Offensive Points Added: minus-88.76
Defensive Points Saved: 121.13
Total Points Added: 32.37
Offensive MVP: J.J. Barea (11.89)
Defensive MVP: Salah Mejri (58.23)
The Dallas Mavericks' second unit isn't filled with household names, but it has been quietly producing as the team digs itself out of an early-season hole. Even without Andrew Bogut, who was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in a deadline deal for Nerlens Noel, head coach Rick Carlisle has numerous defensive stalwarts to call upon.
Salah Mejri has been fantastic in small minutes, even if he's allowing 50.2 percent shooting at the rim, per NBA.com. His impact comes more from his constant desire to mix it up inside, as he's contesting a ridiculous 11.9 shots per 36 minutes and still finding time to hedge hard and recover against pick-and-roll ball-handlers.
Dwight Powell and Dorian Finney-Smith have also been commendable defenders in the frontcourt, even if neither should be left alone as the last man between the opposition and the basket.
"[Owner Mark] Cuban went on to say that Finney-Smith studies other teams’ offensive sets, neuroanalytics, and 'takes advantage of every tool that we have.' He also compared him to players like Marquis Daniels, Josh Howard, Shawn Marion, and Jason Kidd in the way he focuses on improving defensively," Doyle Rader wrote for Mavs Moneyball in December.
The improvement has just kept coming for the unheralded rookie.
Offensive stalwarts have been tougher to come by on Carlisle's bench; J.J. Barea is actually the team's only non-starter with an above-average score. But when so many different players can defend and give the bench a distinct identity, that's far less detrimental.
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