DONUT 1: R-E-S-P-E-C-T
The national media haven't been too kind to the Mavericks in their much-heralded preseason power rankings. An example? CBS Sports' Matt Moore ranks the Mavs at 22 (below Utah/Phoenix and even Denver). His reasoning? The same old injury concerns that everyone else in Mavs Nation has been hearing about for the last three months and hand-wringing over Dallas' center-by-committee approach.
It's safe to say that there's legitimate question marks on the Mavericks -- we haven't shied away from pointing those oout -- but to rank them below a rebuilding Denver team seems like a heck of a reach (even for the national media).
"We know what kind of noise we can make, but it kind of starts from within,'' Devin Harris said. "As we get better, we look forward to showing it."
DONUT 2: Deliberate Rick
Rick Carlisle has been very deliberate about pumping up the prowess of one of the less heralded Dallas acquisitions this summer. That would be John Jenkins, the journeyman wing Dallas is bringing to camp in hopes the Vanderbilt sharpshooter can find his way into the Mavericks' rotation behind Wesley Matthews, Devin Harris and rookie Justin Anderson.
Jenkins' defensive prowess is a bit of an unknown but his tools on the defensive end are undeniable and he's got some size at 6-4 and 220. What's another reclamation project for the wizardry of Rick? As always, the player/projects who buy into Rick's teachings usually flourish. Those who don't ... are never quite the same again.
DONUT 3: The Lauching Pad
An interesting development for the Mavericks thus far in practice is the grooming of Jeremy Evans at the 3, 4 and even the 5 position.
Evans is not the biggest of players (6-9, 200 pounds) but there is hope here at DB.com (along with Devin Harris) of him being a Brandan Wright-style finisher on pick-and-rolls. ... The difference being, of course, is that Wright was 6-11.
But remember, B-Wright sometimes had trouble holding his own in the paint against opposing bigs. And that can be a downside here, too. While this SmallBall idea seems completely feasible in a sense for Dallas, it also again seems to leave the Mavericks sorely lacking for a defensive rebounding presence, something they desperately need, as we note here.
“[Wright] was my go-to,'' Devin said. "He was like my bail-out guy and a guy I could always find on the court. We struggled a little bit with (not having Wright), but I think we have something similar with Jeremy.”
Again, RC, you work this one out.
DONUT 4: Sam from outside?
A Fish video from the Mavs' practice showed Sam Dalembert demonstrating a soft touch from around 10-to-15 feet from the basket. This is comforting given Zaza Pachulia's recent comments that he's "not a pick-and-pop" guy.
But these things are relative. Doesn't this offense need Sam positioned nearer the basket, as he'll be teamed almost certainly with four guys who are better options as shooters?
DONUT 5: Fried Justin
Justin Anderson continues to show why he will become a quick fan favorite for the Dallas faithful. His recent foray to the Texas State Fair where he sampled various fried goodies (and ... not-so-goodies) and posed with fans was the most recent example. It's refreshing to see the Mavericks not only draft a player with tremendous upside on both sides of the ball, but also a seemingly high-character person like Anderson who figures to be here for the post-Dirk era.
His playfulness is the real deal. After practice the other day, he lured Zaza into an off-hand finger-roll contest, laughing all the way through the "showdown.''
DONUT 6: Wishing With Wes
Wes Matthews and Carlisle continue to voice differing opinions on his expected return date, with "Iron Man'' champing at the bit to be ready by the Oct. 28 opener in Phoenix and RC clarifying that while the "post-Christmas" prediction was indeed an idiotic media concoction, patience here is merited.
It's humorous to see Matthews openly admit to being like a "dog with the gate open" when trainer Casey Smith isn't looking, but Mavs fans have to hope he understands the big picture and doesn't re-injure himself because of his eagerness to be on the court. In other words, Casey's gotta keep that gate locked for a while.
DONUT 7: CP at the Point
Chandler Parsons is prepared to play more point forward this season, especially given the spate of injuries which may have several key Mavs starters out at season's beginning. That should free up some more off-the-ball looks for Deron Williams who is dealing with a nagging calf strain. One of the factors that will greatly determine Parsons' value in the upcoming summer is how he performs specifically in these offensive roles, and it will be interesting to see how RC further "tweaks" the offense to fit the different skill sets of yet another batch of newcomers.
But CP playing the point in some form comes with a question: Perimeter decision-makers might be a Dallas strength, with Deron, Devin, JJB and Felton all available. How much should they be setting up CP vs. how much should he be in charge of setting up them?
Carlisle said he's "tweaking" some of what Dallas does on offense "based on our differences in personnel.'' Let's watch and see how that "tweaking'' impacts a group of sound NBA veteran point guards.
DONUT 8: The JaVale Experiment
JaVale McGee was shown in an exclusive clip shot by Fish working on his free throws with Rick in what appeared to be some tutoring on his form. McGee laughed and grimaced at what seemed to be a different release than what he was previously used to while Carlisle instructed him.
It's good to see Carlisle investing himself in a player that the Mavericks as an organization have taken extreme care to hedge themselves against should the enigmatic big man fall through during camp or fail to make the final roster. (By making it this far, another $250,000 comes his way.)
It'd be interesting to see if JaVale -- a career 58.7-percent free-throw shooter -- could get better under this coaching staff, or maybe even eventually learn from Holger late in the season ... If McGee makes it that far.
DONUT 9: Raw NDour
Another raw camp guy is Maurice NDour, whom Carlisle recently lauded with praise concerning his effort in practice. The tapes from Ohio U show NDour as an incredibly long wing (yes ... drawing yet another "Aminu"-type comparison) with extremely capable defensive tools and nice range on his shot. Carlisle went on to mention that NDour has been practicing almost exclusively at the 3 and 4 positions (as Mavs fans would expect) and added that he has even been learning some at the PG position, although it's highly doubtful we'll see the rookie actually playing the floor general in the regular season (or preseason, for that matter).
But how about seeing him -- and some of these other experimental concepts -- today at Fan Jam?
DONUT 10: Fan Jam today!
The Mavericks host their "Fan Jam" event today at the AAC at 1:30 with admission being free and a chance for those interested to take part in a world record-breaking game of Knockout. The festivities continue with a Mavericks' scrimmage and also autograph opportunities with some of the players. We'll be there and you definitely should, too! Follow Zack Cunningham, Jonny Auping, Matt Galatzan and Fish on Twitter for info, and of course when it comes to watching the Mavs (and Rangers, Cowboys, college football and NFL football) we'd love to see you at The Maverick Bar in Carrollton!
DONUT 11: Tuesday's opener
Dallas opens its preseason slate on Tuesday at home against Denver. (yes, the Denver team that CBS Sports thinks is going to be better than the Mavs.) Among those not scheduled to participate at this moment? Matthews, Parsons, JaVale McGee and maybe Deron Williams. It should be a great opportunity for the many "camp bodies" Dallas brought on this year to show RC why he should keep them around for the regular season and yet another opportunity for Justin Anderson to showcase exactly what he can do in the Mavs' flow offense and, maybe more importantly, on the defensive end.
In a sense, this camp is about the health of four likely starters ... and the quick development of Anderson. DB.com will have Fan Jam and that first game covered like a blanket, and Fish will be part of the TXA21 TV coverage beginning at 7 p.m.
DONUT 12: The Final Word
"The last couple of years we've had very good scrimmages in the Fan Jam. We've had high energy. We've had fast pace. ... "We need to compete hard. The White and the Blue team, we're going to make it competitive.'' -- Rick Carlisle on today's Fan Jam.