The Mavericks preseason tour made a stop in Tulsa, Oklahoma to take on the Oklahoma City Thunder in a riveting 48 minutes of basketball. Without Chandler Parsons, Dirk Nowitzki, Wesley Matthews or Deron Williams, the Mavs battled against a fully staffed Thunder squad with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, but fell 100-88. John Jenkins led all scorers with 26 points; preseason is wonderful.
The game was broadcasted locally in a conversational style with the usual broadcasting crew of Mark Followill, Derek Harper and Skin Wade sitting in a studio basically shooting a live podcast while they broadcasted the game. It was a nice change of pace, which was effective because of the crew didn't have to address every single aspect of a blasé preseason game. They had guests hop onto the show throughout the game and give commentary on the Mavs upcoming season. Anyways, here's what we learned from the actual preseason game.
Carlisle uses first half to create chemistry
Rick Carlisle devoted the first half to building chemistry between the healthy rotation players in uniform. Devin Harris, JJ Barea, Jeremy Evans and Zaza Pachulia shared the court for the majority of the half with John Jenkins and Justin Anderson getting a splash. Harris looks to be in mid-season form. His decision making in the pick and roll has always been an underrated aspect of his game, but throughout the preseason and particularly in this game, his steady hand shined through. Harris flashed the athleticism that made him such a lethal attacking guard in his first stint with the Mavericks. If he can maintain his consistency from beyond the arc, he could raise some eyebrows this season, especially Deron Williams' precarious health.
Zaza Pachulia played well as a screener for both Barea and Harris to dart around. He's not the vacuum pick and roll guy that Tyson Chandler is, but Pachulia created space by knocking down a couple jumpers after fading away from a screen. He showed a good feel for where to position himself when other players attacked the basket. His positioning resulted in a few offensive rebounds and Pachulia had the touch to make a couple tough putbacks. He played exactly to his expectation level against the Thunder.
The rookie shows some flashes
In his first two preseason games, Justin Anderson struggled to knock down shots and looked lost navigating the court with the ball in his hands. Against Oklahoma City, Anderson settled down a bit after banking in a three-pointer. He still struggled when he had to decide when and where he needed to pull up for a jumper or a floater, but Carlisle trusted Anderson to run some point guard in the fourth quarter. He made a couple nice hook passes to the corner while running pick and roll, but this won't be a thing in the regular season. Anderson competed hard on the defensive end where he guarded both Durant and Westbrook. Anderson made both of them work for their jumpers with his length and neither superstar could bully Anderson in the post. Anderson also did this:
John Jenkins will be on this roster
John Jenkins was far and away the best Maverick on the court. It's a wholly bizarre sentence to type, but it's true. He threw up 26 points on an efficient 11-18 shooting in 29 minutes. Jenkins showcased why he was taken in the first round by launching jumpers from all over the court. When the Mavericks picked up Jenkins in the offseason he was thought to be a spot up shooter who could occasionally attack close outs. However throughout the preseason, Jenkins has shown lead ball handler skills that makes him more intriguing than any other Maverick guard under the age of 25 in quite some time. Jenkins basically did his best Steph Curry impression for most of the evening and nearly led this Mavericks b-squad to a win over a Thunder team who played their rotation guys for the majority of the game. He should be a nice toy in Carlisle's treasure chest this season.
Hey Chandler, what are your feelings on preseason basketball?