THE COLONY – The addition of center Nerlens Noel has positively impacted the Dallas Mavericks in several ways.
Most notably, his presence has made the Mavs’ pick-and-roll game more effective. And that has brought back the Mavs’ lob-dunk game which has barely been in existence this season.
"Even Salah (Mejri) caught a lob last night (against Memphis), so it’s been good for us with the spreading of the floor,’’ guard Devin Harris said. "Ideally that kind of sets a free place to run, and I think we’re starting the see the benefits of having roll guys and shooters on the back side.’’
All of that space Noel has helped create has, in turn, opened up better outside shots for Dirk Nowitzki, Seth Curry, Wesley Matthews, Yogi Ferrell, Harrison Barnes and whoever else is roaming the perimeter for the Mavs.
Never miss a local story.
"I think it’s going to open up our shooters a little bit more," said Harris, who signed hundreds of autographs Saturday at Nebraska Furniture Mart. "When we have a roll presence like that where guys (on the opposing team) have to react to it, you’ll see Dirk start to get a little bit more shots.
"Wesley, if he plays on Sunday (against Oklahoma City), will start to get more shots. And it allows Yogi and the other guys to get into the paint and make things happen.’’
In essence, Noel has enabled the Mavs to open up their offense more. That’s why the Mavs went out and secured the 6-11 center in a Feb. 23 trade with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Noel has scored 36 points, collected 35 rebounds and blocked five shots in his four games since joining the Mavs. He also is 15-of-26 from the field. In Friday’s 104-100 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, Noel scored 15 points, blocked two shots and snatched a career-high tying 17 rebounds.
"He’s been getting better with every day in our system and understanding what we expect out of him,’’ Harris said. "His energy, athleticism, he had some huge blocks at the rim last night.
"Defensively, he’s becoming more comfortable. And offensively we try to give him the ball at the rim and he’s done a better job finishing.’’