With the Mavs locking in 4 of their 5 starters, Seth Curry should be considered for that last spot and here’s why.
This offseason, the Mavs had 2 guaranteed starters in KP and Luka with Dwight Powell being named another one after opting not to sign a center, which left 2 open starting slots. In Free Agency, they addressed one of these by adding Delon Wright as their new starting point guard, but the team is a little hazy on who should fill that 5th starter slot. There are several options floated, but one of the new (or old, depending on your view) options to start should be Seth Curry.
During a summer league play, Rick Carlisle told the Dallas Morning News that spot was open for competition and would likely feature one of Dorian Finney-Smith, Justin Jackson, or Tim Hardaway Jr. Each of these players offer something unique to starting lineups (Dorian is a defensive stalwart, THJ is high volume offense and Justin Jackson is little of both), but do any of them truly fit what the Mavs starting lineup NEEDS?
The Other 4 Starters
In assessing what is needed out of the 5th starter, it behooves us to look at what the other 4 provide and where they might be lacking.
Luka Doncic – Primary ball-handling duties, playmaking and outside shooting. Defensively a liability at this point, but solid rebounder.
Kristaps Porzingis – Outside shooting and pick and pop scoring. Defensive shot blocker and rangy help defense, but not a great rebounder for his position.
Delon Wright – Secondary ball-handler, crafty slasher, but missing a reliable jumper and an unproven 3 point shot. Defensively a rangy outside defender who can defend 3 positions and rebound.
Dwight Powell – Top 1% in pick and roll offense in the NBA, but a streaky low volume outside shot. Defensively smart, but average in both defending bigs and rebounding.
So what can be gleaned from this breakdown? These four have solid playmaking with Luka, KP and Delon, good pick and roll AND pick and pop offense, both average rebounding, and defense with good shot-blocking. The most glaring weakness is strong outside shooting and the Mavs just acquired a sharpshooter in Seth Curry…
Curry is a career 43.9% 3PT shooter who shot 45% for Portland last year (3rd best in the NBA) and 42.5% in his last stint in Dallas. With Luka’s ability to distribute, he needs scorers to excel and only has KP as a consistent outside shooter in Dallas’ starting lineup. Without another scoring threat to help spread the floor, teams will be able to double team Doncic, making him force plays rather than plays flowing through their star player. Seth can sit in the corner and wait for a long pass from Luka and knock it down 50% of the time, like he did last year with Dame in Portland.
Previously, Mavs Nation discussed the strength of the Mavericks bench unit of Brunson, THJ, Kleber, Curry and either Dorian or Justin Jackson here. There are several strong scorers in that grouping who would see limited minutes with Hardaway, Brunson and Curry as very capable scorers all vying to make an impact in 20ish minutes a night. One of those scoring threats could be moved to the starting lineup to keep the score close so that the second unit isn’t always just playing catchup. The Mavs have a scoring heavy bench and defense forward offense, so some balancing of the two might be in order.
It would seem, by his choices listed, Carlisle is looking for the opposite of small ball to start his games with the smallest player on the court being 6’5” in Delon Wright, with all the potential starters he’s considering all being taller than him. Seth Curry, however, is graciously listed at 6’2”. While Seth doesn’t fit the bill, height-wise, he would be the ONLY height impaired player on the floor and that is easier to hide than a team missing enough firepower.
Seth v Justin Jackson
It would seem that the 5th starter spot will most likely be dictated by matchups, which would slot Dorian in for extra defensive help, and THJ might start when outscoring the other team is the only option. However, Justin Jackson might be poised to break out in a way that makes him the most consistent wing starter by being a far more balanced 3 and D wing. Let’s see how Justin and Seth stack up to see if Seth truly has a shot.
Justin Jackson 7.2 pts, 2.6 rbs, 1.2 asts, 35.5% 3PT, 19.9 mpg
Seth Curry 7.9 pts, 1.6 rbs, 0.9 asts, 45.0% 3PT, 18.9 mpg
The numbers are strikingly similar outside of the nearly 10% difference in three-point percentage. Not to mention that Justin achieved his numbers on a 33-win Dallas team while Seth earned his with Portland on their way to the Western Conference Finals. Seth playing this well under pressure is the kind of experience this team needs to come out of the basement and return to contention.
Justin may have more upside with his youth, but Seth has a skill the teams needs NOW and lots of it. Justin can continue to grow and develop into a player that can take Seth’s spot when he’s ready.
It’s About Luka
The Mavs were 21st in points scored per game and 27th in overall 3 point percentage last season. For Luka to excel, he needs scorers around him that will hit their open looks. Seth Curry gives him the best option of all Mavs to increase his assist numbers by hitting 45% of his 3 point attempts. If Seth hits the 3 at that clip and KP hits anywhere near the 39.5% he hit during his 2017-18 All-Star run, Luka can certainly move up from the 25th position on the assist leader board. Spacing the floor is crucial to Carlisle’s system and is necessary for Luka and KP to have space to operate. If there aren’t enough scorers on the floor, teams can clog Luka up like they did after the All-Star break and stifle his sophomore season. With a shooter like Curry on the floor, Luka can continue his astronomic growth into the league’s next Superstar.
So if this season is truly about maximizing Luka and allowing him and KP to grow together, it would seem that Seth Curry fits into a starting role and offers a skill that no other Mavs player can.
Luka and KP are the focus, but surrounding them with a scorer who can shoot better than prized big fish Danny Green could seem to be as good a fit as the Mavs can ask for at the moment. Seth should start, let’s see if he does.
Featured Image: Caylor Arnold/USA Today Sports