Ladders Are Made to Fall

Posted by Rob Mahoney on December 25, 2009 under Commentary | 4 Comments to Read

The ESPNDallas crew put together a list of the top 10 Mavericks of the decade, and here are their rankings:

  1. Dirk Nowitzki
  2. Steve Nash
  3. Michael Finley
  4. Jason Terry
  5. Josh Howard
  6. Nick Van Exel
  7. Jason Kidd
  8. Devin Harris
  9. Jerry Stackhouse
  10. Erick Dampier

I’m a bit lost as to the criteria used, though. If it’s the out-and-out best players (talent and production-wise) to play for the Mavs in the 2000s, Jason Kidd seems slighted. If it’s based on production in a Maverick uniform this decade, Jason Terry may not be getting the respect he deserves. And if it’s based on…well, whatever metric puts Nick Van Exel (who make no mistake is one of my personal favorites in team history) ahead of Jason Kidd, Devin Harris, and Erick Dampier, then that explains that. This just seems like an exercise where you need to take talent, production, and Maverick tenure all into account, and with that in mind the order seems a bit scrambled.

It’s not an easy list to compile. We can all agree that Dirk stands at the top of the list, with Steve Nash a perfectly acceptable second fiddle. But where do you go from there? Michael Finley is the best scorer of the bunch, Jason Terry kept the Mavs afloat sans Nash and has a Finals appearance under his belt, and Jason Kidd is probably the best of the remaining crop despite his short tenure. After that, you’ve got some combination of Josh Howard, Devin Harris, and Erick Dampier, three Mavs that were absolutely instrumental to the team’s success during the most successful stretch this decade, and each contributing in unique ways that only sometimes show up on the stat sheet (scoring balance, change-of-pace potential, interior defense). Only then do I get to Jerry Stackhouse and Nick Van Exel, but with DeSagana Diop, Antawn Jamison, and MARQUIS DANIELS getting some consideration.

Sound off in the comments, because I’m curious to hear everyone’s take on this. What’s the best way to go about ranking the decade’s Mavs? And given those criteria, who’veyagot?

  • Brian

    Well, let’s be honest. It’s ESPN, so the guy with HEART and GRIT and TOUGHNESS is gonna get overrated. I love Nick as much as the next guy, but that’s really what it boiled down to. And putting Shawn Bradley as one of the options for the fans picks is just a cruel joke.

    Still, I’m going to defend their choice of keeping Kidd relatively low based on tenure. Maybe not behind Nick, but certainly behind JET and maybe Howard. These lists are pretty arbitrary anyway, and I don’t know if this was their criteria, but when doing stuff like this I have to factor in how much of the decade they were contributing. Kidd’s only been here, what… 2 and a half years now?

    And I’m a bit sketchy on the timing, but I’d have to put Finley above Nash for career output as a Mav. Maybe most of this was in the 90s, which I guess throws a wrench into a lot of what I was saying about Kidd, but Finley as a Mav was more important to the franchise over the long haul than Nash as a Mav. Any serious arguments otherwise are revisionist history based on the fact that Nash has won 2 MVPs in a different jersey.

  • Andrew

    On the other hand, if you’re voting for Mavs on the basis of what they’ve done for the team in the playoffs, Van Exel would probably be second. It’s also somewhat annoying that Josh Howard has all the talent to be second on this list, and also the only one of the top five who could play any defense, but it’s hard to argue that five isn’t what he deserves.

  • Jon

    I guess service time should still be the big determinant, especially if it was actually productive. If you count the 99-2000 season, Nash spent five pretty much All-Star-worthy seasons and Fin six. Then of the “second guard”, Terry and Damp have five-and-a-bit, Josh has six-and-a-bit. Stackhouse with four-and-a-bit (since he was basically useless after November or so in 2008). Devin has three-and-a-half.

    Then there’s Kidd (one-and-a-half) and NVE (one-and-a-half).

    I’d put Fin as #2 (maybe biased from his 90s performance, and extra season…even though it was a jumpshot-obsessive one) ahead of Nash. Terry probably deserves #4, since he’s played and scored well pretty continuously since he arrived. Josh at #5 above the rest, because he’s been important but he’s been restricted recently by injury.

    Then it becomes a matter of weighing productivity and “playoffs significance” against service time. NVE and Kidd are the guys on the list with the shortest amount of time, but they provide playoffs dominance (that Sacramento series? Just amazing by NVE) and All-Star production respectively. The three others (Devin, Stack, Damp) were solid contributors for longer periods of time, but does that counteract Kidd and NVE’s contributions? I may say so, but even that goes murky when Devin’s production in shorter time was probably a little more than Stack and Damp’s.

    The way I go: Dirk, Finley, Nash, Terry, Howard, Devin, Damp, Kidd, NVE, Stackhouse (probably biased here because I keep thinking of his awful start to 08-09, and his “gunnerism”.)

  • william head

    I’m assuming Antoine “Shimmy” Walker came in at 11, just missing top 10 pay dirt. How about this one: Antawn Jamison. Think about it. We flip him for Harris and Stack and then a few years later flip that for Kidd and Marion. That’s a pretty nice haul for an undersized 4 that never would have seen the floor in Dallas.