Friday, December 17, 2010

The Emancipation of DeShawn Stevenson

When the Mavericks shipped away Josh Howard before the All-Star game in Dallas earlier this year, the prized packages of the deal were of course Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood. Unfortunately, to many NBA scribes, Dallas had to take on DeShawn Stevenson and his fat contract, considering his usage. Stevenson hauled in over $3.8 million last year and exercised his player option for $4.15 million for this year. Sounds like a lot for someone who could barely score three points per game last year.

Fast forward to this year - Dallas is looking nothing special with a 3-2 start after a puzzling loss to Memphis and getting blitzed by Denver. From what we now know, Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry went to Rick Carlisle and pleaded for them to insert DeShawn Stevenson into the lineup. Weird, considering Terry was enjoying a good start shooting wise, and was the starter. But the team realized that the bench was lacking. Terry accepted his role as the sixth man once again and Stevenson was put into the lineup.

Great, now what?

How about a 50% 3PT percentage. Which is higher than his overall percentage of 48. Pretty shocking considering Stevenson's last three seasons shooting the three were horrendous: 32%, 17% and 27% respectively. This is all well and good, with the theory that Stevenson is now giving the starting lineup a little more of a defensive edge without losing the shooting pop from Terry. But I wanted to dig a little deeper. Like it is in baseball, defense is the hardest thing to classify with statistics in the NBA. All the NBA really has are the defensive stats of rebounds, steals, blocks and defensive rating. For me, I wanted to dig a bit because really, the eye test wasn't really passing Stevenson on the defensive level. I didn't think he was awful, but he did have a propensity of letting his man drive past him - only to be erased by the beauty that is Tyson Chandler.

In the digging I discovered the Stevenson's defensive rating is 107, which is actually three higher than Jason Terry's 104. I think this is more of Terry's improvement, as it's the lowest number Terry has posted in his career. Now, defensive rating isn't the be-all, end-all number. After all, Zydrunas Ilgauskas is fourth in the league in defensive rating and I’m pretty sure your little brother could spin him in a circle. It is a fair argument though, as I’ve wondered if Stevenson should be allotted more minutes.

I think the fairest way to look at the question is this: Stevenson’s biggest value to the team is hitting spot up three pointers while holding water until Terry enters the game midway through the first quarter. In games such as Wednesday against Portland, what good is Stevenson if he is 0-for-4 on threes? Especially since as mentioned above, his defense isn’t even significantly better than Jason Terry’s.

I think Dallas fans have to just be happy with what Stevenson is giving them in short bursts. Stevenson’s niche on the team is the type that can wear out if played too long. So, rule of thumb: if DeShawn is knocking down threes and doing this, upwards of five times a game (like he was against Utah last week) let him pay 20+ minutes, which he did with 21. If not? Keep Jason Terry in, wait for Roddy B and the Mavericks suddenly have a depth problem (the good kind) at the guard spot.

(Advanced stats courtesy of


Be our friend! Join The Rice of Passage Facebook page! 

Want to tell me how dumb I am? Follow my dumb thoughts? Then check me out on Twitter

No comments:

Post a Comment