With the Mavericks’ offseason more or less officially coming to a close, we continue breaking down the various aspects of what happened with the team this year.
Today, our staff answered this question: Besides Dirk, which player on this roster is the most irreplaceable or has the most pressure to perform? Here’s what we came up with.
Doyle: The Mavs have shown over the years that everyone is replaceable. That's just how they roll. However, the pressure will certainly be on Harrison Barnes. He's the Mavs' $94 million man. The team is expecting a larger role from Barnes in Dallas than he had in Golden State. It's just not known if he's capable of being "the guy" behind Dirk. Many of our colleagues here at Moneyball, myself included, are very skeptical of Barnes. I know the market made him a max player but that contract will continue to be brought up if he under performs offensively.
Ian: The most irreplaceable is Deron, for the reasons I outlined in a previous roundtable question, but the player with the most pressure to perform outside of Dirk is probably Harrison Barnes. I wouldn't go so far as to say that enormous pressure is coming from inside the organization, since I think Dallas has an established pecking order and Barnes isn't going to uproot that, but I would be surprised if Barnes wasn't putting pressure on himself. As a former top 10 pick, he's avoided any negative labels like "bust" or "disappointment" in Golden State because of all the talent around him and the success of the team as a whole. Now that he's been taken out of that situation, and rewarded handsomely, the excuses for lack of production are drying up. There will surely be a few fans and media members who will look at him as the $95 million man and expect certain things, as well.
Kirk: Harrison Barnes and it's no question. This season he'll be making the second most of any Maverick in Dallas history (Dirk made about $600,000 more in 2013-14). It's not fair, but fans will look at his salary and wonder what's going on if he's not producing. Even if we look at it from percentage of the cap (23%), Barnes is the guy nearly making 1/4th of the team's salary and he'll be expected to perform as such. By mid season, he'll need to be performing in a big way or the locals will be calling for his head.
J.C.: Rick Carlisle! Well, if I have to choose a player, I think it's Justin Anderson. He is the future of this team. If he develops like Kawhi Leonard or Jimmy Butler, the future is bright. If he stalls out, this team is going to have to find another piece somehow. A second year leap from Anderson is the difference between the 3/4 seed or the 6/7 seed.
Josh: It's Barnes and it's not even close. He'll probably get some more slack from the general Mavs fan base because of his low-key profile compared to Parsons, but he was the weight of a $94-million max deal sitting on his shoulders. For a dude that looked more shook than me when shooing a cockroach outside during the NBA Finals, that's a crazy amount of pressure.
Tim: It's Deron Williams. If there has ever been a team that needs a steady hand leading the offense, it's this one. We talked yesterday about the lack of playmaking, but I also talked about some ways the team could fix that. A lot of those solutions -- getting Dirk more post touches, running more set plays that use Harrison Barnes -- need a quality passer who can make sure those things happen. There's no other guards on the Mavericks' roster who can really provide that like Williams can when he's playing his best.
There's only so much Williams will be able to do in the pick-and-roll at this point, and we all should know that. But as a complete, veteran point guard who just knows how to play the game smartly, Williams is irreplaceable on this roster. That's problematic, of course, given that he's injury prone and will almost surely miss a dozen games. But that's the roster Dallas has, so let's hope the medical staff can pull off another miracle.