Jae Crowder remains an enigma for Mavs

LAS VEGAS -- With two summer league games in the books, here are five takeaways from Dallas’ performance so far in Las Vegas.

1. Jae Crowder remains an enigma: Coming into the summer league, Crowder’s weight loss and how that may help his ability to play multiple positions for the Mavs was the story. Through two games, there are two key components to his game that remain a mystery: his true position and the role he plays.

So far, Crowder really hasn’t stood out in any department. He’s shooting 46 percent from the field, but he’s shooting just 23.1 percent from 3-point range. His overall shooting from the field is actually better than it was last summer, but his long-range shooting is drastically worse. He’ll have to finish strong in Vegas in order to use that as a springboard when the team reconvenes for training camp.

2. Bernard James is a key component to the squad’s success: The Mavs looked like a completely different team in their loss to the Charlotte Bobcats. That was mainly because of their inability to control the paint. James missed that game due to illness. Without their anchor in the middle, the Mavs had no answer for Charlotte’s size.

While he may still be a project on the offensive end of the floor, James has the ability to control the game on the defensive end with his energy and mobility. With the Mavs lacking depth at center, the second year player's role may be larger in 2013-2014.

3. Ricky Ledo will be a project: After not playing organized basketball for over a year, Ricky Ledo has manned the role of the first scoring option off the bench in Vegas. One thing is clear: the talent is there. The rare combination of size, athleticism, shooting and ball-handling makes him such an intriguing prospect.

It’s been an up-and-down run for Ledo in the first portion of the summer league. It’s apparent that he plays a lot better when he’s under control. The Mavs clearly like him and believe he can be an asset. It looks like he will be a prime candidate to gain seasoning in Frisco with the Texas Legends, the team’s D-League affiliate, during the regular season.

4. Outside of the go-to names, there might not be a lot of depth there: Justin Dentmon scored a team-high 18 points in the team’s loss to Charlotte, but it appears he’s behind Gal Mekel, Ledo and Josh Akognon on the depth chart. (The go-to names would consist of Crowder, James, Mekel, Ledo and Akognon.)

The Mavs have an obvious need for big men. Unfortunately, none of the players out of the group of Dewayne Dedmon, Christian Watford, Jackie Carmichael and Hamady N'Diaye have shown consistency. It’s possible that any or all members of that quartet could be a training camp invitee, but that’s likely the end of the road for them.

5. Gal Mekel has some serious potential: Mekel has led the team in assists in both games and has done an impressive job of controlling the offense. His numbers could be better as he’s set up his teammates in scoring positions, but they have been unable to finish off those possessions. Mekel has also done a nice job of prodding the defense with dribble penetration.

Shooting will be the thing he needs to address between now and training camp. It takes too much time and effort for him to get his shot up from the perimeter. He will need to tighten that up or opponents will stay back on him, taking away his ability to drive into the lane. It would be wise of him to spend time with Jose Calderon, a gifted shooter at the point guard position, and see if he can help him in that department.