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Monday, September 17, 2012
Mark Cuban no longer cringes at big men's jumpers

By Tim MacMahon

DALLAS – The soft shooting touch of Mavs newcomers Chris Kaman and Elton Brand is a sweet sight to the man who signs their checks.

“I have to say it’s the first time since I’ve owned the Mavs when I’ve walked downstairs and saw our centers taking jump shots and that I didn’t cringe,” owner Mark Cuban said.

Well, how quickly they forget the Raef LaFrentz era. What about Wang Zhi-Zhi? And Brandon Bass did play a lot of center for the Mavs despite being generously listed at 6-foot-8.

But you get Cuban’s point. The two men who will play the vast majority of center minutes for the Mavs this season do the majority of their offensive damage with their jumpers.

That’s quite a difference from Erick Dampier and Brendan Haywood, whose limitations just damaged the Mavs’ offense. The Mavs actually ran a play on occasion to get Tyson Chandler an elbow jumper that he knocked down pretty efficiently, but it’s not like opponents game-planned to prevent the missing piece to the Mavs’ championship puzzle from getting midrange looks.

“We have a new dynamic this year,” coach Rick Carlisle said, “and we really think it’s going to help our offensive game.”

Brand, who will split time at power forward and center, is one of the league’s most effective shooters in the 10-to-15-foot range.

According to HoopData.com, Dirk Nowitzki and Kobe Bryant are the only players who attempted more shots from that range last season than Brand (3.4 per game). Brand hit 45.6 percent of those attempts, which ranked behind only Brook Lopez, Chris Bosh, Bass, David Lee, Andrea Bargnani, Tim Duncan and Luis Scola among power forward/centers who operate from that range on a regular basis.

Brand isn’t bad a bit further from the hoop, hitting 43 percent of his 2.5 shots per game from 16-23 feet last season.

Kaman excels at that range. He hit 45 percent of his shots from 16 to 23 feet last season, which ranked fifth among centers, trailing only Zaza Pachulia (seriously), Kurt Thomas, Marreese Speights and Duncan. Kaman averaged almost as many attempts from 16 to 23 feet (3.3 per game) as he did at the rim (3.6).

Kaman also does a lot of work from 10 to 15 feet, launching more shots from there (3.0 per game) than every center except Al Jefferson last season. His shooting percentage in that range (43.6) ranked sixth among big men.