Mavericks training camp has kicked off this week and Rick Carlisle and various players have already addressed the media. We gathered to discussed some of the general questions surrounding the team heading into the 2020-2021 season.
When fully healthy, what do you expect the Mavericks most effective closing lineup to be?
Reese Konkle (@RKonkle_Mavs): I like what I believe to be the projected starting group, Luka-THJ-Josh Richardson-Dorian-KP. Does it leave a little to be desired as far as size on the interior goes? Maybe, maybe not. But it is the best combination of shooting, playmaking, and defense I think Dallas can put out there. And among other things, it’s just their best five players. That’s always a good strategy in high-leverage moments.
Michael Mulford (@TheMulf): I agree with Reese. In my mind, it’s hand down Luka-THJ-Rich-DFS-KP. The versatility this lineup brings defensively as well as filling the perimeter with shooters and playmaking makes for Dallas’ most effective lineup. The lack of size may come into question on the defensive end but when it comes to crunch time, you play your five best players.
Dylan Duell (@DylanDuell): I’ll make it 3/3 and agree with them on the same lineup. Ultimately you just need Hardaway Jr., Finney-Smith and Richardson to make open shots and hold up their end of the bargain on the defensive end. Their size may not be traditionally “big” for whoever fills the PF spot, but I think that’s pretty irrelevant at that stage of the game. Not many 4’s around the league will be posting up on the block down the stretch of a close game. Luka and Porzingis simply need to be better in the final few minutes of games this season. Luka needs to make better use of his other star player and Porzingis needs to be more active to put himself in good positions to score.
What is one of the players towards the end of the roster that you think could eventually spring themselves into a very consistent and important role on the team?
Reese: I’ve said it since the signing was announced that Wes Iwundu was intriguing. A lot of fans wanted a sexier name, especially with the full MLE to work with, but Iwundu fills a big need. He’s got legit size on the wing and 7’1 wingspan that he uses to bother opposing players. Couple that with sound defensive instincts and great motor and you’ve got a legit plus defender. Offensively, he’s still developing. But he is young and has shown real signs of improvement, namely as a shooter and decision maker. Having legit hopes for him might sound like some real homerism, but the kid has some tools I think the Mavericks can help emphasize.
Mulf: Not sure where you’d place him among the roster totem pole but I think Tyrell Terry is going to have a shot to carve himself out a nice role for Dallas. With the loss of Seth Curry, Terry can help fill the void left from Curry’s shooting. If Terry can knock down shots as well as help create, he’ll find his number called often.
Dylan: I think there will be flashes and moments for virtually everyone on the roster due to traditional injuries and the unfortunate COVID cloud hanging over the world. I don’t think any of the rookies will play major minutes right away thanks to the lack of traditional offseason/training camp that would allow them to accommodate, but if one were to find a role within the first few months would be Tyrell Terry. Maybe we’ll see a new version of the Carlisle three-guard lineup but with Terry/Burke/Brunson? Very undersized, but that hasn’t stopped Carlisle before.
Is there really a chance the team signed JJ Barea to a guaranteed deal only to cut him after training camp three weeks later? If not, who’s not making the final 15?
Reese: I legitimately have no clue what’s going on with the Barea situation. There must be something the teams knows that we don’t, but I can’t imagine they’d re-sign him just to cut him. They have too much respect for him to do that. However they’re in the business of winning basketball games, and right now, there are 15 other guys more equipped to help them do that. Sacrificing one of them to appease JJ would also be a bad move, especially for the looming Covid-19 season. I ultimately don’t know what the plan is here, but I hope they find a way to do right by everyone involved.
Mulf: It’s a tricky situation. On one hand, you have a very important part to this team when it comes to veteran leadership and team chemistry. On the other, you have a 36-year-old guard who plays sparingly. You’d like to think that JJ would make the roster but who’s the casualty if that’s the case? You can bet your bottom dollar that Carlisle will fight to find a spot for JJ on the roster but at what cost? We shall see.
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