The Mavericks had dreams of running a pick-and-roll offense centered around one of the league’s most efficient behemoths in DeAndre Jordan. Jordan’s decision to spurn Dallas in favor of returning to Los Angeles dampened those plans. The team made several moves this offseason to bring aboard players who could man the starting spot alongside Dirk Nowitzki and it hopes one of the players establishes himself as the clear-cut choice for the job.
Dallas acquired Zaza Pachulia from Milwaukee this summer. The big man started 45 games for last season’s playoff-bound Bucks team and has proven he can be a serviceable starting center, as Chuck Myron of Hoops Rumors notes in his weekly chat. The Mavs’ acquisition of Pachulia is flying under the radar and perhaps it shouldn’t be. The big man had an impressive 2014/15 season, finishing second among centers in ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus. While his underrated defense will help the Mavs cope this season, his presence on the roster isn’t going to make fans forget about DeAndreGate due to the 31-year-old’s lack of upside.
The team added another proven player that lacks upside in Samuel Dalembert. The center previously played with the Mavs during the 2013/14 season. The team made the playoffs and nearly knocked off the eventual champion Spurs with Dalembert in the lineup. The 34-year-old wasn’t a top option on that team, but coach Rick Carlisle knows what he has in the center and could look to give a known commodity the nod. Still, as Eddie Scarito of Hoops Rumors explains in his weekly mailbag, Dalembert is better suited for a reserve role at this point in his career.
The most intriguing addition came earlier this month when the team finally signed JaVale McGee. McGee hasn’t developed into the player that many expected him to be when he was selected with the No. 18 pick in the 2008 draft. He has shown flashes of potential and if Carlisle can aid him in reaching his ceiling, Dallas might have found a player that can reach All-Star level heights. The team will need that type of player to emerge if it’s going to compete in the ultra-competitive Western Conference. However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet. McGee may not even make the team, as we explained in last week’s Shootaround. Dallas has 15 fully guaranteed contracts on the books and McGee is not one of them.
Salah Mejri, who signed with the team this offseason, is one of those players whose salary is fully guaranteed. Mejri is a long-armed, agile center, who helped Real Madrid win the Spanish League title last season. Dallas likes the 29-year-old and he should get an opportunity to compete for team’s starting five spot.
Dallas also has Jarrid Famous and Dwight Powell on the roster, but neither player possesses a fully guaranteed contract. Both players are more likely to be cut prior to opening night and spend time with the Texas Legends, the team’s D-League affiliate.
The Mavs have a bevy of options to choose from when considering their starting center. Who should start at the five? In addition to making your selection, let us know what your pitch to Mark Cuban and Rick Carlisle would be in the comment section below.
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