Mavs Donuts previews today's start of training camp with a highly organized and categorized look at the 20-man roster fighting for 15 final spots. 'Your Training Camp Opening Who's Who Primer':
DONUT 1: THE ICON
*Dirk Nowitzki - He comes off an 18.3-points/6.5-rebounds season during which he was Dallas' best player -- as usual. Nowitzki shot 44.8 percent from the field and 36.8 percent from three and led the team in scoring. At 38, the Mavs would like someone for him to pass the torch to while reducing his minutes. But these are both common themes in recent years. This year's team has a shot at being a defense-first team, and maybe that will free Dirk to do what he does best.
“We should be able to have a great defensive lineup,'' Dirk says self-effacingly, "once I’m out.''
DONUT 2: THE HOLDOVER BACKCOURT
*Wesley Matthews - Matthews came to Dallas from Portland, where his 2014-15 season was marred due to a ruptured Achilles tendon. While rebuilding himself, Matthews led Dallas in minutes and played in 78 games, all starts, scoring 12.5 points per game while serving as Dallas' defensive stopper.
"Wes is 10 or 15 pounds lighter, he's doing 46-inch box jumps,'' says team owner Mark Cuban. "He texts me every day, 'All-Star, Cubes. I'm gunning for it!''
*Deron Williams - Last year he was good for 14.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 5.8 assists as he made 75 starts during the regular season for the Mavericks. Dallas wants his shooting to improve, though he was successful in clutch moments before his sports hernia injury ended his year in the playoffs.
"We will do it smart,'' Deron says of working at camp after surgery. "I don't want any hiccups or setbacks, but I have taken three months off from basketball to get ready for this.''
DONUT 3: THE WARRIORS
*Harrison Barnes - While Barnes wasn't a primary option with the Warriors; Curry and Klay made that impossible. But he was good for 11.7 points and 4.9 rebounds and he's just 24, with so much room to grow in Dallas, where he is the "replacement'' for the departed Chandler Parsons ... and, Dallas hopes, can supplement his top-notch defensive ability with some "go-to'' presence on offense.
"I like this locker room,'' Barnes says. "I think this is a group of high-character guys.''
And the Mavs are confident Barnes is one of those ... maybe one of the best of those.
*Andrew Bogut - Bogut also comes over from Golden State, where he didn't put up huge offensive numbers ... though his history says he's capable of good numbers, as a scorer and a facilitator. He was acquired in trade for "nothing'' but can give Dallas everything in terms of being a two-way player. Dallas thinks it can be a top-10 defense this year, and Bogut will essentially service as the "playcaller'' of that defens
"(I'm) just making sure that when guys come in that paint, especially early in games, I’m either contesting the shot, blocking the shot, taking a charge or fouling somebody,'' Bogut says of his Dallas role.
DONUT 4: THE KID
*Justin Anderson - It's time. A sixth-man role. A starter's minutes. A job as a game-closer, especially on the defensive end, and a job as a spark plug throughout games, because this team last year, especially in the late-going fed off his energy. Anderson still isn't a "pure shooter'' ... but he is putting in the work to get better there, too.
"He was one of the big reasons we got to the playoffs (last year),'' coach Rick Carlisle says. "He’s a hard worker, he loves to play, he loves to be a part of a team, and so he’s another important guy as we look towards the future.”
DONUT 5: THE BACKCOURT BACKUP VETS
*JJ Barea - Barea is, until somebody else proves otherwise, Dallas' best penetrator and finisher -- an oddity for a 5-10 guard. He scored 10.9 points last year with 4.1 assists, shot 44.6 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from three, and is an inspiration with his style of play.
*Devin Harris - Devin is working through another toe issue, as as he nears full health, he joins JJB as a fearless penetrator and finisher. Last year, he scored 7.6 points per with 2.2 rebounds as he role shifted on a regular basis, sometimes as a point guard, sometimes as the 2, sometimes as the waterbug defender ... Harris may be the place where minutes have to give this year if Anderson develops properly.
DONUT 6: THE YOUTH MOVEMENT
*Dwight Powell - Powell was given a financial commitment that seems, to some, in conflict with his 5.8 points and four rebounds from a year ago. But the Mavs think they are getting a growing player with sky's-the-limit athleticism combined with a personality that makes him highly coachable. Last year was his best NBA season; Dallas believes that escalation will continue as he plays 4 and some 5.
*Seth Curry - Mark Cuban actually said Curry, 26, can shoot the basketball with the same efficiency as his brother, and that seems a little nutty. After all, Curry's two-year deal in Dallas comes after scoring 6.8 points per last year with Sacramento. He'll get more consistent coaching than he's gotten before. We're not sure yet if he'll get consistent minutes.
*Quincy Acy - Acy, a DFW native (and Curry's Sacramento pal) contributed 5.2 points and 3.2 rebounds Acy n 59 games for the Kings last season. He's an under-the-radar NBA player, but he made 29 starts last season, a guy who fights on defense and fights for rebounds. He's on a two-year deal here, with a chance to prove that he can be a rotation player on a winner -- and to maybe be a threat to compete with Powell for backup big minutes, even though he's just 6-7.
DONUT 7: THE OLD YOUTH
*Salah Mejri - He was a rookie last year at 29, and if you just look at his numbers -- 3.7 points and 3.6 rebounds -- you don't see the contributions he made as the rare "energy guy'' who is 7-foot-1. The center from Tunisia has a shot-blocking knack and despite the way the Mave might want to bill AJ Hammons here, Mejri is the backup center.
DONUT 8: THE TIGER-LESS TANK?
*AJ Hammons - Ah, Hammons. He was a consistently good college big over the course of his four seasons yet Dallas was able to select Hammons in the second round of June’s NBA Draft. Why? Despite his size and relative polish, there is a lack of intensity that needs to get fixed. Mavs exec Donnie Nelson openly questions AJ's lack of a "tiger in his tank.'' We're about to see if Carlisle can coach up that tiger. ... and we're about to see a lot of AJ in Frisco, too.
DONUT 9: THE UNUSUAL SUSPECT
*Jonathan Gibson - The 6-foot-2 Gibson has a guarantee for the year but that's not why I view him as a virtual lock here. Do the math above; There are 13 guys up there. That leaves two spots. Gibson averaged nearly 19 points per game for the Mavs’ Summer League team after becoming a late-blooming star overseas. Dallas actually has a vacancy for this sort of player. I think Gibson is in.
DONUT 10: THE DO-ONE-THING-WELL'ERS
If I'm right about Gibson, that leaves one spot, the 15th spot. Carlisle has long preached that if a player can "do one thing exceptionally well,'' he has an NBA shot.
This is that group:
*Nicolas Brussino - The Argentinian standout has down-the-line potential as a perimeter creator from the wing but Brussino, at 6-7, doesn't have an NBA body yet.
*Dorian Finney-Smith - The former Florida forward is a "3-and-D'' guy.
*Jameel Warney - Warney was a rebounding master at Stony Brook. He's 6-8, 256 and when I joke to him that he's "jacked,'' he smiles and agrees.
One guy in this group is in.
DONUT 11: THE OTHER GUYS
It hardly seems fair, and their fans (especially Collinsworth's, who are legion) have every right to see it another way. But at this point, these fellas fill out the 20-man:
*Kyle Collinsworth - A 6-foot-6 guard with versatility as his BYU calling card. Not an NBA shooter at this time, though.
*C.J. Williams - The 6-foot-5 Williams has played overseas but also has D-League experience and a connection with Bob McKinnon, the Texas Legends coach in Frisco.
*Keith Hornsby - The LSU shooter has a connection with management because his dad, musician Bruce Hornsby, is a buddy of piano man Carlisle. He's Frisco-bound.
DONUT 12: THE FINAL WORD
So I've got the first 13 set, Gibson virtually set as the 14th guy, and three kids fighting for the 15th spot. If somehow Gibson doesn't make it (again, I don't foresee that, but if), he'll spurn Frisco to return to nice money overseas. If Collinsworth doesn't make the Mavs, I believe he'll go overseas, too. Williams and Hornsby are Frisco-bound. Brussino would be a maybe there. The Legends would love to have Finney-Smith and/or Werney, depending on the big club's decisions, come down to the D-League.
But all of these are supplementary stories, of course. Good camp stories. But not as important as the top of the Donuts -- The Icon, The Warriors and The Holdover Backcourt, and the rest.null