Rajon Rondo to Dallas Mavericks: What it Means for San Antonio Spurs
By Jay Desai
Rajon Rondo has been traded to the San Antonio Spurs in-state rival, the Dallas Mavericks, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
Yahoo Sources: Boston trades guard Rajon Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks. http://t.co/yG36EIxAdE
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) December 18, 2014
The deal, which should become official later tonight, will send Boston Celtics All-Star Rajon Rondo to Dallas for forward Brandan Wright, guards Jameer Nelson and Jae Crowder, a 2015 first-round pick and a 2016 second-round pick.
The move gives the Mavericks an even more star-studded starting five as a lineup of Monta Ellis, off-season acquisitions Chandler Parsons and Tyson Chandler, and Dirk Nowitzki will now include the former University of Kentucky standout.
Although some may believe this move will significantly bolster the Mavericks offense, especially in efficiency, that may not actually be the case. Where the Mavericks really need the help is on the defensive side of the ball.
Dallas has been rolling since a 4-3 start to the season, 15-4 since, 19-8 overall, and this deal figures to provide an even bigger edge to a team with championship aspirations.
Rajon Rondo is an immediate upgrade at the point guard position for the Mavericks. Dallas’ starting point guard up to this point, Jameer Nelson, averaged 7.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 4.1 assists while shooting a poor 37.4% from the field. Nelson’s advanced numbers even supported his negative impact on the team with his poor 10.1 player efficiency rating.
Even the Mavericks back-up point duties have been underwhelming with Devin Harris coming off the bench to average 9.1 points and 4.0 assists.
Rajon Rondo should help to shore up Dallas’ point guard depth immediately. This season, in a year once again without other stars, Rondo has played well, putting up 8.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, and a league leading 10.8 assists. He will also provide some defensive help, averaging 1.7 steals on the season.
Dec 3, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Jameer Nelson (14) during the game against the Milwaukee Bucks at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Dallas won 107-105. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Although some may believe this move will significantly bolster the Mavericks offense, especially in efficiency, that may not actually be the case. Dallas is already a high-octane offense, evident by its league leading 110.1 points per game, second ranked assisted field goal percentage (53.7), and second ranked assist-to-turnover ratio (2.02).
Where the Mavericks really need the help is on the defensive side of the ball, specifically in points allowed per game where they are in the bottom third of the league. Dallas has been especially burned from deep where they are allowing 39.2% of opponent’s three’s to drop, the highest percentage in the NBA.
Since there will be much analysis in the coming days on Rajon Rondo’s trade in regards to the impact on the Dallas Mavericks, we will shift our conversation to the effect on the San Antonio Spurs.
With this move, many will now place Dallas above San Antonio in the Southwest Division, which is a fair argument considering the star power present in the Mavericks lineup.
However, there may be reason to think otherwise, especially considering the talent the Mavericks gave up to acquire the Celtics 2006 first-round pick.
Dec 15, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo (9) in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. The Celtics defeated the 76ers 105-87. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Dealing Jameer Nelson and Jae Crowder will not negatively impact the team. Rajon Rondo is a significant upgrade over a rapidly declining Nelson and Crowder has fallen out of favor recently, averaging a career low minutes per game this season.
Where the Rondo deal could end up hurting Dallas, and helping San Antonio, is in the frontcourt. By trading Brandan Wright, the Mavericks essentially gave up their only solid back-up down low.
Wright has eaten up a decent chunk of the bench minutes in Dallas’ frontcourt, averaging 18.7 per game. In those minutes, the former 2007 lottery pick has been fantastic, posting 8.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks. He has really blossomed into a nice player for the Mavericks since his coming, often being the first big off the bench for Dallas.
Now, with Wright gone, all that goes out the window. In a division full of frontcourt stars such as Tim Duncan, Anthony Davis, Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, and Dwight Howard, Dallas virtually has no depth down low.
Their options after Wright, Charlie Villanueva and Greg Smith, have each averaged less than five minutes per season. That isn’t really a good sign in a division as competitive as the Southwest.
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It’s not all bad news for Dallas though, Expect a lot of fast starts for the Mavericks, especially with their starting five being one of the best in the league now.
However, in the middle of games, and towards the end of the season, that frontcourt depth could loom large. The San Antonio Spurs should be able to use issues down low for Dallas to take advantage of games during the middle part of them.
The Mavericks might possess arguably the best starting five in the league, but, that’s no cause to worry for the Spurs. San Antonio’s depth should still rule the day against Dallas.
For now though, San Antonio fans will have to wait until Saturday to see the validity of that claim when the Spurs take on the Mavericks.
What kind of impact fo you think Rajon Rondo’s trade will have on San Antonio and the rest of the teams in the Southwest Division? Let us know in the comments!
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