With no playoff berth unfortunately at stake this year, the Dallas Mavericks will continue playing the final four games of the regular season the way they’ve played the previous three games.
And that’s by giving a lot of minutes to their younger players so they can better evaluate them going forward.
The Mavericks were eliminated from the playoffs last Saturday when Portland defeated Phoenix. Since then, the Mavericks won a game in Milwaukee last Sunday, then lost in Sacramento on Tuesday and lost in Los Angeles to the Clippers on Wednesday to complete a five-game road trip.
Those three games consisted of the younger Mavericks players getting many minutes, sprinkled in with some minutes for the veterans. Then again, with the Mavericks missing out on the playoffs for just the second time in the past 17 seasons, the natural next move for their franchise is to examine how rookies Yogi Ferrell, Nicolas Brussino, Dorian Finney-Smith, Jarrod Uthoff and A. J. Hammons will respond during the regular season’s finals days.
That also holds true for youngsters such as Nerlens Noel, Dwight Powell, and Salah Mejri.
“I’ve really enjoyed the experience of No. 1, getting to know these all guys and, No.2, working with them,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said. “Our veteran guys have done a lot of great things to help these guys develop.
“We’re talking about Ferrell, Brussino, Finney-Smith, Powell is in the equation, Hammons. They’re going to get a good opportunity here these last four games.”
The experience with the younger players continues tonight at 7:30 at American Airlines Center when the Mavericks (32-46) host the San Antonio Spurs (60-18). That experience will likely include playing Brussino – a 6-8 small forward – some as the player running the offensive attack.
Brussino played some point forward in the game at Sacramento, and Carlisle was pleased with the results.
“From an understanding of the game perspective he can do it,’’ Carlisle said. “When athletic guys pressure him he’s got to adjust.
“There’s a chance we’ll see him at some point (forward) tonight. The important thing is that we continue to look at these guys.”
Owner Mark Cuban has already said 10-11 players on the Mavericks’ 14-man roster will return next season. So these final four games are very crucial from an evaluation standpoint.
“This experience has great value to their development and establishing their value to our franchise, so we’ve got to proceed the way we’ve been proceeding,” Carlisle said. “They’ve been doing some good things and we want to continue to see that.
“We’re going to err on the side of lower minutes for veterans the last four games and more minutes for the young guys. They need the work and our veterans need to finish this thing out strong and make sure their bodies are feeling good headed into the summer.”