The most painful part of this 66-game season for the Dallas Mavericks begins this coming Tuesday when Deron Williams and the New Jersey Nets come to Dallas.
Back-to-back. (Day off.) Back-to-back. (Day off.) Back-to-back. (Day off.) Back-to-back-to-back.
The oldest team in the NBA will be playing nine games in twelve nights. To add to this craziness, the Mavericks will neither play two games in a row in the same arena nor two games in a row at home.
This stretch doesn’t necessarily have a high level of competition (only two teams with a record above .500); however, the frequency of competition makes the next few weeks just as difficult as their most recent 9-game stretch against such elite teams.
This year in particular, every team has an extremely brutal stretch at some point in time – usually revolving around their back-to-back-to-back.
Most teams, though, transition into the tough part of their schedule during the flow of the regular season. The Mavericks must come out of an extended break – when a lot of rest takes place – ready to hit the court hard.
Based on what Vince Carter said in a Jeff Caplan article for ESPNDallas.com, I feel confident this team realizes what they have coming soon to their plate.
“It all really boils down to how we play coming back after the break,” Carter said. “This first part is over, we’re where we are, but this is where it all counts, in my opinion, now after the All-Star break. Hopefully we come back out ready to go. Nine games in 12 days is brutal, but it happens.”
When the Mavs play the Nets on Tuesday at home, they need a big win to give this stretch a kickstart. Their opponent is one of the worst defensive teams in the league, which gives every Maverick the perfect opportunity to get his game going.
The peak of this stretch comes on March 5 when the Mavs take a trip to Oklahoma City to continue their budding rivalry with the Thunder. If they can win this game and even the regular season series at two a piece, it will be difficult to deem this stretch as unsuccessful.
As I have watched Brandan Wright play this season, I keep getting the feeling he brings nothing but good things to the court. Well, this hunch became a reality after checking John Hollinger’s most recent Player Efficiency Rating (PER) list.
To put it simply, this rating attaches a single number to each player in the NBA based on every one of his statistics. What is different about this than most ranking systems is it takes into account minutes played and the pace of the player’s team. If you want to learn more about Hollinger’s PER, ESPN provides a great explanation behind the calculations.
The league average for players begins at 15.00, and LeBron James holds the highest rating ever (27.34).
So, what player currently has a better rating than Danilo Gallinari, Monta Ellis, Marc Gasol, Paul Pierce and Carmelo Anthony? That’s right – the Mavericks third-string center.
Brandan Wright currently holds a 20.09 rating – only one point less than Dirk’s rating – and has the 36th highest PER in the entire league. Wright easily has the lowest minutes per game average (13.1) than any other player in the top 50 in regards to PER.
Not only does Wright excel in Hollinger’s PER, #34 also doesn’t put up many ill-advised shots. To qualify to be a field goal percentage league leader, a player must be on pace to make 300 field goals. Since Wright doesn’t get heavy minutes, he isn’t on pace to put in this many shots. However, if you take away this pace, Wright is tied for the second best field goal percentage in the league (58.3%).
Aside from all these statistics, Wright clearly brings a great spark to this Mavs team. He might not be the main contributor off the bench, but he certainly plays his role perfectly. Next time any of you readers watch a Mavs game, pay close attention to Wright when he gets in the game. What you’ll realize you’re watching is an efficient, up-and-coming big man that the Mavericks must hold on to during this next off-season when they will (once again) inevitably change many pieces. Deron Williams and/or Dwight Howard have a possibility of coming to the Mavs, and if stardom does end up joining Dirk Nowitzki, there needs to be other quality teammates left around one or both of them.
Brandan Wright needs to be one of these teammates.
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