Although a couple key names -- Dirk Nowitzki and everyone's favorite backup big man Dwight Powell -- remain the same, this summer lead to another drastic departure by many of the key names that made up last year's Mavericks roster.
This has become commonplace for Dallas, who rapidly builds and rebuilds new rosters over the past years. Some of our favorites are several years removed from the Mavericks' roster now and offering his teammates the most outrageous celebratory face-slaps.
Never forget that this is what winning feels like. pic.twitter.com/wzxp7cxujM— Grizzly Bear Blues (@sbnGrizzlies) December 7, 2015
Love you Vince, but I can't imagine what Courtney Lee did to deserve that. Today, though, we're just going to focus on five names that were on last year's roster.
Let's start with the man many of us never wanted to see leave Dallas (either the first or the second time). While Dallas was wasting its time partying with DeAndre Jordan, Tyson Chandler quickly signed a four-year, $52 million contract with the Phoenix Suns. At the time, it really felt like Tyson could be the missing piece that vaulted the Suns into the thick of the West playoff hunt and even a move that made them contenders for LaMarcus Aldridge, while everyone left Dallas for dead without DeAndre Jordan. But that's not quite how it has worked out.
While most of us were tremendously sad to see Tyson gone (again) after only one season (AGAIN), his season thus far with the Suns has been pretty lackluster. He's shooting only 46 percent, averaging five points and about nine rebounds a game, and playing his fewest minutes per game since the 2009-10 season. Compare with Zaza Pachulia, still averaging a double-double, and maybe the loss of Tyson this offseason doesn't hurt quite so much. And here we find Dallas as the No. 5 seed, while Tyson's Suns have a losing record (9-13) and are No. 11.
This isn't to say that Tyson has been a bust in the desert. Apparently he's doing wonders for Phoenix's three-point shooting, and his abilities as a defensive anchor are still intact. But he hasn't quite been the perfect fit that he was in his two magical seasons in Dallas. Unfortunately, his injury woes have also returned outside of Dallas, and he's already missed a number of games the past couple of weeks due to a hamstring injury.
But the man is still the greatest center in the history of the Mavericks, despite the painful breakups. Phoenix got themselves a good guy, a better teammate and maybe the only person on this list I absolutely wish was still in a Mavs uniform.
Oh Monta. He was arguably the best sidekick Dirk has had in the post-championship years, and yet it sure feels like few of us were just terribly upset to see him go this offseason.
When he signed with the Pacers, I kinda figured he would regress quite a bit outside of Rick Carlisle's free-wheeling offensive system and without Dirk to create spacing for him. To Monta's credit, he is still fairly productive in Indiana, but his scoring average has fallen from 19 to just 11.6 points per game. He's not the Robin (or let's be honest, co-Batman) that he was in Dallas. His true shooting percentage is under 50 percent, his usage is way down and both his field goal percentage and 3-point percentage have fallen from his Dallas days. On top of that, he's also been fairly inconsistent this season, with seven single-digit scoring games and shooting under 30 percent five times this season.
On the other hand, his team is winning. The Pacers are the No. 2 seed in the East and near the top of most people's power rankings right now. While Monta hasn't been a huge factor in that offensively, he also hasn't been quite the liability on defense that we remember him being. He still gambles a bit more than he should, but seems to have found his stride in Indiana's team defense. Teams have an offensive rating five points less with Ellis on the floor than when he's off of it.
He may not have it all and Indiana certainly is hoping his efficiency will rebound somewhat, but overall, the Pacers isn't the worst place for Ellis to have ended up.
Much ado has been made about the resurgence of Dallas fans' least favorite point guard. After very publicly flaming out in his short tenure with the Mavs, Rondo managed to find a suitor this offseason in arguably the most dysfunctional team in the NBA, the Sacramento Kings. And in many senses, it has worked out for him. Rondo is back to being a triple-double threat every night, averaging nearly 12 points, 11 assists, and seven rebounds a game.
His efficiency is actually surprisingly good. He still can't make free throws, but his field goal percentage is a bit higher than in Dallas and he's making 37 percent of his 3-pointers on nearly twice as many attempts than in Dallas. That actually might be the craziest part.
So Rondo's back, right? Well ... mostly. He's also playing six more minutes a game, so some of his assist and rebound numbers are only statistically higher because of how much he's playing. Plus, the Kings are only 7-15, worse than most of their facts were counting on. Just a few days ago, Rondo was ejected from a game for staring down a ref after a technical foul call. He then proceeded to chase down the ref and (allegedly) fling some decidedly harsh language his way.
Dallas is happy to see him go, but something about Sacramento is working for Rondo, even if it's not working for the Kings overall. Plus, at least we get to see more things like this happen.
As a former Rondo fan, that's really all you can ask for at this point.
The main piece in last year's Dwight Powell trade, Jae Crowder seems to have really found his home with the Boston Celtics. After establishing himself in the Celtics rotation last season, Crowder was re-signed for a big five-year, $35 million deal. Which seems kind of crazy until you realize that in the modern NBA, there is developing a huge demand for good defenders who don't do any single thing great but a lot of things solidly.
For a player whose role in the rotation was questioned at times, Crowder is doing really well for himself. His numbers this season are well-rounded: 12 points, 4.4 rebounds, two assists and two steals a game. After a slow shooting start, Crowder's 3-point percentage is up over 35 percent now with a more-than-respectable 44 percent field goal percentage. Plus, Boston's right in the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Crowder's become somewhat of a folk hero in Boston. For as much crap as I might have given him as a basketball player, I always liked Jae, so it's great to see him flourishing.
Finally, we've got RJ, who nearly came back this season but reversed course when DeAndre Jordan pulled out and an opportunity with Cleveland arose. Jefferson is the second aging Mavs small forward in as many years to sign a deal with the Cavs in order to try to (smartly) ride LeBron's coattails to a ring, after Shawn Marion gave it a shot last year.
Unlike Marion, Jefferson actually plays a lot, averaging 23 minutes while providing some of that good old-fashioned quality veteran leadership. So far, he's contributing more intangibles than tangibles, though. His 3-point percentage in particular is way down from last season, dropping by a staggering 11 points to 31.7 percent. He's at least finishing at the rim still.
It seems as though RJ is pretty happy in Cleveland and he likely has the best chance at winning a title this year of any other departed Maverick, so I'd say he's the winner of this exercise.