
Andy: I don't think he' s a strong contender. Vince has been, for the Mavs, a consistent source of points and at least an effort guy on the defensive end. But his shooting numbers aren't good this season (12 points is good, not great for a bench guy, 41% from the field is downright bad), and his propensity for bad shots has upticked in a significant way. The Mavs need him, but it'd be better if they didn't need him basically.
Doyle: Top five, maybe. That could be generous but his play of late has been superb and certainly raises his stock. He's gunning away like he's playing NBA Jam. That's both good and bad. Taj Gibson and Markieff Morris are the clear frontrunners for Sixth Man this season, though.
Who holds the final rotation spot headed into the final stretch of the season (we're assuming the Mavericks are still in the hunt), Wayne Ellington or Jae Crowder?
Tim: I'm a Wayne Ellington fan and I've really enjoyed what he's brought to the offensive rotation over the last couple of weeks. But I can't help but have a sinking suspicious that Jae Crowder will squeeze his way back in before all is said and done.
Kirk: I suspect Carlisle goes with Crowder. He trusts his defense more. I don't agree because this team sucks defensively and 10 minutes of Crowder doesn't fix that. I think they should just embrace the goal of 120 points a game and Ellington can contribute there in ways Crowder isn't capable of.
Andy: Well, Ellington got all of Jae's minutes until he had to skip a game for "personal reasons" so right now it's Ellington. And he's actually been excellent, on offense lately, shooting over 50%, 47% from three in more than 12 minutes a game in Feb. Jae was 2-2 from three and even grabbed 4 boards against Denver, but a lot of that was in garbage time. Feels like it's Wayne's spot to lose.
Doyle: Jae has that really obscure defensive stat going in his favor that I believe we've discussed before on the site. That bodes well for him. Ellington, though, can actually take and make shots. That's kind of a big deal. Dallas doesn't play a lick of defense so their ability to score should take precedent. This would give Make It Wayne the upper hand. Of course, this is Carlisle. He will tinker and tinker until he can tinker no more. It will probably just depend on the matchups.