But the Mavericks are in the midst of their best playoff run in years despite a rotation made up primarily of guys well into their 30′s. And if the Spurs want to re-invent themselves as title contenders, they should ignore the prevailing narrative surrounding them and follow the blueprint the Mavericks laid out. It’s hard to over-emphasize the value of an athletic interior defender in the NBA. Not only in terms of his individual defense, but because of what he allows you to do with the rest of your roster: you can get away with playing a 38-year old point guard (Jason Kidd), a 33-year old shooting guard (Jason Terry) and a 32-year old power forward (Dirk) when you have an athletic shot-blocker at the rim to erase their mistakes. The player that immediately comes to my mind is Charlotte’s Tyrus Thomas. A super-athletic 6’9 215 forward with a 7’3 wingspan and a 34′ vertical, he’s steadily improved his game (and his jumper) since coming into the league as a raw 20-year old out of LSU. He certainly doesn’t fit the model of a "Spurs player", but he seemed to be turning a corner this year in Charlotte before going down with a knee injury.