Deron Williams has thrived since returns of Dirk, Bogut

Deron Williams has been the best pick-and-roll point guard in the NBA this season.

That’s a bold claim to make, of course, especially if you’ve watched any of what James Harden has done this season in Houston, or what Steph Curry does every night, and the list goes on. There are a lot of terrific point guards in the league right now, and offenses rely more than ever on the spread pick-and-roll to generate points, and they are doing it efficiently — so efficiently, in fact, that the league has taken notice.

But yep, Deron Williams is the most efficient of them all to this point.

The Mavs point guard is creating 1.177 points per possession this season in possessions deriving from the pick-and-roll, per Synergy Sports. (In other words, when a possession begins with a pick-and-roll involving him as the point guard, and ends when either he or someone else shoots as a direct outcome of the play.) Of the 122 players in the NBA with at least 100 such possessions, Williams’ 1.177 PPP mark ranks at the very top of the list, and the gap between Williams and second-place Tony Parker, 0.079 PPP, is larger than the gap between second and 17th place.

Williams has long had a reputation for being one of the best pick-and-roll point guards in the NBA. But what about this season is so different? How has his efficiency taken such a huge leap, up to 1.177 points per possession this season after just 0.932 last season?

Part of it has to do with his increased comfort level in general. This is the first season he’s played for the same head coach in two straight seasons since 2010, during his days with the Utah Jazz. Health could very well have something to do with it, as well. But any time you’re taking a point guard’s numbers into consideration, you must also consider the personnel around him. Are there shooters? Quality big men? Good spacing? All of those factors can make a significant impact on that player’s effectiveness. In the Mavs’ case, particularly since the returns of Dirk Nowitzki and Andrew Bogut, Williams’ club has been able to check off every box for him. All he’s had to do is make the right decision.

Dirk Nowitzki’s nearly full-time switch to the center position has further opened up the offense. For nearly 20 years, he’s been a floor-spacing menace to opposing defenses, able to dictate the coverage simply by standing still on the wing or atop the arc. Until this season, though, he was doing it as a power forward almost 100 percent of the time. This season, however, nearly half his minutes have come at the 5, per Basketball-Reference.

What does that do for the offense?

Pulling a center 25 feet from the rim is like sticking a point guard down on the block: It makes him uncomfortable. No disrespect to the defense, of course, but it puts the offense at an overwhelming advantage to space the floor with good 3-point shooting at every position and then isolate the center in space. This is Tyson Chandler, still one of the top interior defenders in the league. But on the perimeter, he’s helpless against the Williams/Nowitzki 1-5 pick-and-roll.

That’s Mav-on-former-Mav crime right there. Chandler knows better than just about anyone how dangerous Nowitzki can be on the outside if left unguarded. Devin Booker slid over to contest the shot as best he could, but at 7 feet tall, the German wasn’t bothered.

Naturally, after seeing something like this on film, a center will think it’d be best to simply hug Nowitzki — as another former Dirk ally, Zaza Pachulia, does below — and hope someone else can stop Williams’ drive. The only problem, though, is typically when a guard penetrates, it’s the center’s job to contest. By pulling him from the lane, there’s no one to stop dribble penetration from reaching the rim.

This is playing in huge amounts of space, but Dallas can condense the floor to present even more difficult decisions for a center. In the play below, Nowitzki is the power forward but is guarded again by Chandler. Watch what happens as he sets a ball-screen for Williams and then back-pedals to the free throw line.

Chandler’s instincts, as well as basic defensive philosophy, tell him to abandon Nowitzki to stay in front of Williams. To hug Nowitzki here is to surrender a layup, guaranteed. There is simply not enough time for any other player to help against Williams’ drive. But Nowitzki escapes unguarded and disregarded to the mid-range, where he’s hit thousands and thousands of jumpers in his career. There’s no solution for the defense, either. If P.J. Tucker rotates too quickly to Dirk, Harrison Barnes will be all alone on the wing for an open 3.

The Mavericks have shown they can open the floor up even more than this, however. The higher the screen, the more space there is underneath for Williams to roam, and the greater the strain on the defense to scramble.

In the play above, Nowitzki sets his screen near midcourt. Williams then sprints toward Dragan Bender, Nowitzki’s defender, and puts him on his heels. Brandon Knight thinks he’s out of the play for a split-second, then briefly plays the passing lane, then finally catches up to Williams. By then, Nowitzki is comfortably standing 18 feet from the rim waiting for the pass.

That play above is the future of the NBA, in my opinion. James Harden already utilizes extremely high screens to get up to full speed by the time he’s reached the 3-point arc. As more and more athletic players reach the NBA, they’ll be able to cover more ground in fewer strides, so why not pull the pick-and-roll out to 40 feet instead of 30? (I don’t envy defenses.)

Andrew Bogut has shown, though, that you don’t need to set a screen 40 feet from the basket just to create an easy jump shot. Rather, all you need to do is set a monster screen and remove one defender from the play.

It doesn’t get much easier than that in the NBA.

Nowitzki and Bogut aren’t the only options in the pick-and-roll. Dwight Powell has scored 1.152 points per possession as a roll man this season, with that number trending upward. Harrison Barnes, meanwhile, has scored a ridiculous 1.246 PPP in 61 possessions as a roll man. He’s 33 of 55 from the field — yes, 60 percent — in those situations, with nearly all of them coming on jump shots, not dunks. The fade to the corner has become a favorite of his. He’s 20 of 34 on no-dribble jumpers in the pick-and-pop, per Synergy.

And things become unfair when the Mavs use both Barnes and Nowitzki in combination to set a double-screen, otherwise known as a drag screen, at the top of the arc.

Williams dribbles horizontally, parallel to the baseline, leaving it up to the Suns defenders to commit to one thing or another before making his move. Marquese Chriss initially switches off Barnes to slow Williams’ attack, but he’s under the impression that Eric Bledsoe will eventually get back over to help him. Bledsoe can’t leave Barnes open, though, and we already know there’s no way Chandler is leaving Dirk, which means once Chriss leaves Williams alone, he’s got a wide-open 3-pointer.

Williams was 4 of 5 from deep last night and is shooting 43.1 percent from beyond the arc in his last 12 games. During that time he’s scored at least 20 points six times and has dished out at least eight assists five times, including 12 last night.

There’s never been a question about Williams’ ability to read the defense and distribute the ball. Similarly, there’s never been a question about Nowitzki’s ability to shoot open jumpers. Bogut has been one of the biggest screeners in the league for a decade. Barnes has answered every question about his game and then some this season. So, naturally, when those players pair up, good things will tend to happen.

In Williams’ case, he’s been better at what he’s doing than anyone else in the NBA this season.

Mavs defense plays historically well in 86-75 win vs. Milwaukee

They’ve said it basically ever since the end of last season: If the Mavs are going to win games, they’re going to do it with defense.

And Sunday night we finally saw what they meant.

Dallas limited Milwaukee to just 75 points in an overtime game, the fewest the team has allowed in a game that goes to extra time in franchise history. The Bucks scored just one point in overtime, also a Mavericks franchise record.

“We just got stops,” said Harrison Barnes, who scored a career-high 34 points as well. “Everyone across the board — Justin, Wes, J.J., Dorian and Bogut. We just had everyone coming in and helping us get stops. I think that really is what allowed us to just grind away.”

Simply put, the Mavericks turned last night’s contest into a halfcourt affair. The Bucks have the athletes to push the tempo and play back-and-forth basketball, but Dallas did not allow them to. Of Milwaukee’s 100 possessions, just 10 of them came in transition, per Mavs analytics. And on the Bucks’ 90 halfcourt possessions, they scored just 63 points, or 0.70 points per possession. For the game, Dallas’ 71.2 defensive rating was a single-game best since a November 2014 win against Philadelphia.

“We had a plan, we stuck to it, and then we got down early,” head coach Rick Carlisle said. “But we stayed the course, we stuck to it, and we wanted to make these guys have to beat us in the halfcourt. These games get very physical and a little ugly, because it’s hard to get shots. But in our situation right now, this is what we’ve got to do to give ourselves a win.”

There’s a precedent in place for the Mavs to find success in these grind-it-out kinds of games. Dallas was 22-8 last season in games played at a pace of 95.0 possessions per 48 minutes or slower, per NBA Stats, and last night’s tilt was played at a crawling 92.63 poss/48, the second-slowest game of the Mavs’ season.

The Mavericks believe their halfcourt defense is stout enough to withstand almost any opponent, and their defensive numbers in those situations have been on the upswing as of late. Dallas now has the 13th-best defense in terms of efficiency in the halfcourt, according to Synergy Sports, at 0.895 points per possession allowed. Meanwhile, the Mavs rank 28th in transition defense. It’s vital that this team dictates the tempo.

One source of the team’s success last night was rookie Dorian Finney-Smith, who played more than 31 minutes in what was essentially his NBA debut. Before Sunday, the 23-year-old had zero points and one rebound to his name, but by the end of the contest he forced Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo into an off-balance fallaway to win the game in regulation.

Maybe the Greek Freak was going to take a step-back all along. Or maybe Finney-Smith forced him into a shot he didn’t want to take, simply by staying patient. “Just keep the ball in front of me, don’t foul, and contest the shot,” the Mavs rookie said after the game, walking through his thought process on that final play. “I did a great job, he missed the shot, and it forced overtime.”

All together the Mavericks allowed just 53.2 points per 100 possessions when Finney-Smith played on Sunday, per NBA Stats. And this came in his first meaningful minutes as a pro. Not bad for a first impression.

Another was center Andrew Bogut, who put together his most effective performance as a Maverick, scoring just two points but grabbing 16 rebounds and drawing two charges. Through Sunday’s games, no one in the NBA had drawn more charges than the first-year Maverick.

“I think that discourages them, takes them out from what they want to do,” Bogut said. “And if we can clog the lane up and just make things tough defensively, it’s kind of like a pinball effect, where every time they come in the lane they get hit by someone, contested at the rim, or someone’s taking a charge. It gets annoying to play against a team like that after a while.”

Charges also result in a turnover, and Dallas forced plenty of those on Sunday. Milwaukee gave it away 27 times, tied for the most by a Mavs opponent since March 2004. The club is 16-4 when forcing at least 20 turnovers since the beginning of the 2014-15 season, per Basketball-Reference.

If the Mavericks continue defending the way they did against the Bucks, they’ll quickly become a very annoying opponent. And that’s exactly what they want to be.

Rick Carlisle voted league’s best at making in-game adjustments

A coach is a motivator, but also a thinker. And no one in the NBA — if you ask the GMs, that is — plans, executes, and shifts strategy better than Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle.

The franchise’s all-time wins leader was voted the head coach who makes the best in-game adjustments in NBA.com’s annual GM survey, earning 41.4 percent of the vote, and edging San Antonio boss Gregg Popovich (31.0 percent) and Boston’s Brad Stevens (13.8 percent). He was also one of six to receive votes for the head coach who runs the best offense, finishing tied for third with new Houston playcaller Mike D’Antoni.

If there’s anything we’ve learned from watching Carlisle work over the years, it’s that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to win a game, even if it means benching stars or calling on the deepest reserve to make an impact. His mantra of “stay ready” has motivated backup players to work hard no matter the playing time he’s been receiving, because he could always get a chance in the next game, depending on the circumstances. For example, Salah Mejri had barely played an NBA minute last season before entering late in the game at home against Oklahoma City, but he went on a shot-blocking rampage and led a charge to help the Mavericks turn a double-digit deficit into a one-shot game.

Carlisle also finished second in the best head coach in the NBA category, with Popovich receiving 83.3 percent of the vote. Carlisle earned 13.3 percent. The Mavs’ head caoch had finished second to Popovich in the in-game adjustments category every year since 2011.

Mavs names pop up elsewhere in the survey. After being named the league’s top international player every year but two since 2004, Dirk Nowitzki (22.4 percent of the votes) was surprisingly voted third-best behind Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo (27.6 percent), a first-time winner, and Memphis’s Marc Gasol (24.1 percent). Nowitzki finished second to Gasol in voting last season, but the Spanish center suffered a significant injury which prematurely ended a terrific season. Nowitzki, meanwhile, averaged a team-high 18.3 points to go along with 6.5 rebounds per game, one of the best seasons by any player his age in NBA history.

Antetokounmpo, also known as “The Greek Freak,” is still just 21 years old, but GMs and fans alike are captivated by his athleticism and potential. At nearly seven feet tall, Antetokounmpo began playing point guard for the Bucks toward the end of last season and could continue those duties in 2016-17. He averaged 16.9 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game for Milwaukee. All that’s missing from his arsenal is a reliable 3-point shot; he’s just 28.0 percent from beyond the arc in his career.

Fellow international player Andrew Bogut appeared on the list, but in a different category: most underrated player acquisition. He received 10.3 percent of the vote, finishing third behind George Hill to Utah (24.1 percent) and Jeff Teague to Indiana (13.8 percent). That pair finishing 1-2 in the voting is interesting because they were essentially traded for each other in a three-team deal involving Teague’s former team, the Atlanta Hawks.

Bogut is considered a top-flight interior defender and a very good defensive rebounder, and his passing skills have already dazzled Mavs fans just a couple weeks into preseason. The man he replaced at center, Zaza Pachulia, also received votes in the underrated acquisition department, as he’s now in Golden State with Bogut’s former team.

Andrew Bogut: Dallas already feels like home

No offense to the beautiful Bay Area, but Dallas has seemed to be a perfect fit for Andrew Bogut so far.

The veteran center already made a positive impression in his AAC debut earlier this week, when he recorded recorded 11 rebounds, three blocks, and three assists in only 16 minutes. But in a new NBA.com profile, written by Scott Howard-Cooper, Bogut said he fits in well here off the floor, too.

“From what I”ve seen so far I love it,” he tells Howard-Cooper. “It’s much more suited to me as a person. I like California. But Texas, just the people here and the mentality’s a little slower probably than California with the every-day helter-skelter life. Whereas here it’s a little bit different culturally, in a good way. I wouldn’t say California or Texas is better. For myself, it feels like just a cool city. I like it. There’s a lot of good places to go. I didn’t realize how big the Dallas-Fort Worth area is. There’s a lot to do here, a lot of good restaurants and good cafes, a lot of nice people.

“When I first got here I couldn’t believe how nice the people were. People who didn’t even know who I was, just talking. ‘Hello. How are you? How’s your day?’ when you go into a shop. You just don’t hear that anymore. I guess it’s kind of that Texas mentality. I tweeted about it and some people were like, ‘You’re crazy, it never happens,’ but I experienced the first three, four days I was here. People were very nice to me. If I can be here long term, yeah, I’d love to.”

The thing which immediately jumps out the most from Bogut’s quote is he’s already looking forward to the possibility of playing in Dallas beyond this season, the last on his current contract. There’s still a long, long way to go until next summer, and a lot could happen between now and then with both parties. But everyone in the Mavs organization has had nothing but good things to say about Bogut, so it’s good to see the Australian center reciprocate those feelings already.

Give the rest of the feature a read, as well, here.

Big men play huge in Mavs win against OKC

Highlights: Mavs vs. Thunder

Dwight led the team with 16 points and Dirk made his preseason debut as the Mavs defeat the Thunder 114-109 Tuesday night.

While more eyes were on Dirk Nowitzki in his preseason debut, the Mavs’ other big men ended up stealing the spotlight in Tuesday night’s 114-109 win against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Andrew Bogut, Dwight Powell, and A.J. Hammons combined for 28 points, 23 rebounds, and four blocks in the win, each playing in his own style and to his own strength during his time on the floor.

The Mavericks are still working every player into the mix — last night both Nowitzki and Devin Harris debuted, but Wesley Matthews and Seth Curry both sat out for precautionary reasons while Quincy Acy and Salah Mejri missed with injuries — but if the win against the Thunder showed anything, it was that the Mavericks could be a much different team at the center spot this season. And, perhaps, much-improved as well.

Cue the highlight reel.

Andrew Bogut

Bogut was phenomenal in his first home action as a Maverick. He scored only four points on 1-of-5 shooting, but he tallied 11 rebounds, three blocks, and three assists in just 16 minutes. His scoring won’t be as integral an ingredient to this team’s success as his court vision and passing will be, anyway. Bogut reads the floor like a point guard and is capable of delivering passes at a variety of angles to set his teammates up.

Here he finds Harrison Barnes on a cut from the elbow.

The geometry of that play prevented Bogut from delivering a leading pass to Barnes, so instead the center opted for the basketball equivalent of a back shoulder fade. All Barnes had to do was collect the pass, spin, and go up. (Barnes has been very effective moving off the ball so far this preseason.)

Bogut also appears to have the green light to bring the ball up the floor on occasion, which led to this gem of a pass to a backdoor-cutting Devin Harris.

And this no-look, between-the-legs pass to Deron Williams is equal parts style and substance.

It’s fancy, sure, but the ball hits Williams in stride and sets him up for an open 3-pointer, at the same time allowing Bogut to remain in position to set an immediate screen on Williams’ man to give him even more space. That’s a useful pass, one Bogut said he added to the toolbox after playing with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson for so many years in Golden State.

But Bogut also played terrific defense, blocking three shots and controlling the paint against a tough assignment, OKC center Enes Kanter. The Thunder scored only 72.2 points per 100 possessions when Bogut was on the floor, per NBA Stats, and the team maintained only a 30.3 effective field goal percentage when the Australian played. That’s not a sustainable number, of course, but some of that struggle came as a direct result of Bogut’s interior presence. Mavs fans are about to understand just how good a player Bogut is.

Dwight Powell

The same could be said for Dwight Powell, as the young big man has continued his impressive preseason. He scored 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting against the Thunder and grabbed seven rebounds, his second consecutive game with 15+ points and 7+ rebounds.

Last season Powell played a ton of center minutes toward the beginning of the season, but as the campaign wore on he spent more of his time at power forward. So far in the exhibition season he’s played both positions again, but he’s appeared much more effective at the center spot than he did in 2015-16.

He’s performed in the vertical game, throwing down a standard alley-oop dunk against the Thunder along with this, um, unconventional one from J.J. Barea.

There’s no question Powell can excel as a finisher in the lob game, but his biggest area of improvement heading into the offseason had to be developing his mid-range jump shot, and so far he’s reliably knocked it down.

Why is that such an important element to his game? It makes the defense respect his jump shot, of course, but particularly when Powell is at the 5, it unlocks a totally new aspect to his game: putting the ball on the floor and attacking closeouts. Slow-footed centers simply cannot keep up in space with a player as athletic as Powell, so if he can continue to knock down the jumpers and then mix in some dribble moves once in a while, he can become one of the more dynamic centers in the league.

Powell has the physical makeup and athletic ability to have a super-efficient season, a la Brandan Wright during his time with the Mavericks, and if he continues to hit the mid-range jumper, he could become one of the premier backup big men in the NBA very quickly.

A.J. Hammons

This was easily Hammons’ most impressive showing of the exhibition season to this point, as the rookie big man scored eight points, grabbed five rebounds, and blocked one shot. Each of his four buckets came on jump shots, one of which was almost a fallaway in the mid-post. Hammons had an advanced offensive skill set, particularly on the block.

Where he’s really shined so far, however — and where he can separate himself at this level — is in the mid-range game. He has an easy jump shot and has demonstrated he can stretch his range out to as far as 22 feet with relative consistency.

Hammons is a true 7-footer and already possesses a soft touch on the inside and a pretty jumper from the outside. One wonders if he can expand his range to the 3-point line sooner than later — after all, in the last shot in the above highlight, his heels were on the line at the top of the arc. The Mavericks always want their centers to perform more in the pick-and-roll than in the pick-and-pop, but if the 24-year-old Hammons is eventually able to do both, that’s even better. That’s what makes him such a tantalizing offensive prospect.

The thing all three of these centers have in common is they can finish on the inside, but they can also all position themselves 20-25 feet from the basket and succeed. Bogut’s passing and Powell and Hammons’ shooting ability gives the Mavericks the luxury of playing 5-out basketball whenever they want, meaning all five players are on the perimeter. That leaves what feels like miles of space for the opposing defense to cover, all without a center to protect the rim because he’s pulled out to the 3-point line. Combined with the unprecedented effect Dirk Nowitzki has on opponents’ spacing, the Mavericks could potentially have more space to work with on offense than any team not named Golden State.

It’s still obviously very early, though, and those are steep claims no make. There’s no guarantee Powell will continue to make half his mid-range jumpers, even if they’re all basically wide-open. The rotation at center is set to change at least a bit, too, once Mejri returns to action — which should be soon, per Rick Carlisle — but Mejri is imposing at the rim on both ends of the floor, so the Mavs will happily sacrifice just a bit of spacing if it leads to dunks. But for a team whose biggest area of need this summer was center, the Mavericks appear to have turned a weakness into a significant strength.

Watch Andrew Bogut drop dimes against Lithuania

Andrew Bogut and Australia defeated Lithuania 90-64 in Wednesday’s Olympic quarterfinals, and now the Boomers advance to the semis, seeking the country’s first-ever medal in men’s basketball.

Australia has looked superior to every opponent it’s played so far in the Olympics, with the lone exception of the United States, the only country to defeat Bogut’s team so far in Rio. On opposite sides of the bracket, however, the Boomers wouldn’t encounter the U.S. again unless both teams advance all the way to Sunday’s gold medal game.

Bogut has looked phenomenal so far in Rio, averaging 11.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 4.4 assists in group play. On Wednesday against Lithuania, the center tallied six points but led the team with seven boards and six dimes, a couple of which really stood out. See below.

Not only is it impressive that Bogut, a 7-foot center, has the floor vision and passing ability to pull off such plays, but that talent will also help his coach and teammates. Rick Carlisle can design offensive sets similar to the ones above to get players like Harrison Barnes, Deron Williams, Justin Anderson, and Devin Harris going downhill toward the rim for easy finishes, which could open up the Mavs’ already well-spaced offense even further. Bogut isn’t a three-point threat by any means, but if the offense can flow through him 25 feet away from the rim, it can turn a defense upside down. Add Dirk Nowitzki into the mix, and that could really shift floor geometry in ways we haven’t seen around here in a while.

Because Bogut possesses such great vision and is a willing passer, plays like the ones above send a message to his future teammates: If they get open, he’ll find them. Sometimes players might not feel involved in a particular set, or maybe they won’t expect a pass on the weakside from a 7-foot center at the opposite elbow or, heck, the three-point arc. But with a guy like Bogut on the team, every player has the chance to receive a pass — if he’s willing to move to get open. And with so much space in the paint to take advantage of, the Mavericks could find plenty of opportunities to create easy points this way.

Nowitzki has developed into a very good passer over the years, but with Bogut in Dallas, there’s a chance the German might only be the second-best 7-foot passer on his own team. I don’t think he — or anyone else in Dallas — will be complaining about that, though.

After Australia nearly stuns U.S., Andrew Bogut still not satisfied

Mavs center Andrew Bogut’s message was clear as Australia prepared to square off against the United States: The Boomers weren’t afraid.

“Teams who ask the Americans to autograph their shoes are beaten before the game begins,” Bogut said, “but that’s not us, and we think we can win.”

The big man’s play backed up his words, as Australia came as close as possibly any other country will in this tournament, falling to the U.S. 98-88. The Americans trailed at halftime for the first time since the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Bogut finished with 15 points, three blocks, and three assists.

If Bogut’s quotes leading up to the game gave any indication of where his head is at in this Olympics — it’s not about keeping it close, it’s about winning — his post-game thoughts only further solidified that notion.

“We’re disappointed. We had every opportunity to try and push that game,” he said. “We still lost the game, it doesn’t mean anything. There’s no small victories — it’s either winning or losing, and tonight we lost. We’ve got some stuff to work on and we’ll go and do that.”

That’s not a quote coming from a player who was just happy to be there. On the contrary, Bogut sounds like a guy who wanted — and perhaps even expected — a better result, and the hard fouls and tense atmosphere suggested the Australians were not interested in capturing a moral victory. Not many other teams in the world ever assume that mentality against the United States, a team which for so long has been unrivaled on the international stage. Outside of the 2004 Olympics in Athens, the Americans have lost just twice in Olympics history.

This Australian team is different than most competitors, though. Led by Bogut, the Boomers’ roster is made up of gritty NBA veterans, including Matthew Dellavedova, Patty Mills, Aron Baynes, and Joe Ingles. This is a team unlike many others the Americans will face in Rio, as the roster is stuffed with quality NBA players. Through three games, Australia has emerged as a serious medal contender, and there’s a chance these two teams will meet again in the medal round.

Bogut has sparkled individually in Rio for 2-1 Australia, averaging 14.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 2.3 blocks per game in 24.5 minutes per game. (Yes, you read that right: 4.7 assists.) As high as the Mavericks are on Bogut’s ability as a rim protector and defensive anchor, he can be just as dynamic on the offensive end, not only with the threat he represents in the pick-and-roll game, but also with his floor vision and sharp passing. These are things that can translate directly over to playing with the Mavericks, as well.

You don’t need to squint too hard to be able to see Bogut connecting with Deron Williams, Seth Curry, or particularly Devin Harris with passes just like that one. The Mavericks are considered to have less conventional playmakers on this roster than they’ve had in years past, but one way to generate open opportunities is with good, smart off-ball movement around a fulcrum at the elbow — or, in this case, above the arc — and Bogut definitely has the ability to be that guy.

The Boomers have run a few nifty baseline out of bounds (BLOB) plays already in the Olympics. This one against the U.S. might have been the best of them all.

Bogut lulls DeAndre Jordan to sleep by pretending to wait to set a screen for a teammate. Then, when Jordan turns his head, Bogut makes his cut toward the basket. That play is all timing and misdirection. How can this apply to Dallas? The Mavs ranked third in the NBA last season in points per possession on BLOB plays at 0.994. Bogut is going to help keep them high on that list.

If Bogut continues to play at this level for Australia, the Boomers have a very solid chance at not only winning a medal, but also competing against the U.S. once again, only this time for a gold medal. He has been the defensive anchor of the second-best team at the Olympics, he’s scoring at will on offense, and he’s even distributing the ball better than any big man in Rio.

And if he can perform like this for the Mavericks, who knows? Dallas could be in position to make a nice little run for a medal of its own come next spring.