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The Mavericks need Harrison Barnes to excel to keep pace at small forward

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The Mavs go all-in on Harrison Barnes as he looks to make the leap.

NBA: Preseason-Houston Rockets at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to part three of five as we rank the Mavericks by position against the rest of the league. Today, we will go over small forward.

Click here for the intro for our positional rankings along with PG rankings.

Click here for our SG rankings.

At small forward, Dallas is ranked #11 with 9 wins.

PREDICTABILITY (1 Dirk- not reliable, 3- somewhat reliable, 5- reliable)

In terms of predictability, this may be the hardest position to predict as Harrison Barnes takes over for Chandler Parsons. From a model perspective, there is more risk when a player is joining a new team since it can’t infer lineup chemistry and minutes as well. The model assumes he’ll do pretty decent, not great, but the potential for a wide range of performance exists as Barnes is stepping into a new team with the expectation to do some things he has not done in the NBA before. Likewise, Quincy Acy is in a new role with his move back home. Justin Anderson is an area for improvement and there are a potentially a couple bottom of the bench of guys who aren’t calculated into the model.

UPSIDE POTENTIAL (1 Dirk- low ceiling, 3- average ceiling, 5- high ceiling)

From a model perspective, there isn’t a ton of runway for growth for Barnes and Acy since the model since they’re still young enough to be improving but haven’t shown an upwards trajectory thus far. From a human expectations perspective, the Mavericks are expecting Harrison Barnes to be an above-average starter at a minimum, if not a solid third-banana fairly quickly. This means Barnes needs to improve just to meet our expectations, to expect even more may be getting greedy.

DOWNSIDE RISK (1 Dirk- low floor, 3- average floor, 5- high floor)

Barnes imploding is probably the biggest risk but his durability, pedigree and the general confidence shown from Dirk and Rick raise the floor. Also, as mentioned, youth is still on his side. It also may help the model isn’t watching his preseason games on League Pass [model has turned off TV and is outside taking a walk]. Also, while Anderson can start if Barnes gets injured or has to play a lot of power forward, the Mavericks are actually pretty thin here in terms of NBA experience.

OVERALL RATING (1 Dirk- weakness, 3- average, 5- strength)

This spot should be Harrison Barnes’ spot for years to come but this is year one in a new role with new teammates so expect some bumps — although Barnes’ versatility, durability, athleticism and work ethic should give him a solid floor. Acy and Anderson provide some leverage but have their own question marks. If this position becomes a strength, the Mavs will be ecstatic.

Come back tomorrow, when we rank Dirk and the Mavericks’ power forwards to the rest of the league.