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Mavs Mailbag: Making the ultimate Mavericks lineup under 6’4

In our first Mavs Mailbag of the offseason, we dive in to the best Mavericks lineups, what to expect from Dirk, and missing Clint Capela

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

We’re deep in the heart of the offseason, and at the beginning of the week we posted to the Mavs Moneyball twitter account, asking for your deep burning questions. We’ll hit this every couple weeks, so get your questions ready.

Now on to our Mavs Mailbag:

@derryanderrough: What is your prediction for DeAndre Jordan’s numbers this season (PTS-REB-BLK)?

DJ’s best season was probably back in 2015-16, when he averaged 13 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks per game. And his production as a scorer and rebounder has stayed fairly consistent since. What has tailed off dramatically in the last season-plus is his block rate.

The gold standard for center production in Dallas is 2010-11 Tyson Chandler. And while, yes, TC was a massive reason the Mavs raised a banner that year, you might be surprised to find that Chandler averaged 10 points, nine rebounds, and one block per game.

There are a few things we know for certain: the Mavs desperately need a rebounder and shot blocker, and Rick Carlisle knows how to leverage elite rim running. I still have questions about DJ’s decreased block rate, but I think it’s safe to predict 12 points, 12 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. If he exceeds in any area it’s most likely in rebounding, where he could surpass his single season career high of 15 boards per game.

@tylerrgeezy: Where do y’all see Dirk ending up on the all time points list by the time he retires?

We’ve been saying this every summer for the last several, but this really could be Dirk’s final run, sad to say. Outside of trying to make a competitive run for his final 82, watching his move up the all-time scoring list should be fun.

Health and minutes will be what determines his movement, because we know his shot will still be there. Dirk currently sits 236 points behind Wilt Chamberlain. He averaged 12 points per game in 25 minutes, over 77 games last season (77 in his 20th season is insane). I’d expect him to play around 20 minutes per game in 2018, and to play somewhere around 70 to 75 games (if healthy). If he can match last season, he’ll probably pass Wilt by game 20. To catch Michael Jordan, he’d probably need to play 92 more games. Added to this, breathing down his neck is LeBron James, only 145 points behind.

The next closest active player is Carmelo Anthony, who would probably need five more highly productive seasons to catch them. So by the time Dirk calls it quits, he’ll be sixth. Somewhere down the line Kevin Durant or James Harden will contend for that spot. But holding down the six spot for a while is more than impressive for the Tall Baller from the G.

@callme_Jason: Honest question: what is our best/most productive line up? (not necessarily starting line up) I like the sound of DSJ, Wes, Doncic, HB, & DJ.

Throw away question: how much of a stretch is it to hope Ray Spalding turns into a DeAndre Jordan with a shot? Idk, I see something there.

Fine, I’ll call you Jason. We all know the Mavericks’ best lineup last season consisted of J.J. Barea, Yogi Ferrell, Devin Harris, Dwight Powell and Dirk Nowitzki. And guess what, they’re (almost) baaaa-aaaack (Yogi, we hardly knew ye). Obviously, the addition of Luka Doncic and DeAndre Jordan changes things.

The lineup you suggest will probably be the starters. Carlisle always likes to tinker so I don’t think it’s set in stone — but I do think this group will be used most. I think it’s the lineup with the highest ceiling, of all the combos on that roster. To tack on to that, with Yogi’s exit, I’m intrigued with what that bench mob plus Doncic could do. I’m not sure how well Doncic and Barea can play together, but that could be a fun group for short stretches.

As for Spalding, @callme_Jason, I’m beginning to think you might be a Dalton Trigg burner account. It sounds like you, Dalton and a few others are high on Spalding. I think he has some intriguing tools. But he’s a long way off, and will spend a lot of time with the Legends, if I had to guess now.

@em0n3y: Any regret on not making an offer to Capela?

I hit on this topic over the weekend, touching on why MFFLs everywhere should be relieved that Capela re-signed with the Rockets. It’s a pessimistic take, I’ll grant you. But I think whether the Mavericks gave him an offer sheet this summer, or went after him next summer, the result would have been the same in Dallas: No Clint Capela, No DeAndre Jordan.

Houston had no choice but to match anything Capela signed, so targeting him this summer wouldn’t have been useful. Plus DJ would have moved on. And next summer would have ended similarly. Capela is crazy talented and I’d love him in Dallas. But things worked out fine.

@DanielP27121040: Who’s going to be running the point? DSJ or Doncic?

Dennis Smith Jr. is the point guard. Doncic will get plenty opportunity to run the point; but for label purposes it’s DSJ. Either way, Carlisle’s system works best with two ballhandler/playmakers on the floor, attacking the defense at two angles. I like to think of Doncic’s role as something similar to Chandler Parsons. He will run plenty of pick and rolls, distributing to shooters around the perimeter, and to the rim runner — penetrating from the wing. And because they both play different styles, I expect DSJ and Doncic to compliment each other well and find a potent chemistry .

@pdx_mavs: Do you prefer Dirk or Wes coming off the bench?

To move Dirk to the bench feels monumental, even in his 21st season. And that’s a testament to who he still is as a player. But I think Wesley Matthews has to be the starter. There will be valid questions about getting Dirk’s legs going after the tip (but I think they’ll have some savvy ways to keep him warm).

Matthews will provide the perimeter defense they’ll need to start games, and I don’t think he works as well with that bench mob we talked about above. Conversely, we know Dirk works perfect with them. And here’s something everyone should be monitoring throughout the season: how much can Dirk and DeAndre Jordan play next to each other? Defensively, that may be a problem.

**BONUS best question of the week:

@SportingDFW: How many championships would the Mavs have if the NBA didn’t allow players over 6’4” to play?

In an Under 6’4 league you’re giving up the franchise’s all-time best player, so there’s that. But over the last 20 years Steve Nash, Nick Van Exel, Jason Terry, Devin Harris, J.J. Barea, Jason Kidd, Rodrigue Beaubois, Darren Collison, Monta Ellis, Jose Calderon, Jameer Nelson, Raymond Felton, Deron Williams, Yogi Ferrell, Seth Curry and Dennis Smith Jr. all spent various amounts of time in Dallas. The Mavs have always had an affinity for small guards, and recently it seems like they’ve really cornered the market.

It would take too much research to see what they’d be up against any given season from other organizations. But try to tell me that Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, J.J. Barea and Roddy B aren’t going back to back in 2009-10 & 2010-11. And you didn’t ask this @SportingDFW, but if I had to make a starting five from all the guys above, give me Nash, DSJ, Terry, Kidd and DWill. Maybe that debate is for another day.