Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Can Calderon-Ellis backcourt work?
By Joe Kaiser
UPDATE: Defensive concerns aside, there is some reason to be optimistic about what newcomers Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis will bring to Dallas -- at least for the first year of their multi-year deals.
While one statistic can't completely determine the value of a backcourt, even one designed to do just that like WARP (Wins Above Replacement Player), the Mavericks' new group of guards ranked surprisingly high on ESPN Insider Bradford Doolittle's list of the NBA's top 10 backcourts.
The Mavs ranked No. 8 with a combined WARP of 14.7, factoring in Calderon, Ellis and Devin Harris, to which Doolittle adds: "Dallas' all-new backcourt has a solid collective track record, if not a spot-free one with the addition of Ellis. We'll see how these players fit together as a tandem and in Rick Carlisle's system, but at least the baseline of production is there."
When Dallas settled on signing veterans Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis for its new-look backcourt after swinging and missing on the bigger name free agents, the moves were met with some skepticism. One big reason why? Their lack of defense.
Calderon and Ellis have always been known more for their offensive contributions than that of their D, and neither is getting any younger. Ellis will turn 28 shortly before the start of the season but is entering his ninth year in the NBA, and Calderon turns 32 next week. Adding to the concern is that if this backcourt pairing doesn't work out, the Mavs will be in a tough spot because both are signed to lengthy deals (Calderon's contract is for four years, Ellis' is for three). Here's ESPN Insider Kevin Pelton with more on why the Mavs have reason to be concerned about their new backcourt's defensive abilities.
Kevin PeltonD is a valid concern in new Dallas backcourt
"You can get away with one poor defender in the backcourt. Having two makes things exponentially more difficult, especially when one of them is a shooting guard who isn't big enough to crossmatch with small forwards. That's the problem Monta Ellis has presented throughout his career."