Rohan Bhatt / Contributing Writer (@Rohbhatt)
NBA basketball is finally back -- sort of. Despite sitting the same seven players who didn't suit up in the preseason opener, including four starters, the Mavericks traveled to Houston for a second exhibition matchup in some fake, fake basketball. While there were some highlights, with it came the realization that the bench unit still has a lot of room to grow before becoming a viable second unit for an NBA wannabe second team.
In Wednesday's matchup, James Harden played 20 minutes and led the Rockets to a 109-82 win over the Mavericks' bench. The Mavericks' best player was John Jenkins, who dropped 19 points and nabbed five rebounds, showing more signs that he's primed for a role on the bench.
1. Shots not fired
Dallas' offense was borderline atrocious with the amount of isolations and offensive breakdowns throughout the game. Dalembert specifically had more than his share of turnovers, with several shot clock violations, three-second violations and just bad plays. John Jenkins, who might even be an opening day starter if Wes Matthews isn't ready to go, had his own cringeworthy set where he tried to create space from Marcus Thornton and pivoted 10 times as the shot clock wound down to zero.
Regardless, these aren't even written sets, but the lack of weapons or even a strong inside presence has been apparent for these first two games. Hopefully Dwight Powell is able to play soon, because the reserves are missing his presence dearly.
2. Veteran leadership
Charlie Villanueva, JJ Barea, Devin Harris, Raymond Felton and Samuel "Pizza Hands" Dalembert were all feeling confident from midrange. JJ actually hit a shot over Marcus Thornton right before halftime while falling away.
Spacing is the reason of this surprising effectiveness for veterans despite the relatively inefficiency of the mid-range. A prime example is Charlie V getting inside and getting good shots because of Jenkins, Anderson, and Felton all spacing the ball up top. Villanueva's inside touch was actually surprising, because he was able to run quickly enough once he got a switch to take advantage of the mismatch.
Jeremy Evans and Devin Harris hooked up for an alley oop midway through the game, which makes sense, given their chemistry has been brought up since their times together as Utah teammates.
3. Rookie report
How much longer will we have to Ndour this? Justin Anderson had a bad offensive game, decent defensive play, but ultimately struggled with creating his own shot. It's not alarming though, because he's not playing with a bona fide playmaker or someone that is skilled at creating offense, so he has to focus more on that (although its definitely not his specialty).
Maurice Ndour seems to have lost a step in the transition from Summer League to Preseason. He looks slow, is basically just shooting contested threes and isn't rebounding well. He's struggling with box outs and multiple times lost defensive rebounds to smaller opponents. He isn't aware on defense, although he kept up with smaller guys well. He should try going back to midrange, where he's usually efficient and finds many more open looks.
John Jenkins had a good first quarter, and shot well in general (as he did yesterday), but he was significantly less efficient (probably thanks to the matchups he had tonight).