Continuity and flexibility continue to best characterize the Mavericks this season. They have been able to neutralize inconsistent play to the tune of an 8-5 (62.5%) record. Luka’s been setting the NBA on fire while the seldom mentioned “Bench Mob” has been a source of scrutiny and ire.
Strength in Numbers
As a group, the Mavericks reserves are statistically among the NBA’s elite. They have thrived due to their increased & always changing numbers. The Mavericks have used nine different starting lineups in thirteen different games. Early indications suggest this is the new normal. After game eight Coach Rick Carlisle basically said get used to it, it’s just the way this roster is structured.
Mavs have used 6 starting lineups in 8 games. Rick Carlisle: “I’m open to getting something consistent, but … the way we’re structured, we’re probably going to need to be fluid and flexible. And the guys have handled it well. It’s not easy, I get it.”
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) November 9, 2019
While skepticism is warranted the unorthodox method has kept the team afloat in an ultra-competitive western conference. Right now the playoffs seem inevitable. Rick Carlisle has never been shy about utilizing backups and the potential match-up issues they bring. His ability to utilize each player’s strength is top-notch and understated and rated.
A Strategic Advantage
The Mavs bench rotation has fluctuated between four and seven players. With strategic focus centered around opponent match-ups, continuity and player health. One look at Boban Marjanovic minutes and the plan is clear. Bobi has played in only 5 of the teams 13 games yet when called upon he’s been productive on offense and disruptive on defense. This advantage was created by utilizing Marjanovic’s strength. Ensuring he is in a position to succeed rather than anchoring unrealistic expectations. Carlisle’s been doing this under the radar for years. He’s low-key a Sinsei at this point.
The positive yet much-maligned Courtney Lee has started two games this season. While Tim “Secure The Bag” Hardaway Jr. has yet to begin a single contest in the lineup. Opportunities to shave minutes will undoubtedly arise but why exercise that now? The Mavs entire roster is filled with interchangeable parts. That if deployed correctly cover their counterparts blemishes. Furthermore, through this robust rotation, the reserves are showcased to the league in the hopes of creating trade interest. All positives for a team is always willing to upgrade the roster.
Such ambitious methods are seldom adopted by elite NBA squads who generally depend on their top four to six players for a major production. The Mavericks and Rick Carlisle are probing this idea by allowing the games flow to dictate their rotation and even who closes the game. Kristaps Porzingis knows this first hand. In an eventual loss, he was benched due to an awful 1 – 11 shooting performance versus the Celtics.
Kristaps Porzingis I’m getting benched for crunch time in Boston: “Of course I want to be out there, but can’t blame him. I wasn’t having a great game. I’m all in for whatever is best for the team.” pic.twitter.com/RuZ3Hlp0UW
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) November 12, 2019
Although disappointing for the team and KP the incident serves as a learning experience. Through it, the Mavs can build a bond built on trust and establishing winning as the essential priority.
With the exception of two, focusing on the Mavs bench is essentially a review of the roster. This season Kristaps and Luka are the only Mavericks to start every game they’ve played. The “Bench Mob” is currently ranked in the top ten in both points (8th – 41.8) and minutes (5th – 20.6) per game. These figures only confirm the growing strength of the team’s bench.
Even in the crucial final quarter, the team is ranked fifth in bench points per game contributing 13.1 each contest. Many games are won & lost in the fourth quarter. So the fact Mavs reserves are excelling in the final frame only means Rick Carlisle trusts this team and so should fans.
The Mavericks bench is strengthened by this strategy of required preparedness but more importantly, it signifies winning is ALL that matters.
Stats: www.basketball-Reference.com www.NBA.com Twitter: @espn_macmahon Photo: Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images