The Four Ingredients

Posted by David Hopkins on March 5, 2013 under Commentary | 9 Comments to Read

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“Victory must now be mine or Galactus shall not fight again.” — Galactus, Devourer of Worlds

Last week I wrote about Dirk Nowitzki, his legacy and his future. Do the past two years represent the sudden decline of Nowitzki? Should fans recalibrate their expectations? Or are these two years statistical outliers with a bum knee to blame? Like most things, the answer is probably somewhere in the middle. Regardless, there is no denying that the future inevitable departure of Nowitzki has been a concern as fans watch the season unfold. And as much as we’d like to put everything on Nowitkzi’s shoulders, he isn’t the only factor in making the Mavs a great franchise. When looking at the long-term health of this franchise, I would suggest that there are four ingredients.

1. Young talent
2. Reliable veterans
3. An All-Star “Go To” Player
4. Trustworthy management, ownership, and coaching

In the young talent category, the jury is still out. For players born in the late ‘80s and ‘90s, the Mavs have: Rodrigue Beaubois, Darren Collison, Jae Crowder, Jared Cunningham, Bernard James, Dominique Jones, O.J. Mayo, Anthony Morrow, and Brandan Wright. Young players aren’t just the replacements for the old team. They are valuable trade assets. They offer the greatest potential for improvement and growth. I believe in O.J. Mayo, and I’d be happy if he signed a long-term contract with the Mavs. The question is money, but I can’t imagine shooting guards are in such high demand that another franchise would overpay for him. Darren Collison? I just don’t know. When you look at his advanced stats, he’s actually slightly better than O.J. Mayo. However, I don’t trust him to run an offense. The rookie class isn’t too bad. Crowder and James are encouraging. This isn’t Cunningham’s year, but who knows how he’ll do once given a chance? Rodrigue Beaubois and Dominique Jones are a disappointment. I believe Brandan Wright is a better player than his minutes and stats suggest.

In the reliable veterans category, the Mavs are one of the better teams in the league. Vince Carter, Elton Brand, and Shawn Marion might be most consistent players on the roster, keeping the Mavericks from having the worst record in the Western Conference. For those crazy fans who want to “suck for luck” in draft, I’m sorry these veterans are ruining it for you with their competitiveness and will to win.

Dirk Nowitzki is the All-Star “Go To” Player, but he wasn’t an all-star this year and he hasn’t been very “go to” this season. There isn’t an easy fix here. Nowitzki is a once in a lifetime player. The last time the Mavs had a player with this kind of raw talent was maybe when they drafted Roy Tarpley in 1986. Fate is fickle. Moving on…

Trustworthy management, ownership, and coaching. I believe this is the most important category for long-term success (that they have some control over). Players come and go. They disappoint and surprise us. Do you trust the coaches and the front office to make the right decisions? I’d like to spend the next three weeks on this subject. Next Tuesday, I’ll write about Rick Carlisle. Then, the week after that, it’s Donnie Nelson. And finally, Mark Cuban will get some attention.

Among all NBA franchises, the Spurs are the most consistent in these four categories. And not surprisingly, they will continue to be a good small market team for quite some time—making all the other small market teams look like whiners. Respect where respect is due. They are a quality operation. As the Mavericks consider their future, they should probably look at the areas where they are weakest.

What are your thoughts? How do the Mavs rate in these four areas? Post your thoughts in the comments section below.

Note #1: For anyone who regularly reads my column, you know that I’ve been busy with a cover feature for the Dallas Observer. It’s about Coach Larry Brown at SMU. I just turned in my final draft (or so I hope) this morning. The story will be available on March 14th.

Note #2: Tomorrow afternoon, March 6th, I’ll be on ESPN Central Texas 1660 AM–talking about the Dallas Mavericks. Listen live at 12:35. I don’t know how long I’ll be on the air or where the conversation will go, but I’ll try to be interesting.

David Hopkins is a freelance writer – a regular contributor to D Magazine and Smart Pop Books. David doesn’t trust teams that wear red. He half-trusts SMU. Follow David on Twitter at @davidhopkins.

  • http://www.facebook.com/requesada Rolando Quesada

    The Mavs are quickly approaching the end of one journey – the descent from the 2011 Championship high – and will soon begin another journey. Unfortunately, the most likely scenario is that we will have another patchwork, wait-and-see middling season next year, on Dirk and Marion’s last years. We won’t truly know the extent of the damage done by frittering away all our assets for cap space (including not resigning Chandler) until the free agency period after the next; this will be the earliest we are likely to obtain the next “All-Star Go To” player that will take over for Dirk.
    Becuase I think that’s our identity. Dirk is the franchise. Without an iconic player to build the team around, we are nothing – and Dirk is not only running out of contract, but of the ability to carry a team. Can he become the unstoppable force he was in 2011 again, two years removed, in 2013-14? If healthy, with a proper training camp, absoutely possible – if not likely that he makes the All-Star team again.
    But we are running out of time for Cuban’s gambit to work. We need another star to carry the torch, and it has to be a point guard and/or center. That’s the bottom line. Dirk or not, we need the next franchise to come within the next year and a half. Or else we’ll be back in the pre-Dirk/ now post-Dirk dark ages.

    • http://www.facebook.com/davidghopkins David Hopkins

      Good insight! You raise an important question: Can Nowitzki still carry a team? It isn’t realistic that they’ll find another Nowitzki-caliber player. He’s one of the top 20 all-time players. So how do they fill the void? Young talent, reliable veterans, and an all-star player — but he doesn’t have to be the second coming, just someone who can put up the points and play hard on both ends.

  • Max

    Have the franchise to find a new Star? We allready have one! Yes of course Dirk isn’t the youngest anymore, but i believe he can and he is going to carry the franchise the nex two three years. But i also think we have to find some new players out there. I agree with Rolando that we have to find a new PG or Center. The Mavs shouldn’t look only in USA, take a look in Europe, like the Timberwolves did. I mean Shved is a nice steal, isn’t he? Fill the roster with some new talented players. (europe or dissatisfied player (RC always can put out the best of them)) Pick some nice drafts, and don’t search the one Star…make a team like they were in 2011….

    And I apologise for my english… i read your blog from switzerland and english isn’t my first language

    • http://www.facebook.com/davidghopkins David Hopkins

      Very true. (And your English reads very well.) GM Donnie Nelson plays an important role here in assessing and valuing talent.

      • Max

        Thanks. I hope so but i don’t believe it. In the last two years the mavs made a lot of mistakes. For the mavs the off season isn’t so far away, they should think about the moves they have to do. Stay with O.Y. and Carter, resign Brand. I would give the rookies more time in the roster by now! The season is over, they need more expierence. Let go Kaman, Jones and Beaubois. They had their chance and i my opinion they miss here. And i don’t believe that CP3 or D12 will sign with the mavs. But I believe in make a team around dirk with strong personalitys. In 2011 the slogan was “The time is now” now it should be “Build a Team”…

        • http://www.facebook.com/davidghopkins David Hopkins

          Haha. “Build a team.” Somehow, I don’t see the Mavs PR department going for that one. I’d keep Kaman, unless they can find someone better in free agency, but I don’t know who that would be. However, I’d be seriously surprised if Jones and Beaubois (or Mike James) return.

          • Max

            Hmm I really like Kaman but he want to play in the 4th quarter und be starter. In my opinion he can’t be the guy he want to be, the mavs need a center who can take more rebounds and play better defense. The new center have to be a better defender beside Dirk. Sorry Kaman. And no, there isn’t muchout there. And D12 is not going to be a Mav. Unfortunately. And I would like to know what the PR department is going to do…^^ Keep writing i read all your blogs. i like it very much. Hope in the future I can read more about the Mavs ;)

  • Moses

    I don’t trust that the Mavs can get value out of the draft. They’ve been built on Cuban’s deep pockets, and now that those pockets are penalized, the draft becomes more important… And the Mavs haven’t done much with it in the past. Quis-ey, J-Ho, and JJ Barea are the only ones who spring to mind, and I believe JJ went undrafted, correct? I think Beabois could have been something without injuries interfering and with better development. But for every Josh Howard, there were two Podkolzin’s and three Mo Ager’s, and a couple of Fazekas’.

    Hopefully there will be a sea change. I think Jae Crowder and Sarge are good starts. Lose about three more games (which will happen sooner or later – I’d bet within the next 10 days), and I would like to see more of Jared Cunningham. Carlisle is already benching Collison more and more in favor of Mike James; that doesn’t help anybody once the Mavs are eliminated from the postseason.

    (ugh, just saw that might not be possible: http://www.mavsmoneyball.com/2013/3/6/4071840/jared-cunningham-possibly-out-for-the-year-mavericks-draft)

    • http://www.facebook.com/davidghopkins David Hopkins

      Mavs Moneyball? I’ve never heard of that site before. :) Kidding. Josh Bowe wrote a great article. I particularly agree with his statement “…Cunningham’s been about as invisible as a first round pick can possibly be.”