The first thing that comes to mind when you consider rolling out a lineup of Greg Smith at your starting center and Chandler Parsons at your starting power forward is rebounding.
The Dallas Mavericks ' complete inability to keep anyone out of the paint was a real problem on the defensive end in Wednesday loss at Denver but what really ended that game as a 114-117 loss (in which Rick didn't play three of his big guns) were the Nuggets' three offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter.
And of course, we're not writing an entire story about Jermaine O'Neal and how badly Dallas needs him to get off his couch and come downtown because of one game. On the year, the Mavericks are the second-worst team in allowing offensive rebounds, handing out 12.2 a game. Over the last five games the Mavericks are a negative 10.4 in the rebounding category.
Now, think about this, what it means to the coaching staff, what it means to Tyson and the players: Just imagine going into a game knowing you’re about to give the other team 10 more offensive possessions. The Mavericks have stayed afloat because they’ve been taking advantage of the other team’s turnovers, with Monta and Rondo as aggressive stealers.
Does that last? Against good teams? In the playoffs? When opposing premium ball-handlers?
This feels like as good of a time as any to take a look at Mr. Jermaine O’Neal and what could be the realistic expectations for him if he does choose to play in Dallas.
We can set the scene of what we know about the situation here, when Premium Mavs Fans get the scoop on the "kink'' -- which, in short, has sources telling DB.com that while JO has returned from his medical journey to Germany and seems ready to unretire, the Mavs want assurances of his good health before they grab him.
And, frankly, at this very moment, they have their doubts.
But, assuming he gets clearance and they get him: Judging from his last four seasons it’s realistic to expect 20 minutes worth of floor time for O’Neal a night. His offensive numbers will be judged off of last season in Golden State, fair, seeing as the 2014 Warriors hold many similarities offensively to what the 2015 Mavericks are on track to be.
The basic numbers boil down to 7.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, 50.4-percent shooting and 75 percent from the line.
That's basic. And would be a big help.
When you start sniffing around the periphery at some of the other numbers, you can find some interesting digits. For instance, last season with Golden State ...
*O’Neal averaged 1.9 offensive rebounds per game in his 20 minutes on the court; the Mavericks only average 10 a game.
*The 102 defensive rating also jumps off the screen. (Tyson is at 103 this year).
The main numbers that interest us are, naturally, as this is Dallas' biggest issue, the rebounding percentage stats.
JO grabs 15 percent of the available rebounds when he’s on the court. That number isn’t exceptionally special for a center (Dalembert pulled down 19.4 percent last year) but you have to remember O’Neal was playing with Bogut and the rebound leach David Lee.
*With Phoenix the previous season he pulled down 16.2 percent of available rebounds and that’s an above average number. As a point of reference Greg Smith pulls down 12 percent (none) and Tyson Chandler pulls down 22% (all of the rebounds).
You’d like for Jermaine O'Neal to be a truly elite rebounder and there’s no way to hide the fact that he’s just an OK Windex man. But we say that in tandem with how good he has been defensively, with him being utilized by a top-notch coach in Rick Carlisle, and playing behind Tyson Chandler, he can be like a second-unit Emeregen-C for the Mavericks.
We also say we wish he'd hurry up and quit going to his kids' volleyball games and stuff.