When the Mavs fell to the Thunder on Monday night, it officially ended their season and began their long summer vacation. It was an up and down year for Dallas; injuries to key players and the occasional big win that would give you hope for this team. It’s all over now and it’s time to grade each player on their performance this season.
This really was a group that overachieved based on the amount of “talent” on the roster. That said, most are going to receive positive grades because they really did better than most thought they would. A couple players might get in trouble with their parents for bringing home such a bad grade.
Justin Anderson: B+
No doubt about it, we are all so pumped about the way the 21st overall pick in the 2015 Draft ended his rookie campaign. The man they call “Simba” averaged 9 points per game during the five game playoff series with the Thunder. Anderson logged some major minutes down the stretch with coach Rick Carlisle pulling some strings in desperation to light a spark under the Mavs during a stretch this spring where they lost 10 of 12 games. The rookie was a major part of their late season turnaround to get back in the playoffs.
You’d have to think he has shown the entire organization and fan base that he is ready to be a major contributor going forward. The 26.4 minuter per game that Anderson averaged in April should be a better representation of the minutes he should get going forward than the little playing time he received the first several months of the season. The key to Anderson really making a name for himself in this league will be developing himself into a 40% three point shooter. He only shot 26% from beyond the arc this season.
J.J. Barea: A-
The streakin’ Puerto Rican proved to be absolutely vital to Dallas’ offensive success as the season wore on. He stepped in brilliantly when Deron Williams was unable to play and ran the offense like the veteran of Rick Carlisle’s system that he is.
We mentioned Justin Anderson being a key part of Dallas’ surge in April to sneak into the playoffs, Barea took that to another level. In 5 April games, Barea averaged over 17 points per game. For the season, the veteran guard averaged 10.9 points per game. In the 16 games he started, that went up to 16.7 per game. It’s more or less realized and accepted that J.J. can’t be your starting point guard and play 36 minutes per game, but the role he has been in for Dallas over the years fits him perfectly and should benefit both him and the Mavs for several years to come.
Jeremy Evans: Incomplete
Who else had forgotten Evans even played for the Mavs by the time March came around? I never saw anything about his season ending injury until way after the fact.
He did win the NBA’s inaugural talent competition during All-Star weekend with his painting skills, though. So there’s that…
Raymond Felton: B+
A mere throw-in as part of the Tyson Chandler trade two summers ago, Raymond Felton has been the ultimate professional in the Mavs organization. After only playing 9.7 minutes a night in 29 games during the 2014-2015 season, Felton’s patience was rewarded with a major role this season. Similar to Barea, Felton was often inserted into the starting lineup because of injuries. In 31 starts, Felton was able to average over 11 points per game.
An unrestricted free agent this offseason, Felton likely extended his NBA career with his performance this season. I think it’s unlikely the Mavs will be willing to give him a contract because of the guard depth they already have.
Devin Harris: C-
Pretty much every part of Devin Harris’ offensive game was below average this season. The fifth overall pick of the 2004 draft averaged only 7.6 points per game, his lowest since 5.7 his rookie year, and had poor shooting statistics for a guard. It’s hard to knock Harris’ performance on defense as he still has speed that can be helpful on that end of the floor.
Harris is under contract for two more seasons, but I really think the Mavs should move him this offseason. Dallas needs to improve their size in their backcourt, and Harris’ contract will likely be one of their best assets for any trade.
David Lee: B
Lee came to Dallas on February 22nd and was immediately given a major role in first big man off the bench for the Mavs. He had an outstanding month of March by averaging 10 points and 7 rebounds in less than 20 minutes per game. An incredibly efficient and active player, Lee seemed to really enjoy his time in Dallas.
Virtually a non-factor in the OKC series because of an injury he sustained in the season finale against San Antonio, I think Lee made it easy for the front office to move past their post-buyout acquisition like they did Amar’e Stoudemire one year ago.
Wesley Matthews: C
Listen, there’s no doubt Wesley Matthews had an insanely disappointing shooting performance first season with the Mavericks. I said so many bad words this season because of Matthews missing uncontested three’s that a NBA player needs to make. However, the guy was coming off a major injury and was playing massive minutes for a team that needed him on defense for virtually the entire game.
For every missed open three or moment of lacking the ability to create his own shot, Matthews made Mavs fans proud with his defense and vocal leadership.
I have no doubt that Wesley Matthews will be on a championship team in his career. In Dallas? Who knows. But a guy like that is someone that championship-level teams want in their locker room.
Javale McGee: Incomplete
JaVale was pretty good when he played… that just wasn’t often. Seemed like one of those situations where Rick Carlisle just decided he wasn’t going to play a guy.
Salah Mejri: C+
The 29 year-old rookie served as an above average rim-protector once he got a chance to play, but there are too many things against him to LOVE the guy.
His trash-talking and shenanigans on the court were a bit ridiculous as the season wore on. He needs to spend the entire summer bulking up his lower body to have any shot at being a 20+ minute per game player in the league.
….those blocks on countless big name players were pretty awesome, though…
Dirk Nowitzki: A
The Big German continued to amaze this year with countless vintage-Dirk moments. The ultimate example might be his 40 point game on March 20th vs the Blazers. He seemed to move well all season long and even had a great postseason series against the Thunder.
Nowitzki said he’ll for sure be back next season and Dallas will be incredibly lucky to have him.
His 45% shooting from the field was his lowest mark since shooting 40% his rookie year, but that was just the result of occasionally having a REALLY bad shooting night. Some nights, he just didn’t have it but he just kept shooting. Overall, I wouldn’t say Dirk has lost any shooting touch with age.
Zaza Pachulia: A-
Could you imagine what the Dallas center rotation would’ve been like if Zaza hadn’t been gifted to them by the Bucks in a trade last summer?
The acquisition of Pachulia would best be described as a panic move at the time after the DeAndre Jordan fallout, but it ended up being the best move Dallas made all summer.
Sure, Zaza’s second half of the season wasn’t nearly as strong as his first, but I think just as much of that has to do with the way Coach Carlisle used him. Pachulia never should have received less than twenty minutes of playing time in a game for a team that was so below average at rebounding. Pachulia averaged less than 18 minutes a game in March as Carlisle was desperately trying to find a different mix for front court minutes with other bigs like David Lee and Salah Mejri.
Zaza was a fan favorite, and deservedly-so. An unrestricted free agent this summer, the organization would be smart to hold on to a guy like Pachulia to be a 20 or 25 minutes per game big off the bench.
Chandler Parsons: B+
Considering the circumstances surrounding his injuries, I don’t think it’s crazy to call Parsons the Mavs best player already. He took monster steps forward this season once he really got comfortable on the court and in basketball shape.
For the seasons he shot close to 50% overall from the field and over 41% from beyond the arc. Truly great. Dallas has to look for a pick and roll option for him this summer (Dwight Howard?) for him to be able to put his playmaking skills in a position to bloom to their full potential.
Even though Parsons will likely opt out of the final year of his contract and become a free agent, I fully expect him to be back in Dallas. He knows that this organization wants him to be the one to take the baton from Dirk and lead the franchise to their next great era.
Dwight Powell: A-
The second year big out of Stanford was such a pleasant surprise in his first full season with the Mavs. He had a tremendous start to the season, averaging 9 points and 7 rebounds per game during the month of November, but fell out of the rotation slowly but surely as the season wore on.
Powell averaged 16.4 minutes before the All-Star break and only 8 after it: What’s up with that? The only problem I had with Dwight Powell when he was on the floor this season was that he fouled too much on defense. I think it’s fair to say a good chunk of that could be blamed on the lack of credibility he has with NBA officials this early in his career. The guy seemed to be called for EVERYTHING down low.
By his 25th birthday on July 20th, Powell will either have resigned with the Mavs or be with another team because Dallas refused to match their offer to him in his first foray into restricted free agency. Hopefully it’s the former, because Dallas has themselves a very talented big man in Powell.
Charlie Villanueva: D-
We all love Charlie V as a person and locker room presence, but come on… only on the team for his spot up shooting from deep and he shoots 27% from beyond the arc this season? Not gonna work.
Deron Williams: B+
D-Will’s season in Dallas was nothing more or nothing less than solid. I don’t think the Mavs really won or lost any games because of something Deron Williams did. Well, they definitely won ONE game because of something he did.
Williams was a very solid member of this team that had his occasional great game that reminded us of the former All-Star the Mavs chased back in the summer of 2012. While the days of that guy being there every night are gone, Williams is certainly capable of being a starter or sixth man for a contender.
He’ll opt out of his contract and become a free agent this summer, so it’ll be interesting to see if Dallas tries to resign him as a placeholder until they find a long-term answer at the point guard position.
This was the most frustrating group of Mavs players in a while, but also the most endearing. They seemed to have a great chemistry and it really appeared to be a big family this season. I really have no idea how this offseason will go for Dallas in terms of whether or not they’ll want some continuity or they’ll bring ten new players into training camp this fall like the last several seasons. Whatever happens, it’s time to formally say goodbye to this year’s edition of the Dallas Mavericks. Have a nice summer, boys.
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