DALLAS — It became a position of strength for the Dallas Mavericks after the selection of rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. with the ninth overall pick in June’s NBA Draft. Now, according to head coach Rick Carlisle, the Mavericks could send multiple point guards out to the court at the same time this season in order to play at a faster pace.
Seeing veteran guards Devin Harris and J.J. Barea return with the team this upcoming season, the Mavs will have a balance of youth and experience in the backcourt to add depth behind Smith at the point. The Mavericks are also hopeful second-year floor general Yogi Ferrell and 27-year-old combo guard Seth Curry can continue to make strides after breakout individual seasons during the 2016-17 campaign. And with plenty of depth at the point guard position, Carlisle envisions using multiple playmakers together this season as the Mavs attempt to speed up the tempo.
“It’s our roster. It’s not just one guy,” Carlisle explained. “You know, we’ve got five legitimate point guards on this roster. And if we don’t play a more uptempo style, somebody is going to be sitting and we’re going to be sitting one of our better players. I don’t want to do that.
“Do the math. I don’t see us playing four of them at a time, but I would say the answer is yes. I do see us being able to play with multiple point guards and playmaker types, which is really important in today’s game,” the coach added. “I mean, you’ve got to have playmaking, and those playmakers have got to be able to defend and rebound. I mean, you can’t go and play transition basketball unless you’re stopping somebody and getting the ball off the boards.”
The Mavs ranked 30th in the league in scoring last season, posting just 97.9 points per game as a team. The Dallas offense also dished out just 20.8 assists an outing as a team, ranking 27th in that department. To Carlisle’s point, however, the Mavericks finished last in the league in rebounding as well, pulling down just 38.6 boards a game. And after finishing with the second-to-last slowest pace in the league, the Mavericks know they’ll have to rebound better in order to speed up the tempo and generate more offensive success during the ’17-18 campaign.
The Mavericks did rank seventh in the league with a defensive rebounding percentage of 77.6 percent last season, giving them encouragement that they can fuel their fast-break offense this year. However, Dallas’ 103.7 offensive rating last season ranked 23rd in the league. The Mavs also averaged the fewest freak-break points in the league last season, scoring just 7.8 points a game in transition after failing to finish off defensive possessions with stops. And after averaging just 32.8 points per game in the paint to rank last in that area last season, the Mavericks will depend heavily on their guard play to create more scoring opportunities.
“Obviously, playing at a faster pace is something that we did when I first got here. I’m glad we’re kind of getting back to it,” Harris explained. “I think we have guys that are going to relish in that type of environment. The way we can attack the rim with some of the young guys that we have, the way we can space the floor with some of the shooters that we have and bigs being able to finish as well, I think it fits our team well. We’re going to take that first look, if we get it. If not, we’ll move the ball like we tend to do. But I think playing at a faster pace is going to suit this younger group that we’ve got.”