Cram Session

Posted by Rob Mahoney on June 25, 2009 under Commentary | Read the First Comment

Just in case you wanted to do a quick survey of some of the prospects that may end up as Mavericks, here’s the full inventory of draft previews I’ve done in the last few weeks:

First Rounders:
Terrence Williams
Ty Lawson
Eric Maynor
Austin Daye
Jeff Teague
Patty Mills
Darren Collison
Marcus Thornton

Second Rounders/Undrafted Free Agents:
Curtis Jerrells
Bamba Fall
Chinemelu Elonu
Jeremy Pargo
Kevin Rogers

Other notable draft posts:
Why trading the 22nd pick hurts (“Waiting for Terrence“)
The Mavs swapped the 22nd pick in the draft for the 24th and the 56th (“There’s No News Like Draft News“)
Terrence Williams speaks (“Sugar Plum Dreams“)
Possible targets for moving up in the draft (“When Taking a Shot in the Dark, Aim Up“)
Combine interviews (“Saying All the Right Things, and Seeing Some of the Right Numbers“)
Life in the late first round (“Looking for Love in All the Wrong Draft Ranges“)

Also, remember to stop by for the huge draft liveblog, which will actuallyget kicking at 4 PM CST.  It’s a marathon people, so load up on carbs, bring the gatorade, and remember to stretch.  Godspeed, MFFLs.

They Smell Like the Future: Terrence Williams

Posted by Rob Mahoney on under Commentary, Rumors | Read the First Comment

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images.

Louisville Senior
6′6”, 213 lbs. (Combine measurements)
Almost 22 years old
Shooting guard/small forward/point guard
Projection: Late lottery-late first round

Terrence Williams is the mad note.  I’ve raved and raved about this guy over the last few weeks, or practically ever since his draft stock began to fall.  He’s now, unfortunately, on the up and up, meaning the Mavs likely won’t even sniff him with the 24th pick.

You’ve likely already read many of the reasons why I think Williams should be the guy if he does happen to slip in the draft tonight, but I still have a bag full of superlatives.  Above all else, I think Williams is a supremely valuable player because his ability to impact the game without scoring is just about unparalleled in this draft.  He’s likely to be the best defender at his position, is certainly one of the best ball handlers and distributors at his position, and his rebounding and toughness are top notch.  Terrence Williams is an athlete, and he just so happens to be one that fills a prominent Mavs’ need.

Naturally, he’s not without flaws.  Williams is not a good shooter.  He’s not ideal from that standpoint because he won’t be able to spot-up in the corner or even pull-up in midrange.  His jumpshot is a work in progress, but it’s far from being NBA ready at this point.  To some, that might make him a liability on the floor.  But for a team that has fared well on offense with Antoine Wright and Erick Dampier playing significant minutes, Williams has to be considered a slight offensive upgrade.  Antoine Wright tries, and he tries damn hard every night.  I don’t mean to pick on the guy.  But his mediocre (putting it kindly) shooting stroke and inability to get to the basket consistently makes him a liability on offense.  Williams, on the other hand, is already a better defender than Wright, and supplements those skills with ball-handling and passing on the offensive end.

Terrence Williams is exactly what the Mavs need at this stage in the game: someone who can contribute immediately, and have a clear defensive impact.

Pro-Level Projections:

I’ve asked Jon Nichols of Basketball-Statistics.com to use his Box Score Prediction System (BSPS) to project career numbers for Williams.  The values given are career averages per 36 minutes, considering that per minute statistics at least partially eliminate variables such as abnormal playing time, lack of opportunity, etc.  The projections are based on Williams’ four-year career at Louisville.  For comparison’s sake, I’ve dug up some other players who have averaged similar numbers over their careers (click here for an enlarged chart):

(Note: the years indicated in the chart refer to the last year of the season played.  For examples, the 2004-2005 season will be marked 05.)

These comparisons make very little sense, given Williams’ position and size.  The closest comparisons turned out to be point guards with good rebounding numbers, which is a bit misleading given that Williams’ will likely play the 2 in the NBA.  Rondo is included for some slight similarities, but ultimately because the pickings were so slim.  This guy is a unique player.

We Like to Rock the Party

Posted by Rob Mahoney on under xOther | Be the First to Comment

Are you tired of watching the draft alone, in darkness, feeling hopeless and lonely?  Are you tired of venting to your significant other, pet, or Fathead?

Then share your ranting, snarking, and exasperated sighs on the TrueHoop Network collective’s massive joint live chat tonight.

I, myself, will be at the AAC Draft party, either finding a way to contribute via laptop or Twitter.  So stop by here, Hardwood Paroxysm, or just about any other blog in the TrueHoop Network at 4 PM CST to chat the day away.

They Smell Like the Future: Ty Lawson

Posted by Rob Mahoney on under Commentary | Read the First Comment

Photo by John Biever/SI.

UNC Junior
6′0”, 197 lbs. (Combine measurements)
21 years old
Point guard
Projection: Mid-late 1st round

It’s tough to pick apart Ty Lawson’s game.  Most of the counter arguments to claims of Lawson’s success to come in the NBA are largely circumstantial.  He’s a small point guard, but Chris Paul has shown that height doesn’t have to stand in the way of talent.  He did play for a fast-paced offense at UNC, but he’s hardly unique in that respect, and the pace doesn’t make the game tape any less impressive.  Ty Lawson will be a player, that much is certain to me.  Determining his true ceiling may be the more difficult part.

On one hand, you could see Lawson capping out relatively early.  His quickness is a huge advantage, but one that will be partially mitigated by quicker NBA defenders.  The 6’0” measurement, while hardly the stroke of death, poises him for an uphill battle on the defensive end.  There’s room for his shooting to improve, but by how much?  There’s room for growth as a playmaker, but will he embrace it?

I’m situated firmly in the other camp.  I think Lawson will be a great starter in the NBA, and though he may never snatch the highest accolades the league has to offer, he’s going to make some team very, very happy.

Lawson is a true point guard, albeit one who isn’t afraid to score.  One of the few things I consistently rag on Jason Kidd for is not necessarily his inability to score, but his lack of inclination.  He’ll get right to the rim for an open layup, and at the last second kick the ball to the corner for an Antoine Wright three.  It’s as if the part of his brain telling him to score has been poked and prodded with a javelin.  Lawson can’t match Kidd’s height, defense, or incredible courtvision, but he does combine some elements of Kidd’s skill set with a more natural ability and willingness to score.  Lawson is a better shooter coming out of college than Kidd was until the last few seasons.  He’s probably a better finisher around the basket than Kidd is now.  The Mavs don’t desperately need Lawson’s scoring ability, but they need a point guard prospect who can take care of all kinds of business.  Sometimes that will entail setting up his teammates, sometimes it will require taking it to the rack, and almost all the time he’ll have to dig in on the defensive end.

As far as “floor generals” go, it’s hard to do worse than Lawson.  He’s won on college basketball’s biggest stage as the snake head of one of the nation’s highest profile programs.  He’s got a very complete set of skills, and enough quickness to make you do a double-take.  Lawson isn’t the best point guard in the draft, but he doesn’t have to be.  He just has to be the right prospect at the right time for the Mavs, which is a distinct possibility if he falls to 24.

Pro-Level Projections:

I’ve asked Jon Nichols of Basketball-Statistics.com to use his Box Score Prediction System (BSPS) to project career numbers for Lawson.  The values given are career averages per 36 minutes, considering that per minute statistics at least partially eliminate variables such as abnormal playing time, lack of opportunity, etc.  The projections are based on Lawson’s three-year career at UNC.  For comparison’s sake, I’ve dug up some other players who have averaged similar numbers over their careers (click here for an enlarged chart):

(Note: the years indicated in the chart refer to the last year of the season played.  For examples, the 2004-2005 season will be marked 05.)

These are fantastic projections for Lawson.  With Ty’s improved shooting stroke, I can’t help but shake the feeling that he could pan out as a Jameer Nelson-type player.  All three of these comparisons have the makings of solid pros, which is exactly what can be expected from Lawson.  All three are also undersized even by point guard standards, and yet have little trouble turning heads with their talent and production.

Waiting for Terrence

Posted by Rob Mahoney on under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

I’ve made it perfectly clear that I believe Terrence Williams to be an ideal fit for the Mavs.  He’s a hellish defender, an excellent rebounder for his position, and a crutch for our point guard of the future.  I think he would easily be Antoine Wright and more.

Unfortunately, the Mavs aren’t Williams’ other suitor.  Terrence seems to have a guarantee, and based on the mutual interest from both parties, it’s a fair bet that said guarantee is coming from the New Jersey Nets with the 11th pick.  If not there, then perhaps with the Charlotte Bobcats at 12.  Williams seems to have climbed from within the Mavs’ range to clear out of sight, leaving us with little hope of seeing him in Maverick blue.

That said, there’s no harm in waiting.  There is some harm, however, in dealing down two spots in the draft with a team earmarking similar needs.

In college, Williams was a small forward.  He’s capable of playing that position in the NBA, even if he doesn’ t quite have the height to match the towers of that position.  And if he does, for one reason or another, slip ‘n slide all the way to the 22 spot in the draft, could you really see Portland passing up Williams in favor of Omri Casspi?  Casspi is 6’9”, but many of his strengths are things that Williams can easily replicate (strengths lists courtesy of Draft Express):

Essentially, Casspi’s strengths are eclipsed by Williams’.  Terrence also brings the added benefit of relieving ball pressure from Brandon Roy, and playing a point forward role with the second unit.  For a team that features Jerryd Bayless and Steve Blake as point guards, that’s actually a pretty decent alternative.

I’m not sure how high (or low) the Blazers are on Williams, but I do know this: if they’re on the clock with both still on the board, is it even possible that Portland passes up the superior, more versatile talent?

There’s No News Like Draft News

Posted by Rob Mahoney on June 24, 2009 under News | 3 Comments to Read

The Mavs have agreed to a deal in principle with the Portland Trailblazers, trading the 22nd pick in the draft for the 24th pick, the 56th pick, and a 2010 second rounder.

Chad Ford seems to believe that the Blazers have their sights set on Omri Casspi.  The Israeli wing may have caught the eye of the Sacramento Kings, who currently hold the 23rd pick.

Credit to the Mavs; this counts as activity.  If Casspi is indeed the guy for either Sacramento or Portland, then this deal isn’t likely to affect the Mavs’ options.  Casspi hasn’t been linked to the Mavs aside from a few rumors early in the process, mostly because he plays the same position as Josh Howard.  The Mavs are likely drafting for some combination of need and best talent available, and Casspi’s stock drops a bit with the Mavs because of that SF label.  He’s still a fairly intriguing prospect in my eyes, but this trade (if Ford’s buzz is indeed correct) seems to indicate otherwise.

So the gameplan going into the draft tomorrow is more or less the same: find a valuable starter, preferably one who can provide depth in the frontcourt, blossom into a starting shooting guard, or give a glimmer of hope at the point.  The trade does, however, allow the Mavs to take a shot at a second rounder.  There are some intriguing names that may fall to the second round (Nick Calathes, Patty Mills, Marcus Thornton, Wayne Ellington, Dionte Christmas), meaning the Mavs may have milked some real value out of their pick.

They Smell Like the Future: Eric Maynor

Posted by Rob Mahoney on under Commentary | 2 Comments to Read

Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images.

VCU Senior
6′3.25”, 164 lbs. (Combine measurements)
22 years old
Point guard
Projection: Late 1st round

Eric Maynor is not a sexy pick.  He’s seriously lacking in the star power department, he doesn’t have the intrigue of a Jeff Teague or the pedigree of a Ty Lawson.  In many regards, Maynor is an inferior prospect to the other point guards in the draft.  But with the Mavs sitting pretty at #22, Maynor’s starting to look like an awfully nice player.

One of the reasons why Maynor doesn’t have the buzz or the hype of other prospects is because he lacks the one defining, marketable characteristic.  Ricky Rubio: flash; Tyreke Evans: size; Ty Lawson: champion; Stephen Curry: shooter.  What is Eric Maynor?  Well, he’s a point guard.  He can score, he can shoot, he can make plays, and he can D up a little bit.  But he’s not the best shooter in the draft, nor is he the best playmaker, or the best defender at the point.  Considering where the Mavs are in this draft, expecting otherwise would seem unreasonable.

What Maynor lacks in singular excellence he more than makes up for in overall sturdiness.  While it may be difficult to pinpoint an aspect of the game in which he stands above all else, it’s also tough to single out specific weaknesses.  He’s merely an average defender, and his shooting could definitely improve.  But given what he can bring on the offensive end (playmaking, savvy, creativity, scoring), aren’t those acceptable shortcomings?

The key for everyone outside the top 5 (if that) in the 2009 draft will be to find bonafied players, guys who can fill their spot in a rotation, become a contributor, and not be a burden.  Maynor may be the patron saint of the safe pick.  There is no way that he’ll pan out as anything less than a solid back-up at point guard, which is likely what the Mavs would expect from a prospect with a bigger name.  He won’t lead your team to the promised land, but Eric Maynor may very well be the guy to lead an offense, night-in and night-out, for the next decade.

Pro-level Projections:

I’ve asked Jon Nichols of Basketball-Statistics.com to use his Box Score Prediction System (BSPS) to project career numbers for Maynor.  The values given are career averages per 36 minutes, considering that per minute statistics at least partially eliminate variables such as abnormal playing time, lack of opportunity, etc.  The projections are based on Maynor’s four-year career at VCU.  For comparison’s sake, I’ve dug up some other players who have averaged similar numbers over their careers (click here for an enlarged chart):

(Note: the years indicated in the chart refer to the last year of the season played.  For examples, the 2004-2005 season will be marked 05.)

J.J. Barea pops up as a comparison yet again, and this time it’s actually encouraging.  Maynor essentially has the attribute that Barea desperately needs to legitimize his run towards starterdom: height.  Would Barea not be a fine heir apparent if he had Maynor’s size?  The Kirk Hinrich comparison also seems kind to Maynor, effectively balancing out the Beno Udrih snipe.

For what it’s worth, Maynor is projected as having the highest FTAs of the lot, and the lowest turnovers.  His percentages are solid, and his projected assist numbers are about what you’d expect.

There’s nothing wrong with going with the “safe” pick, especially if its Maynor.  The Mavs desperately need their draft picks from this point forward to pan out, and going with a sure thing like Eric Maynor, while not trendy, may be a step out of the Nick Fazekas/Maurice Ager darkness and into the light.

That’s Okay, We Weren’t Interested Anyway

Posted by Rob Mahoney on under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

The Wizards reportedly dealt the 5th pick, along with Oleksiy Pecherov, Etan Thomas and Darius Songaila to the Wolves for Randy Foye and Mike Miller.  That means bye-bye to the talks of the Mavs moving up to 5, which is probably better news than you’d think it would be.

You don’t sell the farm for anything short of Blake Griffin in this draft, and even he isn’t quite capable of taking a franchise on his back.  Randy Foye and Mike Miller aren’t All-Stars, but that’s certainly a nice return for the #5 and some excess salary, which means the Wizards essentially completed their two primary objectives: obtain some additional veteran talent (ideally to fill the hole at the 2), and dump salary.  That Mavs couldn’t really create a package to rival Miller and Foye without packaging Jason Terry and Josh Howard together.  That’s not what you want with Dirk Nowitzki at this stage in his career, much less with Jason Kidd weighing his options in free agency.

A package centering around cap relief alone would clearly have been trumped in the open market, but don’t fret, Mavs fans.  The teams needs help, but making a gamble with the fifth pick (and make no mistake, there is plenty of risk in this lottery) isn’t a viable solution to the Mavs’ problems.  Making a trade for trade’s sake, while likely energizing the fanbase and creating some artificial buzz around the team, typically results in a rather hard fall back to earth.  I can’t see any of the incoming draftees making a significant different in the coming season, especially after weighing the Mavs’ outgoing assets.  Yes, that includes Erick Dampier.

Jumping Ship

Posted by Rob Mahoney on June 23, 2009 under News | 2 Comments to Read

Mavs assistant Mario Elie is reportedly heading to Sacramento, where he’ll be an assistant under new coach Paul Westphal.  Congrats to Elie, and a salute for him on the way out.

A Hardy Welcome

Posted by Rob Mahoney on June 22, 2009 under xOther | Read the First Comment

I’ve been slacking a little on the welcomes recently, so it’s time to shotgun it.  There are plenty of newbies hoppin’ on board the TrueHoop Network train, and it’s time to give them a nod:

Not to play favorites here, but Truth About It‘s Kyle Weidie and Cowbell Kingdom‘s Zach Harper are two of my favorite reads on the net.  If you’re at all interested in the goings-on of the Wiz or the Kings, I’d strongly recommend checking those two blogs out.

The rest of the network roster is filling out rather nicely, with Chip Crain and his crew at 3 Shades of Blue (Memphis Grizzlies) and Jim Del Favero and Warriorsworld.  A big welcome as well to relative newcomers Jeremy Schmidt of Bucksketball and Matthew Bunch of Hot Hot Hoops.  ‘Ello!