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Darren Collison averaged 10.4 points and 4.8 assists last season in 31.3 minutes per game with the Pacers.
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Mavs banking on new-look backcourt to stay relevant in West

By Fran Blinebury, NBA.com
Posted Oct 16 2012 2:27PM

Like most athletes who change cities, Darren Collison wasted little time trying to find out where to go in his new home.

The difference is he wasn't interested in restaurants or shopping malls or nightclubs. The Mavericks' new point guard wanted to know where he's supposed to go with the ball.

On the day after he was traded to Dallas, Collison was on the phone with the experts of the film room, asking for videos of his new teammates Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Chris Kaman, O.J. Mayo and Elton Brand.

"I have to learn where those guys like the ball," Collison said. "They'll adjust to me some. But it won't be much. It's my job to adjust to them."

For holdovers in the starting lineup -- Nowitzki and Marion, not to mention the entire Mavs organization -- it will be a season of big adjustments without the veteran mainstays of Jason Kidd and Jason Terry in the backcourt. While the 35-year-old Terry didn't often start, he usually finished games, and while the 38-year-old Kidd had lost some of his quickness, he was still the quarterback who could move the ball and the pieces around the court almost at will.

Collison and Mayo will give the Mavs an entirely different look at the guard spots in a season when coach Rick Carlisle says he wants to call fewer plays from the bench and at the same time increase the tempo of his offense.

"My ongoing goal is to call less or no plays if we can," he said. "We want our guys to make plays, not call plays.

"Philosophically and categorically that's where I stand with it. You're going to have to call plays at crunch time and after timeouts, but I want our system based on simplicity and counters and guys knowing which counters are there and act or respond appropriately. Not having 75 plays that each have five options. That's too confusing. With a team with eight new guys simplicity, hard play, efficient play, all those things are going to carry the day."

Carlisle especially liked the interest and the initiative shown by Collison in requesting the video breakdowns on his teammates.

"If you've got a guy in a trade and project him as a possible starter and he starts off that way, that's pretty exciting," Carlisle said. "From a basketball IQ and a leadership standpoint, he's the kind of guy if you've got any chance at all to replace a guy like Kidd, he's the kind of guy you want to take a mold from."

Despite his three years of NBA experience and general familiarity with his new teammates, Collison is now getting a different view.

"When you're playing against them, you don't see as much as when you're on the team," he said. "Then when you watch film, you say, 'OK, he can do that.' "

The 6-foot Collison won't pretend to possess the same skill set as the future Hall of Famer Kidd or the free agent of the Mavs' dreams, Deron Williams, who chose to re-sign with the Nets instead. Yet he doesn't back down from the challenge of being the man in charge of the offense.

"I don't believe in pressure and I don't get into that," he said. "I also think in the NBA you've got to be your own player. Deron Williams is a good player and I'm pretty sure Mavs fans would love him to come here. But I'm my own player. I have a job here and that's to win and make this team successful.

"I have a great deal of respect for J-Kidd and what he brought to the table, the way he motivated guys off the court and made sure everybody was involved. As a player, we're kind of similar. No disrespect, but I'm in my younger days and I can bring some quickness to the team and some energy. Jason Kidd was able to do that in spite of his age and still be successful. I can do it in other ways with quickness and energy and picking up full-court defense.

"It can be effective. Whether you're giving the ball up and guys are scoring layups in 3-5 seconds or you're dribbling down in 3-5 seconds, I think it's all effective. I think the biggest thing is up tempo. We've got to be a more up-tempo team and I think that's going to be our biggest goal this year."

Collison compares Nowitzki's post-up game to that of David West, whom he played with for one season in New Orleans and last year at Indiana.

"They are both very good post players, but, of course, Dirk has much better range. He kinda gets himself going ... so it's going to be easy."

Two seasons after winning a championship, only four holdover players remain on the roster and now with the new guard combo of Collison and Mayo, there are questions about where the Mavs will fit into the hierarchy of an improved Western Conference.

"Nobody knows what to expect," Collison said. "Personally, I think our ceiling is high. We're trying to become the backcourt for this organization for a long, long time.

"Everybody is anticipating what will happen and that's fine. If I was in their shoes, I'd be doing the same thing, too. But we know what we can do. It's exciting for me to put on a Mavs jersey. It's a great opportunity for me and the rest of my teammates. That's why I wanted to find out as much as I could about this team."

So he went straight to the video and gave it two thumbs up.

Three Points

1. After striking out in the Dwight Howard Sweepstakes, the solid Chris Kaman might not be a bad consolation prize in the middle.

2. Following a frustrating stay in Philadelphia, Elton Brand's return to the Western Conference could pay big dividends for the Mavs.

3. Who can consistently buzz the tower with instant offense and fearless late buckets now that "Jet" Terry has lifted off for Boston?

Fran Blinebury has covered the NBA since 1977. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

AT A GLANCE

LAST YEAR: 36-30, 3rd in Southwest

FINISH: Lost in first round of playoffs

2011-12 Regular Season Standings

2011-12 TEAM LEADERS

Dirk Nowitzki

21.6 PPG

Shawn Marion

7.4 RPG

Jason Kidd

5.5 APG

2011-12 STATISTICS

 OFFENSEDEFENSE
PPG95.894.8
RPG42.843.9
APG20.920.5
FG %0.4430.435
3PT %0.3390.346
FT %0.7710.750
 Complete 2011-12 Stats 
STARTING FIVE

DARREN COLLISON, POINT GUARD

10.3 PPG | 3.1 RPG | 4.8 APG

With his third team in four seasons, now all Collison has to fill Jason Kidd's role and make a Mavs offense filled with new parts run smoothly.

O.J. MAYO, SHOOTING GUARD

12.6 PPG | 3.2 RPG | 2.6 APG

Nobody needed a change of scenery more than Mayo. A move to Dallas, as well as a full-time starting gig, could pay off big for he and the Mavs.

SHAWN MARION, SMALL FORWARD

10.6 PPG | 7.4 RPG | 2.1 APG

After steadily declining in the rebounding department the last two seasons, Marion increased his board work and remains a solid contributor.

DIRK NOWITZKI, POWER FORWARD

21.6 PPG | 6.7 RPG | 2.2 APG

Admittedly out of shape to start the season, Nowitzki saw his numbers dip across the board and, not surprisingly, Dallas struggled. He'll bounce back, though.

CHRIS KAMAN, CENTER

13.1 PPG | 7.7 RPG | 1.3 BPG

Kaman is not the Dwight Howard-type prize the Mavs sought. He is a former All-Star and remains one of the more-than-dependable defensive centers in the NBA.

RESERVES
NAMEHTWTPOSCOMMENT
Elton Brand6-9254FVeteran post man granted amnesty and chance to shine again.
Vince Carter6-6220GAt 35, former high flyer is earthbound and in decline.
Delonte West6-3180GLefty combo guard can be quite effective when healthy.
 Complete Roster 
OFFSEASON MOVES

ADDED: F Elton Brand, G Darren Collison, F Jae Crowder, G. Jared Cunningham, C Chris Kaman, G O.J. Mayo

LOST:  G Jason Kidd, G Jason Terry, C Ian Mahinmi, G Kelenna Azubuike, F Yi Jianlian, F Brian Cardinal

MAN ON THE SPOT

O.J. MAYO, SHOOTING GUARD

A major pickup this offseason by the Mavs, Mayo gets a new opportunity in Dallas, where his scoring will be critical. After becoming a force off the bench in Memphis the last two seasons, Mayo will more than likely return to the starting lineup.

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