Dallas Mavericks: Justin Dentmon
“It doesn’t feel good,” Mavs summer league coach Monte Mathis said about the loss to the Warriors. “We know it was our game to have.”
Now, the Mavs will go up against the second-seeded Chicago Bulls in the consolation bracket of the tournament on Friday night.
It’s weird to think that the Mavs were expecting to rely heavily on second-year players Bernard James and Jae Crowder throughout the duration of the summer league and it appears that they will have neither of them available in the team’s finale.
While James missed his fourth consecutive game and was back in Dallas, the Mavs got somewhat of a scare late in the first quarter of their loss to the Warriors as Crowder sprained his left ankle. While the severity of the injury is still unknown, Mathis didn’t sound overly concerned about the injury.
“I don’t think it’s bad,” Mathis said after the loss. “But it wasn’t worth him trying to continue to play.”
The injury to Crowder was another example of how it’s been a roller coaster-like run for the Mavs in the summer league. They now know they have a few interesting prospects -- mainly Gal Mekel, Ricky Ledo and Jackie Carmichael -- to look at as they prepare for training camp in a few months. Those prospects helped them get very close to beating the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, but they had too many little issues pop up that ultimately derailed their run.
Dallas will now go out and play the best it can in what will be its final game of the tournament.
“I want to finish good and on a high note,” said Justin Dentmon, who led Dallas with 19 points off the bench in Thursday's loss. “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish, and we want to come out and just finish well.”
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.
ESPNDallas.com has learned that Akognon's deal includes a team option for the 2013-14 season that will, at the very least, ensure he's a Maverick through the summer.
Akognon made his NBA debut in Wednesday's home loss to Phoenix and made his only shot in totaling two points and an assist in four minutes.
He's the third in a series of young guards that the Mavericks have auditioned on 10-day deals during the second half of the season, following Chris Wright and Justin Dentmon out of the D-League.
The 5-foot-11 combo guard was the Mavericks' final cut in training camp and spent the bulk of the season in China, leading the Chinese Basketball Association in scoring. The former Big West Conference Player of the Year went undrafted out of Cal State Fullerton in 2009 but led the Titans to their first NCAA Tournament berth in 30 years in 2008.
The 5-foot-11 combo guard averaged nearly 30 points per game in China this season and will take the roster spot of Justin Dentmon, who was informed after Tuesday night's loss to the Lakers that he wouldn't be receiving a second 10-day deal.
Akognon spent the 2012 preseason with the Mavs before signing with the Liaoning Jiebao Hunters of the Chinese Basketball Association. In 36 games with the Hunters, he averaged 29 points and 3.1 rebounds in just under 25 minutes per game.
Akognon is expected to join the team in Denver and be available for the game against the Nuggets on April 4.
Dentmon (6-0, 185) is averaging 26.0 points in 22 games with the Texas Legends of the D-League. He was the MVP of the league in 2011-12 with the Austin Toros.
Sources with knowledge of the situation told ESPN.com that the Mavericks will next sign guard Justin Dentmon from their own D-League affiliate to a 10-day deal, most likely finalizing a contract with the Texas Legends' leading scorer Monday.
The team on Friday notified Chris Wright -- who now ranks as the only player in NBA history known to have multiple sclerosis -- that he would not be receiving a second 10-day deal. In the wake of Beaubois' injury, Dallas has decided to use its 15th roster spot to get to know various young players for potential down-the-road signings.
That means, sources say, Dallas is likely to bring in another player on a 10-day basis after Dentmon's trial. Dentmon is averaging 26.0 points through 22 games with the Legends and was the D-League's MVP last season while playing for the San Antonio Spurs' affiliate in Austin, earning callups from both the Spurs and Toronto Raptors.
Some potential fits for a 10-day deal in Dallas:
*Chris Wright: He’s averaging 15.5 points, 7.0 assists and 4.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game for the Iowa Energy. The 23-year-old Wright (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) starred in Turkey last season after going undrafted out of Georgetown.
*Ben Uzoh: The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Uzoh, who turns 25 this month, has 60 games of NBA experience, including a triple-double for the Raptors last season. He’s averaging 13.4 points, 5.7 assists and 4.6 rebounds for the Springfield Armor.
*Justin Dentmon: He’s a 27-year-old who has averaged 20.9 points and 4.4 assists in 125 career D-League games. Dentmon, who is back with the Texas Legends after a stint in Austin, is leading the D-League in scoring with 21.4 points per game this season but is shooting only 41.2 percent from the floor.
*Sean Singletary: The 6-foot, 185-pound Singletary, 27, is Dentmon’s teammate with the Texas Legends. He averages 13.5 points and 6.1 assists per game.
The Mavs will also keep a close eye on cuts around the league in case a player who they believe has some value becomes available.
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