Time for our weekly foray into the Mavs mailbag.
Kirk Henderson (Washington, D.C.): Should Jose Calderon shoot more? He's right around his career average at 8.1 attempts but I feel like Dallas would benefit if he took 1-2 more shots a game.
Good question from one of the sharper Mavs minds on the Internet, but I don’t necessarily agree with you, Kirk.
We heard Dirk Nowitzki encourage Calderon to shoot more often during the preseason, saying the Mavs will live with him launching open midrange jumpers off of pick-and-rolls all day long. The problem is that Calderon is incapable of creating his own shot.
I want him aggressively looking for open jumpers, but we need to understand that he’ll have the ball in his hands less than he’s used to because Monta Ellis is the Mavs’ best creator. I like that Calderon is averaging the most 3-point attempts of his career (5.3 per game) while continuing to shoot at an elite clip from long distance. His ability to space the floor has tremendous value for the Mavs, and he should get a lot of good looks at 3s with defenses focusing on Nowitzki and Ellis.
Jason (Dallas): Do you think Shane Larkin can work his way back into the rotation once he's healthy or is he too far behind with all the missed time? Gal Mekel has been fairly good, but don't the Mavs need an infusion of the speed and athleticism Larkin displayed in college?
I think Larkin’s primary competition for playing time will be Devin Harris, not Mekel. Larkin will be ready before Harris, who has just been cleared to run and jump, but Harris is a veteran who will be the backup point guard if the competition is close. Either way, the Mavs will get a little turbo boost off the bench.
Josh (Richardson): What is your take on Wayne Ellington so far? Is he going to be valuable during trade time? Or is he a bad contact for what he has contributed so far?
Jae Crowder has earned the role the Mavs signed Ellington to play. That doesn’t make Ellington's deal a bad contract. It’s a two-year, $5.4 million deal, which isn’t big money in the NBA. I don’t think Ellington will have great value around the trade deadline, but it's a movable contract if the Mavs need a piece to make the money work.
For now, Ellington needs to be in "be ready" mode. We’ve seen plenty of examples of players going from riding the pine to playing a key role under Rick Carlisle.
Jose Martinez (Dallas): Do you consider Dirk taking less shots a problem for this team now or the future at any point?
It's certainly not something I want to see become a trend this season. It's premature to get too worked up about it, though.
I think a big part of it is Dirk getting used to playing with his new supporting cast and being unselfish to a fault because of that. I'd rather have Dirk take a pretty good look than anyone other than Calderon taking an open jumper.
Gnosys (Seattle): Will we trade for a defensive big man later in the season?
Aside from Dirk being dealt, I don’t rule out much for the Mavs when it comes to the trade market. However, I don't see a defensive center being a big priority unless Samuel Dalembert gets injured.
Dalembert has filled his role as a rim protector and rebounder, DeJuan Blair has played awfully well off the bench and Brandan Wright is a weapon once he returns. There’s only one traditional center in that group, but it’s a solid big man rotation.
Now, if the Mavs have a chance to make an upgrade that could be a long-term fit, they’d be foolish not to aggressively explore it. I just don’t see them desperately searching for a big body.
@mrana85 on Twitter: Knowing how bad many of them are defensively, is there any real way to improve? Master the zone?
I’ll let Carlisle handle this one.
"We’ve got to take those challenges," he said. "They’ve got to be individual challenges and then the team has got to step up behind these guys. A lot of times we’ll end up double-teaming pick-and-rolls and stuff like that. The other guys are really important to that effort.
"We’ve got a couple of guys who are really good defenders. [Shawn] Marion is a really good individual defender. Dalembert is one of the best rim protectors. Other than that, we’ve got to be really team-oriented in our defense."
@Mr3Elmore on Twitter: Would you agree that points off turnovers are killing the Mavs on the road more than defense?
I’d say that points off turnovers make a problematic area even worse. The Mavs will have a tough enough time defending good teams in the half court. They’re in huge trouble if teams can constantly get in transition against them, especially if it’s a freakishly athletic team like Oklahoma City.
@bo_kice on Twitter: What is the timetable for Brandan Wright and Devin Harris to get back to the court? Need defense.
Still no definite timetable on either one. Neither has been cleared to practice yet. It’s a matter of weeks for both of them.