Some 10 games into the season, the majority of the Dallas Mavericks’ nine new players are already fitting in just fine in their new surroundings.
Starters Monta Ellis, Jose Calderon and Samuel Dalembert have more than held their own while making critical contributions to the Mavs’ 6-4 record. Reserves DeJuan Blair and Gal Mekel have also enjoyed some nominal success.
Meanwhile, Wayne Ellington is battling a right thigh contusion and rookie Ricky Ledo has only played in mop-up duty. The other two newcomers — point guards Shane Larkin and Devin Harris — have yet to play because of injuries.
Overall, it’s no surprise what the Mavs have gotten from Ellis, who leads the Mavs in scoring (21.9 points) and is averaging five assists per game. In addition, Calderon (10.5 points, 5.8 assists) and Dalembert (7.5 points, 6.6 rebounds) have supplied a steady hand.
But the play of Blair has been an eye-opener. Measured at a generous 6-7 and 260 pounds, Blair has thrived as a backup center when everyone he guards is taller than him.
“He is rebounding well for his size,” said Dirk Nowitzki, who averages 19.2 points.
“He is actually a good decision-maker with the ball. He is probably as good of a passer out of the [center] position that I have ever played with.”
As the Mavs open a three-game homestand at 7:30 p.m. Monday at American Airlines Center against the Philadelphia 76ers (5-6), they do so knowing that the off-season changes they made are already paying dividends. The Mavs also know they’ll get another boost from their newcomers when Larkin (ankle) and Harris (toe) return from off-season surgery.
3 stars not needed
Although Miami used this formula to capture the past two NBA titles, owner Mark Cuban doesn’t believe a team has to have three superstars in their prime — like the Heat’s LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh — in order to win a championship.
“I think you’ve got to have a good team and I think you’ve got to have people who have specific roles and they’ve got to fulfill those roles,” Cuban said. “But I do think that, rather than superstars, I think you’ve got to have people who are stars at specific things that they do.”
The Mavs, of course, beat the Heat to capture the 2011 title with 32-year old Dirk Nowitzki as their lone superstar in his prime.
Fatten it up
Starting with a three-game homestand Monday against Philadelphia, the Mavs see an opportunity to fatten their record.
After playing the Sixers, the Mavs will host Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets on Wednesday, and then entertain Utah on Friday before playing in Denver on Saturday.
“When you go home to play two or three games in a row, it’s a really important time,” coach Rick Carlisle said.