Countdown: Ranking the Mavs -- No. 5

July, 29, 2011
7/29/11
12:00
AM CT
Now we're talking. The countdown is down to the final five, the big hitters, the go-to guys.

So who are they?

First, here's a reminder of what this is all about: I'm ranking and analyzing the 16 players currently on Dallas' 15-man roster, one a day, from least critical to most critical to a title defense (with likelihood of being on the roster next season playing a significant role in the ranking).

For Nos. 16-6, scroll down. For No. 5, look no further:

JASON TERRY
[+] EnlargeJason Terry
Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty ImagesJason Terry put his playoff failures of the past behind him with a memorable championship run.
Pos: SG
Ht/Wt: 6-2/180
Experience: 12 years
Age: 33 (Sept. 15, 1977)
Contract status: Signed through 2011-12
2010-11 salary: $ 9.9 million
2011-12 salary: $11.66 million

His story: It's one of redemption. Terry has been blamed and shouldered blame for the disappointing postseasons following the 2006 Finals collapse. Now, Terry has already reserved his spot in the American Airlines Center rafters for his No. 31 to be retired next to Rolando Blackman and Brad Davis. Terry is a champion and he's enjoying every minute of it. And why not? He was an integral part of the Mavs' run to glory after his regular season concluded with sketchy behavior -- from the out-of-control technical foul in Los Angeles, to the in-game blowup at home with teammate J.J. Barea and coach Rick Carlisle, to his premature victory celebration after he missed a free throw in the final seconds in Houston. He put it all behind him and put together a postseason for the ages, averaging 17.5 points on 47.8-percent shooting (44.2 percent from 3-point range). He had the memorable Game 4 wipeout of the Los Angeles Lakers, hitting 9-of-10 from beyond the arc for 33 points, and who will forget the uber-confident (cocky?) Terry calling out LeBron James and then walking the walk in the NBA Finals? Here's the facts: Terry had not shot better than 43 percent in the previous four postseasons and in the last two he was below 38 percent. It's hard to argue that when the Jet's engines are cold, the Mavs are vulnerable. When he's revved up and on his game, they sure are tough to beat.

His outlook: It's a strange feeling for sure for Terry as he enters the final year of his contract and eighth with the Mavs -- hard to imagine Steve Nash walked out way back in 2004 and Terry was the guy the Mavs traded for to take his place. Terry, who will turn 34 before the season starts, has said he wants to retire in Dallas. President of basketball operations Donnie Nelson has said he'd like to see that happen. As for next season, Terry will, in all likelihood, continue in the sixth-man role -- and presumably any day now he'll announce his intentions to reclaim the NBA's Sixth Man award after finishing second the last two seasons. Terry had plenty of pressure on him to perform last season, especially after Caron Butler, who was emerging as the club's needed second-leading scorer behind Dirk Nowitzki, went down for the season on Jan. 1. If the Mavs can re-sign Butler, it would again allow Terry to not have to worry about filling it up every night. Butler is capable of scoring 18 to 20 points a night and giving the starting lineup a significant boost. The Mavs hope the addition of 6-foot-6 shooting guard Rudy Fernandez, the likely starter, and a fresh start for Rodrigue Beaubois will help ease the scoring burden on Terry and further diversify the offense. And, if the Mavs don't re-sign Barea, Terry could spend more time handling the point. Had Terry cratered last postseason, the cries to run him out of town would have grown loud. Now, he's beloved more than ever and his quirky miscues that are bound to happen from time to time will be more easily excused. Will the Mavs begin negotiating an extension when the lockout is lifted? Will he finish out the season and become a free agent for the first time in his career? Stay tuned.

The Countdown
No. 16 DeShawn Stevenson
No. 15 Peja Stojakovic
No. 14 Dominique Jones
No. 13 Ian Mahinmi
No. 12 Brian Cardinal
No. 11 Rodrigue Beaubois
No. 10 Brendan Haywood
No. 9 Corey Brewer
No. 8 J.J. Barea
No. 7 Rudy Fernandez
No. 6 Shawn Marion
No. 5 Jason Terry
No. 4 Coming Monday

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dirk Nowitzki
PTS AST STL MIN
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsD. Nowitzki 6.2
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksB. Wright 0.9