The Dallas Mavericks weren’t a team that I was particularly high on coming into the 2013-14 NBA season. After missing out on Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum, it seemed like the Mavs were a team that was haphazardly thrown together with solid pieces, but that didn’t look promising together on paper.
What I underestimated about this Mavericks team was the ability of head coach Rick Carlisle to maximize the effort of his players and to keep his team disciplined. He’s turned Monta Ellis into a much more efficient and valuable offensive player, has kept Dirk Nowitzki playing at a high level and has Jose Calderon looking great—especially as of late.
However, one thing Carlisle hasn’t been able to get going consistently this season is the offense of Vince Carter off of the bench. On Thursday night in a loss to the San Antonio Spurs, Carter finished with 20 points, but was aided by 11 trips to the foul line. Otherwise he shot just 4-12 from the floor and just 1-4 from three.
As the Mavs came close to making the postseason despite Dirk’s absence for a good chunk of last season, Carter was a vital piece for them off of the bench. He stayed healthy for the full season and averaged 13.4 points per game on 43.5 percent shooting from the floor and 40.6 percent three-point shooting.
However, Carter has been struggling with his efficiency and effectiveness as a reserve this season. Though he’s averaging 11 points per game, he’s shooting only 39.8 percent from the field and converting just 34.5 percent of his attempts from long-range.
Though Carlisle has this team at 16-12 right now, this team has the potential to be much better with the way several key players have been performing. However, a lot of that potential is dependent upon Carter playing at the level that he did last season, which hasn’t happened. The fact that Carter will turn 37 years old a month from now certainly doesn’t provoke any optimism, but the Mavs need him to improve if they are going to reach the pinnacles that they have the chance to.