The Dallas Mavericks ONCE AGAIN retooled their roster. Tyson Chandler, Chandler Parsons and Jameer Nelson highlight the busy offseason, with many other pieces expected to contribute.
With the drastic change in the roster, there is plenty of uncertainty. Fit, roles, and minutes are all relative unknowns. One thing is evident: this roster has plenty depth and talent. How will it be used? Who will be left out?
We'll have to wait and see what Rick Carlisle has planned, but we I take a quick look at what to maybe expect out of the new look Mavs.
No longer will we see Shawn Marion, Jose Calderon, and Samuel Dalembert lineup alongside Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki this season. Will the new starting lineup be able to mesh as well as last seasons'?
Jameer Nelson (PG)
Nelson was brought in to lock down the starting point guard spot. Despite Raymond Felton on the roster, expect either Nelson or Devin Harris on the court at all times. Nelson playing around 24 minutes, maybe more, shouldn't be a surprise.
Fit: Two things to consider about the addition of Nelson. He was the best point guard available (excluding Eric Bledsoe and Kyle Lowry) and he'll happily run the pick-and-roll over and over and over again. He should be a slight upgrade over Calderon on the defensive end.
Question: Will Nelson be able to excel in a similar role as Calderon did last season? During his time with the Magic, he was usually the top one or two ball handler. He'll now have to share the ball with Monta Ellis, Chandler Parsons, Dirk Nowitzki and others.
Monta Ellis (SG)
Ellis is coming off one of his best seasons in a long time and made a strong case as a reliable sidekick to Nowitzki. Expect big minutes again for Mr. Have It All, even with Parsons and the new guards in the mix.
Fit: We know what to expect with Ellis. He'll come up with exciting and big plays, but will also do something that makes you want to throw something. With Tyson Chandler Parsons, Ellis will have new weapons around him. No more "Pizza Hands" dropping passes and no more useless kick outs to Shawn Marion in the corner.
Question: Which Ellis will we get? Will he build off of last year or will he regress to his Bucks' days? Also, IF he's asked to play off the ball more than last season, will he be able to improve his range to be a reliable threat from outside? Will he still be a defensive liability?
Chandler Parsons (SF/PF)
Probably the biggest signing of the Dirk-era. Parsons brings a lot to the table for the Mavs and will have plenty of opportunities to show it. Like Ellis, expect Parsons to see plenty of time on the court. He averaged just under 38 minutes last season -- 35 or so should be a safe expectation for the new Mav.
Fit: If Ellis is "Mr. Have It All" then Parsons is "Mr. Do It All". He'll make plays, finish inside, knock down the three, rebound and defend. He showed last season he can play alongside stars, so playing next to Nowitzki and Ellis shouldn't be a problem for him. Marion's defense will be missed, but Parsons has the potential and tools to be a decent factor on that side.
Question: Can he live up to the contract? We all know Parsons isn't quite a max player, but the max was needed to steal him away from Houston. Will he be able to push Ellis as the Mavs' second best player? And, have we seen the best of Parsons or does the 25-year old have a lot more game to show? The Mavs aren't expecting him to be their best player, but they want him to have a bigger impact and role than he had in Houston.
Dirk Nowitzki (PF)
The face of the Mavericks is back and took a larger than expected pay cut to make it happen. Nowitzki had a great season and will look to continue fighting off Father Time.
Fit: If it's one thing we know, it's that Nowitzki can play with almost anyone. He'll have his championship center --Tyson Chandler -- defending the paint and rebounding. And he'll now have both Ellis and Parsons making his life easier on the offensive end, as he'll still be asked to be the team's number one option and leader.
Question: Will Nowitzki be able to continue playing at an All-Star level and will Rick Carlisle be able to keep his minutes below 30? The Mavs added plenty of talent to the roster, will it result in a fresher Nowitzki? We saw moments last season where he just didn't have any lift on his jumper. The Mavs need to limit his minutes, especially with age, fatigue and knee concerns looming.
Tyson Chandler (C)
The Mavs' 2011 defensive anchor is back and it couldn't have happened at a better time. But there's plenty of pressure for Chandler, and his defense, rebounding, energy and leadership will counted on this season. Chandler played some heavy minutes during his time with the Knicks. Like Nowitzki, keeping him below 30 minutes may be the best course over the 82 game schedule.
Fit: Chandler should find it easier fitting into this group than the first Mavs squad he was on. Ellis, Nelson, Harrisand Parsons should create plenty of easy opportunities for him to finish inside. He's easily the team's best rebounder and defender at this point.
Question: Can he stay healthy, regain his defensive player of the year form, and make up for the lack of defense in the starting lineup? In his first stint with Dallas, Marion, Jason Kidd, and DeShawn Stevenson were starting alongside him, plenty of good-to-great defenders. Now he'll be asked to not just cover for Nowitzki, but for almost every other Maverick starting alongside him.
His job is simple, make this team a decent and respectable defensive squad. Will he be able to?
Like the starting lineup, the bench will have plenty of new faces. The Mavs won't be able to turn to Vince Carter and DeJuan Blair to play big minutes and roles. The first two off the Mavs bench are expected to be familiar faces. After that, it's a crapshoot, and Carlisle will have plenty of options to consider.
Devin Harris (PG/SG)
The Mavs new sixth man has big shoes to fill. From Nick Van Exel to Antawn Jamison to Jerry Stackhouse to Jason Terry and, most recently, Vince Carter, the Mavs have relied heavily on their sixth man to not just produce, but to produce at a large clip.
Fit: The Mavs were a far better team last season when Harris was healthy and on the court. He'll be asked to play and defend both guard spots. He'll probably play at least half the game and be part of the closing unit.
Question: Which Harris will we see, the regular season or playoff version? Harris drastically struggled with his shot during the season, which could have been the result of missing the first 41 games of the season. But in the playoffs, we saw a completely different Harris. Harris was able break the defense and consistently knock down shots.
Brandan Wright (C/PF)
Wright will be asked to do more than just the occasional "Wright Stuff" with Blair out of town.
Fit: Wright excels in the pick-and-roll and that's no secret. Expect him and Harris to team up for plenty of plays, as the tandem built a great chemistry last season.
Question: Will he be more than just an offensive threat? Over the last few seasons we've seen Elton Brand and Blair steal his minutes away because of his lack of defense and rebounding. Despite having Greg Smith on the roster, the Mavs won't have the luxury of sitting Wright for long stretches or games. They'll need him on the court and effective on both sides.
Richard Jefferson (SF/SG)
The one time Nets' star could be in line for some big minutes in Dallas.
Fit: With Harris handling the playmaking duties, he could easily earn his way into Carlisle's rotation because of his shooting.
Question: Can he emulate Vince Carter? Jefferson isn't the playmaker Carter is, but his ability to knock down the 3-ball and get the occasional dunk make him the most likely option to fill the role.
Jae Crowder (SF/SG/PF)
Crowder seems to defy the law of physics, but in a basketball context. It seems he never does much, but the Mavs are somehow better with him on the court.
Fit: With Marion gone, Crowder may be the Mavs best wing defender. If he can become a more reliable and consistent 3-point threat, he can easily find himself playing around 15 minutes.
Question: Do the new additions cut him out of the rotation? Crowder's minutes took a big hit with Harris returning from injury and in the playoffs. The Mavs have added plenty of new wings, will he be able to outplay them as he outplayed Wayne Ellington last season and sneak into the rotation for the third straight season?
Raymond Felton (PG/SG)
The throw-in in the Chandler trade may have a role on the Mavs.
Fit: Nelson and Harris will mostly handle the point guard responsibilities, leaving Felton as the backup to Ellis (if he's in the rotation). Like his guard counterparts, his ability to run the pick-and-roll will be a viable tool for the Mavs.
Question: Can he be more Nuggets Felton than Knicks Felton? Felton spent a small time (21 games) with the Nuggets during the 2011 season. Ty Lawson was running the point for the Nuggets, with Felton as a reserve. Felton shot 45.9 percent from three and averaged 11.5 points. If he can excel in that role for the Mavs, he could be a steal instead of a throw-in.
Greg Smith (PF/C)
The bruising body could push Wright for minutes.
Fit: Smith is going to do the simple things for the Mavs: rebound, defend and finish inside.
Question: Will be see him play alongside or over Wright? We know that Carlisle prefers to go with a power forward who can spread the court. With that, can Smith show enough to earn court time? If so, will it be at the expense of Wright?
Al-Farouq Aminu (SF/PF)
The Rashard Lewis alternative should have been the first choice.
Fit: Aminu won't offer much on the offensive end of the court, but he defends and rebounds, two things the Mavs sorely need.
Question: Will his offense keep him off the court? Aminu is projected to backup both Nowitzki and Parsons IF he gets playing time. If he can be somewhat of a decent threat from the perimeter then there should be no doubt he'll get plenty of time with the Mavs. Issue will be if his offense doesn't improve.
Ricky Ledo (SG/SF)
Another year in the D-League
Fit: Barring injuries or a shock, Ledo will probably spend plenty of time in the D-League.
Question: Can he show enough to Carlisle and the Mavs? Whether it's training camp, preseason, D-League, or small stints with the Mavs, Ledo will need to show he's more substance than potential.
Gal Mekel (PG)
Time to show what he can offer after a subpar and injury-tarnished season.
Fit: Like Ledo, he'll spend plenty of time in the D-League.
Question: Will he prove he's an NBA point guard? The Mavs were desperate for point guard depth last season and brought in Mekel. He was asked to fill in as the backup to Calderon due to Harris and Shane Larkin being hurt. It was obvious he wasn't ready. With two years left on his deal, a poor showing in training camp/preseason could force the Mavs to eat the money and part with him.
The Mavs can only have fifteen players under contract. One of these players (if not both) will most likely not make the roster.
The Summer League standout earned a deal with the Mavericks after countless highlight plays.
Fit: D-League highlight film.
Question: Do the Mavs believe in him or was he brought in to fill the stands? Griffin can fly and he showed it during the Summer League. Was he brought in to show off his athleticism in the D-League or do the Mavs believe he can become a viable NBA small forward?
Bully power forward's Summer League didn't scare off Mavs.
Fit: The Mavs are apparently high on Johnson and could see him as an emergency/insurance big. After all, Carlisle was trying to expand his range to the three-point line.
Question: Can he make up for his poor summer league? Coming into Vegas, the though of Johnson being a Maverick by opening night was likely. Poor shooting plus poor play didn't help his case. The Mavs only have four true bigs on the roster, so can he play well enough to earn the final roster spot?