The Dallas Mavericks have had a rough go of it this summer in NBA Free Agency in terms of not being able to land their primary targets, namely Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum and Greg Oden. Despite all of that, they still have assembled a talented group of players heading into the upcoming season.
In the wake of missing out on all of the guys they really wanted this summer, the Mavs were able to add Jose Calderon, Monta Ellis and Samuel Dalembert as three key free-agent signings to join Dirk Nowitzki in Dallas. None of those players may be game-changers, but under the tutelage of head coach Rick Carlisle, this is definitely an interesting squad.
There’s no denying the talent of this Mavs squad, particularly in their starting rotation. However, their bench is another story. After Calderon, Ellis, Shawn Marion, Dirk and Dalembert, the Mavs are somewhat of a question mark, especially at the small forward position behind Marion. In fact, second-year player Jae Crowder is the only other true small forward on the roster, meaning a lot will be asked of him this season.
In his rookie year, Crowder failed to live up to the little bit of hype that surrounded him out of college. In 78 games he averaged only five points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 0.8 steals in 17.3 minutes per game while shooting just 38.4 percent from the floor and 32.8 percent from three. He continued to underwhelm at the Las Vegas Summer League this year as well. In five games for Dallas he averaged 13.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.2 steals in 27 minutes per game, but once again posted inefficient 43.1 percent shooting from the floor.
Crowder will need to realize his potential this season, though. Not only are the Mavs shallow at the small forward, but they also are starting Marion, a 35-year-old veteran with a lot of miles on his legs, at the position. Crowder has the athleticism to be a better rebounder than he’s shown, to shoot better than he has, and to be an impact defender when given the opportunity. If Dallas wants to make some noise this season, though, they need Crowder to show a ton of improvement.