It’s been that case for several years, with Shawn Marion sliding over a spot for most of the minutes when Nowitzki rested. Marion’s tenure in Dallas has almost certainly ended, but the Mavs have several players on the roster they believe are capable of playing quality minutes at power forward.
Coach Rick Carlisle, who would like to cut Nowitzki’s minutes down to 30 per game if possible (the 36-year-old played nearly 33 in 2013-14), listed Chandler Parsons, Al-Farouq Aminu, Jae Crowder and Richard Jefferson as the primary candidates. He’s also open to the idea of giving Brandan Wright more minutes at power forward, although Wright’s career has been redefined in Dallas an athletic center who thrives with floor-spacers around him.
"I don’t see us having a problem of finding a guy who can play that position effectively," Carlisle said. "It’s a matter of figuring out who plays well with who, getting the right guys on the floor together."
Parsons played some small-ball power forward for the Houston Rockets and will continue to do so for the Mavs. He presents a major matchup problem for the opposing defense when he plays that position. He has struggled defending bigger power forwards in the post, which is part of the reason he’s emphasizing strength training this summer.
However, Parsons might not necessarily play the majority of the power forward minutes when Nowitzki is off the floor, as Marion did.
Carlisle sounded especially intrigued by the idea of Aminu, an extraordinary athlete who is 6-foot-9 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, at power forward. He sees Aminu, who agreed to a two-year deal with the Mavs for the veteran’s minimum with a player option for the second season, as someone who can mitigate some of the things the Mavs will miss absent Marion.
The Mavs believe Aminu has elite defensive potential. He has proved to be a premier rebounder, leading the league’s small forwards in rebounding percentage the past two seasons.
"He’s played mostly the 3 so far in his career, but I really feel like the 4 is a better position for him,” Carlisle said. “Those backup Dirk minutes are going to be a possibility for him to really bring a different dimension."