The goal was to sign a star to help Dirk Nowitzki in his twilight seasons. 2011 was the hope of Deron Williams returning to his hometown of Dallas, only to watch him return to Brooklyn. This offseason, it was a sit-down with Dwight Howard, hoping to lean the six-foot eleven behemoth towards joining the Mavericks. However, Howard had different plans, and opted for Houston with star guard James Harden. Instead of opting for another season of uncertainty, the Mavericks opted for clarity. Instead of rolling back for the 2014 offseason, a year with LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Carmelo Anthony as headliners, the Mavericks made the 2013 offseason count, filling out the roster with multi-year contracts.
Returning from Dallas’ 2012 team are Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Benard James, Jae Crowder, and Brandan Wright. That’s it. The Mavericks made sure to attack both sides of the ball in free agency. Both Samuel Dalembert and Devin Harris provide some defensive help. Dalembert as more of a overall defender (his on/off numbers from last season aren’t ideal, but remember, Dalembert backed up Larry Sanders, who was a terrific defender), and Harris offers the Mavericks an excellent team defender. For the Hawks, Devin Harris had a plus/minus of nine, and was excellent playing off the ball with Josh Smith and Al Horford. While he won’t have neither player, Harris can still replicate his defensive intensity for a team that needs it.
The other players Dallas acquired will fill in certain roles. Monta Ellis could be an offensive weapon off the bench at either guard position (21.1 PER last season at the point guard position, however.), and Gal Mekel could receive the third point guard minutes. Wayne Ellington will thrive as someone who can shoot the three and stretch the floor at times (39% three-point shooter last season), and DeJuan Blair will be an excellent towel-waver, as well as a big man who can come in during garbage time (13.9 points and 9.7 rebounds per 36 last season). Rookies Shane Larkin and Ricky Ledo, at first glance, seem to be victims of the numbers game, and will probably be optioned to the NBADL. The most important addition to the roster, however, will be the signing of Jose Calderon to man the point guard position.
Last season, the Mavericks went through the motions with terrible point guards. From Derek Fisher, to Mike James, to Darren Collison, the Mavericks struggled to find a consistent starter to man the position. Not anymore; Jose Calderon’s arrival to Dallas gives head coach Rick Carlisle someone who can run the offense efficiently. Last season, Jose Calderon shot 49% from the field, 46% from three, and 90% from the free-throw line. As a result, his True Shooting Percentage and Effective Field Goal percentage, 65% and 63% respectively, were stellar for a point guard. He’s great at getting his teammates involved, averaging 7.1 assists per game last season, and assisted on nearly 40% of the field goals made when he was on the floor last season. His turnover rate was an absurdly low 9.0 turnover rate. Calderon simply makes his teammates’ job easier, thanks to his overall efficient play.
While his defensive shortcomings will come into play, Calderon’s arrival will answer questions about a position that most Mavericks fans had issues with last season. If Calderon can replicate his 2012 season, the Mavericks will have a solid point guard to run an offense that isn’t short on offensive talent. Making Vince Carter’s job easier are Dirk Nowtizki, Monta Ellis, Brandan Wright. These guys can score the basketball. Two of the four (Wright and Dirk) had solid seasons last year offensively, and the other two have shown the ability to play solid, efficient basketball when opposite of a respectable point guard. With Calderon manning the offense, the Mavericks will have a chance to make the playoffs, and that’s all head coach Rick Carlisle can ask for.