Thursday, July 12, 2012
Darren Collison, Chris Kaman should help offense
By Jeff Caplan
The Dallas Mavericks' "flow" offense last season didn't exactly live up to its name. It was often a grind, ranking 19th in scoring (95.8 points a game), 19th in field-goal percentage (44.3 percent) and, particularly telling, 15th in assists (20.9).
Multiple reasons exist for the downturn. Jason Kidd missed 18 games and, when he did play, he simply wasn't a threat to get to the rim and his 3-point shooting was erratic. Outside of Delonte West, who missed 22 games, no one was a rim attacker. Terry attacked at his leisure, and Rodrigue Beaubois has yet to fill expectations in this role -- one that J.J. Barea had come to perfect.
The Mavs also lacked a low-post finisher last season. Tyson Chandler, never a dump-it-in center, could fly off screens and catch and finish with authority. Brendan Haywood's tediousness under the basket tended to make such plays frustratingly comical. Why the Mavs at time continually dumped it down to him was equally frustrating. Those days are over as the Mavs plan soon to use their amnesty clause on Haywood.
Dallas' new acquisitions should help the offense become a bit more fruitful even though Terry is gone, leaving the roster glaringly void of a 3-point sharpshooter. Vince Carter, 18th on the NBA's all-time 3-pointers made list, now seemingly inherits that role.
Center Chris Kaman will complement Dirk Nowitzki like no other low-post player Dirk has paired with in his 14 seasons, much like Al Jefferson would have done when the Mavs flirted with trading for him a couple summers ago. Kaman has averaged double figures in seven consecutive seasons and he is the rare 7-footer in the league today that can get the ball on the block and go to work with excellent footwork and a soft touch on an array of hooks and jumpers.
As for Collison, his explosive first step easily makes him the best rim attacker on the roster. That will be a welcome change for a team that has long made a living from the perimeter. Last season, Dallas finished ahead of only Philadelphia in shot attempts at the rim, according to ESPN affiliate Hoopdata.com.
The 6-foot, 160-pound Collison has not put up great assist numbers in this three NBA seasons (5.2), but he will be proficient at running the pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop with Nowitzki, and he will simulate some of Barea's ability to drive and dish when the defense collapses.
Coach Rick Carlisle has already stated that the offensive system could be tweaked depending on the personnel. With speed returning to the backcourt and a true low-post option next to Nowitzki, the Mavs will bring a new look to the offensive end and should be able to juice things up from last season's struggles.