Strengths and Weaknesses
In today's NBA, the 3-and-D guy is ideal for role players on the wing. The Spurs just proved that -- at least for teams not featuring LeBron James -- three point shooting and defense win championships. The most efficient way to get better is to get several guys, most of whom will come off the bench, who can do both of those things well. Thabo Sefolosha has a reputation as that guy.
So why isn't he getting more free agency press?
Even though he is (probably) a fairly affordable veteran, who has quality starting and bench experience, people aren't really talking about Thabo this off-season. That is likely because Sefolosha had something of a down year. While known for his defense and three point shooting, Thabo only hit 31.6 percent of his threes last season, down from 41.9 percent the previous season. That percentage dropped to a god-awful 26 percent in the playoffs. As a result of this funk, Thabo went from the starting lineup to DNP-CD in half of the Western Conference Finals games. Not exactly what you expect from a veteran role player in a contract year.
However, if you think that Sefolosha can bounce back, he can bring a lot to a team for a pretty affordable price. At 30, Thabo is still a quality defender, old enough that his brings a lot of wisdom and experience but still young enough to stick with the young guns athletically. Whether he is starting or coming off the bench, Thabo is probably good for about 20-25 minutes a night, 5-8 points per game and a few rebounds and assists. He is a good veteran presence who knows how to play his role.
Fit with the Mavericks
If you're like me, you think that one of the Mavericks' biggest needs this off-season is to find a defense-oriented guard to break up the defensive sieve that was the Jose-Monta backcourt. Thabo can definitely be that guy and will be a lot cheaper than Lance Stephenson.
Honestly though, I'm not sure there's much that Thabo brings to the table that the Mavs can't get from Wayne Ellington. Last August, Pounding the Rock took a fairly definitive look at the NBA's best 3 and D guys. Based on stats from the 2013 season, it turns out that Thabo had the seventh best "3-and-D rating," while Wayne was two spots behind him at nine. Even more interesting, Ellington has been a much more consistent 3-point shooter over his (albeit much shorter) career. Ellington is a career 38.6 percent three point shooter, as compared to Sefolosha's 34.8 percent, and Ellington has never averaged less than 32 percent from three.
That said, in my opinion you want the majority of your wing players to be quality 3-and-D guys, so why not have both Thabo and Wayne? This is even more the case if Vince Carter doesn't come back, since Thabo is big enough to play both wing positions. But if Vince, Shawn Marion, and Devin Harris all come back, you probably don't have the minutes available to justify bringing in Thabo.