The defending champs from Dallas had one of the worst title defenses of the last few decades, being swept in the first round by the Zombie Sonics. Much of this talk has been avoided due to the fact that it has become widely known that Cuban wants to make a run at either D12 or Deron Williams (the latter looking a lot more likely). In looking at the salary situations, aggregate statistics and a few +/- observations, we can get a pretty good feel for what works within the Mavericks organization, and what lies ahead in the future.
Here is a link detailing the Mavericks salary situation. While it says the Mavs are on the hook for around $54.5 million next year, this includes the non-guaranteed contracts of Lamar Odom and Vince Carter. Odom's deal has only $2.4 million guaranteed, and the Mavericks are already looking for trade partners instead of having to eat that $2.4 million by waiving him. Carter's contract is partially guaranteed as well. Assuming that someone trades for Odom (Knicks?) and the Mavericks keep Carter, then there cap situation will be around $46 million. Now, this is still not enough to offer a max contract if the cap is around $58 million like it was this year. The next big chip to fall would have to be Shawn Marion; the Mavericks have been linked to several rumors of trying to dump Marion in order to create enough cap space. In trading Marion to a team like Indiana (or even Minnesota) who is able to absorb the majority of the contract, then the Mavericks would be able to offer Deron Williams a max contract.
Here are the WS/48 and WP/48 for each player (excluding Williams and Azubuike). I bolded the ones I found interesting, and negatives are in italics:
Dirk Nowitzki: 0.175 WS/48; 0.066 WP/48
Jason Terry: 0.092 WS/48; 0.99 WP/48
Shawn Marion: 0.092 WS/48; 0.182 WP/48
Vince Carter: 0.09 WS/48; 0.098 WP/48
Jason Kidd: 0.104 WS/48; 0.207 WP/48
Roddy Beaubois: 0.092 WS/48: 0.078 WP/48
Brendan Haywood: 0.114 WS/48; 0.141 WP/48
Ian Mihinmi: 0.144 WS/48; 0.102 WP/48
Lamar Odom: 0.014 WS/48; -0.08 WP/48
Delonte West: 0.098 WS/48; 0.134 WP/48
Brandan Wright: 0.215 WS/48; 0.285 WP/48
Brian Cardinal: 0.004 WS/48; -0.123 WP/48
Dom Jones: 0.043 WS/48; 0.079 WP/48
Yi Jianlian: -0.003 WS/48; -0.091 WP/48
So in looking at these three metrics, a few observations can be made:
-There are a few players who perform vastly different in comparing PA100 with the other 2 metrics. While PA100 has Kidd and Brandon Wright as net negatives, WP/48 look at them very strongly, with Kidd earning a 0.207 and Wright a 0.285. WAS/48 as has Wright at a 0.215 (insanely high) and Kidd at a .104, which is still above average. I don't know the differences between the different metrics well enough to determine why this is (maybe someone can help me out) but it seemed worth mentioning.
-Delonte West looks to be a great signing. PA100 grades out West well (a bit too well defensively possibly?) and WP/48 looks on him favorably as well. West was a great 3rd guard for the Mavs off the bench, and he could be a great addition for any team looking for reliable production off the bench at the wing position (ahem, Timberwolves).
-Shawn Marion? WP/48 grades Marion as well above average, but both PA100 and WS/48 show him as a below average wing player. The difference in the metrics is interesting.
-Wright/Carter. Brandon Wright was the Mavericks best big man based on WS/48 and WP/48 (0.215 and 0.285 respectively) but PA100 had him as a net negative. Not sure who to side with on this one, but the PA100 might be more accurate given Wright's known horrible defensive reputation. Carter grades out decently on PA/100, but not on the other two metrics. Not sure for this as well.
These metrics show the production for the Mavericks players, but they don't seem to agree on who played well (not even Dirk). Because of this, I will take a look at some of the NBA.com adjusted plus-minus statistics to look at what units played well together.
Best 3 man units:
1. Kidd-Carter-Nowitzki: +141
2. Carter-Nowitzki-Haywood +122
3. Carter-Nowitzki-Terry +110
It's interesting that Carter and Nowitzki were in all three of the top 3 player combinations for the Mavericks this season. This seems to agree with PA100 in that Carter and Nowitzki were net positives for the Mavs. It is no surprise then that Dirk and Carter were the best 2-man combination as well (+242).
Best 5 man units:
Since basketball is a five on five sport, looking at what 5 man units performed the best should be included as well:
1. Kidd-Carter-Nowitzki-Marion-Haywood +67
2. Carter-Nowitzki-Marion-Haywood-West +61
3. Kidd-Carter-Nowitzki-Terry-Wright +44
Carter and Dirk are on all 3 units for this as well, adding to the above conclusion that they were arguably the 2 best net positives from this season. It's also interesting that West and Wright show up on this as well, but it should be noted that this is probably due to playing with Nowitzki and Carter because they didn't show up at all near the top in 2 man or 3 man combinations.
In looking at the aggregate statistics and player combinations, I think I can somewhat accurately conclude what worked and didn't work for the Mavs this year.
Best: Dirk and Vince: It is surprising that two aging superstars were the best players for the Mavs this season, but when they were on the floor together, good things happened.
Worst: Lamar Odom. What a disaster. Best case for the Mavs is some team is willing to take him off their hands in hopes that he can find his game again.
Nice Surprises: West and Wright. Delonte West scored well on PA100, while Brandon Wright did so on WP/48 and WS/48. These guys should be retained as valuable rotation players off the bench.
Easily replaceable: Kidd/Marion/Terry. It looks like these guys are well past their primes, as all performed near or below replacement-level this past season on 2 of the 3 metrics, and didn't make a dent on the player combinationes. This is where adding a player like Deron Williams could really positively impact this club, as it would give the Mavs a formidable rotation where the only thing missing would be a starting caliber SF.
Plan for the future:
1. Get rid of Lamar Odom. Any chance of signing Deron Williams hinges on this.
2. Trade Shawn Marion: Marion was all over the map with the advanced statistics, and he had the lowest 1 player +/- on the entire team (-81). I would dump him now for a team willing to get a SF who is a reputable defender, just not worth 8 million. A team with cap space needing to upgrade defensively may take a chance on Shawn. Marion also needs to go for the Mavs to be able to sign Williams to a max deal.
3. All in on Deron Williams. Williams would give the Mavs a young star to put next to aging vets Dirk and Vince Carter, but would put them right up near the top of the West for a couple more seasons. While ultimately I don't think Williams is the only missing piece for this ball club, he would be a great upgrade over Kidd/Terry/Beaubois running the point.
4. Keep Wright, West, add a SF. If the Mavs can perform the first 3 steps (which is absolutely no guarantee), then keeping West and Wright for solid production off the bench and adding a starting-level SF would be the next step. This is no easy task, but as we have mentioned over and over again, there are options out there (Gee, Green, etc.). This would give the Mavs a very solid rotation going forwards:
Williams-Carter-West as the 3 guards
Green/Gee-Dirk-Wright as the 3 forwards
Haywood-Mahinmi as the centers
With Jones/Azubuike/Beaubois available as needed.