Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on November 11, 2010 under xOther | 2 Comments to Read

  • John Schuhmann of NBA.com, on which teams could challenge the Lakers this season: “In the East, you have the same three contenders as you had going in: Boston, Miami and Orlando. In the West, I really like what I’ve seen from Dallas. Defensively, I think they’ve taken a step forward with Tyson Chandler replacing Erick Dampier. If their offense can come around, they’ll be a stronger foe than we thought the Lakers would have in their conference.”
  • Mavs’ Summer Leaguer DeShawn Sims started the season in Greece, but now he may be headed to the D-League.
  • Chris Mannix of SI.com: “Bottom line, to get out of this Groundhog Day-like loop, Dallas needs to make a change beyond what it’s already done. Since February 2008, the Mavs have acquired Kidd, Marion, Butler, Haywood, DeShawn Stevenson and Chandler to revamp their roster. Mark Cuban committed $80 million to Nowitzki last summer and signed Kidd to a three-year, $25 million extension in 2009 because Kidd, even at 37, is still better than most point guards in the league. Cuban didn’t sit on the sideline when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were being courted. He just didn’t have enough to get them. But to avoid history repeating itself again, the Mavericks may need to take even more risks. They have movable assets like Butler ($10.5 million expiring contract) and Stevenson ($4.2 million expiring contract). James, Wade and Bosh are no longer available, but there could be a few potential difference-makers who are.” Mannix goes on to suggest Gilbert Arenas and Andre Iguodala as possible trade returns for Caron Butler. One of those suggestions is tremendous and would be quite helpful, and the other could end up crippling the franchise for a decade. I’m not sure we’re at the stage where Butler has to go or the Mavs have to make a move just yet, but if that day comes, here’s to hoping the Mavs stay away from the guillotine.
  • Skeets and Tas debate the merits of the Mavs’ success on the latest episode of The Basketball Jones.
  • It was rumored at one point that Greg Ostertag may be trying to make a comeback (or start his coaching career) with the Texas Legends, but no longer. According to Marc Stein, Ostertag will stay retired for now, citing “family reasons.” Bummer.
  • Why doesn’t Erick Dampier have a job?
  • Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas: “His 84 field-goal attempts rank third on the team, just 12 shots behind Jason Terry — in one less game – who has made 20 more shots. Marion has made three fewer baskets on 25 fewer attempts. Jason Kidd is the only rotation player shooting a lower percentage (34.7), but Kidd has put half as many attempts and isn’t needed to score in bulk as is Butler. But, that doesn’t mean Marion is the more logical choice to start. Marion has handled the move to the bench with grace and a team-first attitude when at least some outsiders viewed it with trepidation. There’s no reason to stir things up by asking Butler to now come off the bench, a move he probably wouldn’t welcome. During an ESPNDallas.com chat prior to the start of training camp, Butler was asked if the team had plans to bring him off the bench. Butler stated that he’s not at a point in his career where that move makes sense. Plus, the Mavs want Butler on the floor and performing well, not only to accomplish team goals, but to elevate Butler’s value in the case his $10.8-million expiring contract can be flipped in a beneficial trade.”
  • A list of the best NBA players making less than $3 million this year, featuring Al Thornton, Matt Barnes, Taj Gibson…and not Rodrigue Beaubois. I try not to harp on list exclusions, but this one speaks to just how far out of the NBA consciousness a foot injury puts you.

Heard It Through the Weekend Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on August 8, 2010 under xOther | Read the First Comment

  • Tom Ziller of NBA FanHouse on Beaubois’ injury: “Of course, it’s unfortunate for the French team, who really looks talented enough to play for a medal but can’t suffer many more losses. As for the Mavs, let’s hope Beaubois is ready by mid-October. Early injuries have a way of ruining seasons, even if the player is healed by Opening Night. The Mavericks — nay, the league can not afford to miss out on Beaubois.”
  • Unconfirmed, but it’s possible that Jeremy Lin’s deal is with NikeTaiwan, and not the mothership. That makes a ton of sense considering Lin is an American product born in California, where he played the entirety of his high school career, before moving on to Harvard and now back to the Bay area. Not saying there isn’t a place for product marketed by American ballplayers in Taiwan, but somebody seems to be missing the boat here.
  • Mavs Summer Leaguer DeShawn Sims may not be attending Celtics training camp after all. Per Mark Deeks (a.k.a. Sham Sports), Sims has signed with PAOK Thessaloniki in Greece.
  • Mark Cuban on what the sports media can do better (via Dan LeBatard of the Miami Herald): “Preparation. Having some journalistic and quality standards. I can’t remember the last time I had a sports interview where I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of questioning and knowledge of the interviewer. When something has to be written/taped quickly about the day’s/week’s events, media has no choice but to talk out of their [rear ends] because having an uninformed opinion and winging it is always better than choosing not to participate. Being left out means you probably lose your job. Worse still, media lives off the brands they built for themselves in the pre-blog/Twitter/Facebook era. If you were a good reporter in 2002, fans probably think you still are, and treat your opinions as facts.”
  • If you’re one that buys into subjective rankings of any type (much less the preseason variety), it may interest you that Steve Aschburner of NBA.com has Dirk at 4 on his list of likely MVP candidates.

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on July 29, 2010 under xOther | Be the First to Comment

Adventures in Summer Leaguing, Volume V

Posted by Rob Mahoney on July 21, 2010 under Commentary, Recaps | Be the First to Comment

In lieu of a delayed recap of the Mavs final game at the Vegas Summer League, I’ve opted for a player-by-player review based on their exploits. If you’ve come in search of some analysis of Moussa Seck that’s probably more serious than it should be, actual praise for Mouhammad Faye, or a first look at Ian Mahinmi, you’ve come to the right place.

Rodrigue Beaubois: Experience is important, but Beaubois didn’t demonstrate much growth in terms of running the point. He had his moments — a read here, a read there — but this was not a particularly successful trip for Rodrigue. However, Beaubois did show off his pull-up game a bit, something he didn’t do with much frequency last season with the Mavs. Granted, he didn’t have much of a chance; pull-up threes are the kind of shots Beaubois is able to take in Summer League, but probably shouldn’t be taking with the actual team. There are better shots to be had when playing with Dirk Nowitzki et al. Aside from that wrinkle, Beaubois played off the ball a bit too much and didn’t blow me away as a traditional point guard prospect. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s worth noting.

Dominique Jones: Dominique Jones isn’t quite a bull in a china shop — he stands just 6’5”, after all — but at the very least he’s a Tasmanian devil in a Pottery Barn. It’ll be nice to see if Jones can get to the basket (and to the free throw line) consistently against bigger and badder NBA regulars, but he passed his first exam in that course with flying colors. Jones isn’t a particularly versatile scorer just yet, but his driving abilities are sealed and ready for NBA use. He has a quick first step. He’s incredibly strong. He can drive in both directions, finish with contact, and attack the basket in a variety of ways. Jones may seem like a black hole at times, but he’s not an unwilling passer. He’ll find his teammates, but there’s no question that his offensive focus is to score as frequently as possible, regardless of who’s defending him.

However, as I mentioned in my game-by-game recaps, Jones was just as excellent defensively. It’s still very early, but Dominique looks like a player that could be defensively viable at both guard positions, and his tenacity on that end is beyond impressive. His technique still needs work, and he needs to continue to develop to become a better team defender. However, Jones looked remarkable in showcasing his one-on-one defensive abilities (staying in front of his man, bodying up, contesting shots, etc.).

Jeremy Lin: It’s not easy to walk into a gym where every unheralded prospect is looking to make a name for themselves and do just that, yet Lin earned himself an NBA contract on the strength of his play at Summer League. Jeremy has reportedly agreed to a two-year deal with the Golden State Warriors, which is pretty remarkable considering the Mavs were Lin’s only Summer League invite.

Lin surprised a lot of people with his ability to keep pace athletically, which was thought to be one of his bigger weaknesses coming into Summer League. It looked like a non-issue, even as Lin was asked to check John Wall. Jeremy looked strong in the open court, but he also impressed with his vision and decision-making in half-court sets. I don’t know of Lin will ever have the talent necessary to be a full-time starting point, but it’s not hard to imagine him providing scoring and playmaking off the bench in a regular capacity.

Jeremy Lin’s journey in Vegas was a gradual unveiling. Initially, he showed an ability to make simple, effective passes and finish in the lane over NBA shot-blockers. Then came a surprising diversity in his drives and moves to the rim, which is essential for long-term success on the perimeter in the NBA. Lin also added a few threes for good measure, giving team officials reason to hesitate before inking his jumper as a weakness on the scouting report. Finally, Lin really showcased his defensive abilities by pressuring ball-handlers and attacking the passing lanes. He’s hardly a finished product, but Lin can do a bit of everything.

Omar Samhan: Dexter Pittman may be a rotation player for the Miami Heat this season, but Omar Samhan couldn’t even secure a spot on an NBA roster. This makes very little sense. Though Pittman is probably the more intriguing athletic specimen (buried underneath his robust exterior is a definite NBA athlete), he clearly doesn’t have the proper understanding of how to use his size to his advantage. Samhan does. Neither player is in optimal NBA shape, but if we’re looking at which prospect has a better understanding of mechanics, spacing, and talent utilization? There’s no debate. Samhan works his way into the low post to drop a baby hook, while Pittman spins and elbows his way into an offensive foul.

Pittman is just one of many. With so many raw center prospects in the NBA that never find actualization, it’s a shame that players like Samhan can’t even get their foot in the door. Omar is a very poor defender if pulled out to the perimeter, not a sure thing in the post against real NBA bigs, and would have his minutes capped by poor conditioning. Still, he was able to score and rebound well against some of the better centers Summer League had to offer, which has to count for something.

For some reason or another, it’s acceptable for a wing player to be an intriguing, one-dimensional scoring talent, but blasphemous for a center or power forward to do the same. Samhan may not be a great NBA rebounder or defender, but would there really be anything so wrong with getting a few free offensive possessions out of him in the low post?

Ian Mahinmi: Ian had an abbreviated Summer League run, but he showed glimpses of what we can expect next season. Mahinmi rebounded very well in fairly limited minutes, and while he wasn’t a dominant offensive force in any particular game, he showed off a few skills that should be helpful in real NBA games. He has a nice mid-range jumper that can keep defenses honest. Mahinmi looks quicker on his feet than any other Maverick big. He’s not afraid to offer help from the weak side. Mahinmi isn’t the strongest finisher, but at least in Summer League he was able to go up strong and draw fouls.

Mahinmi will frustrate some fans with the holes in his game, but provided we stay focused on what he can do (come on, he’s the third center on the roster, after all) rather than what he can’t, I think it’ll be very clear how cool it is to have a guy like this on the team as an insurance policy.

Mouhammad Faye: While Mouhammad Faye didn’t quite have a Jeremy Lin-style explosion, I feel he played pretty well in Vegas. Faye will never be an impact player offensively. His influence on that end will always be strictly complementary, which means that the most important skills he can showcase are the ability to hit open jumpers and finish freebies at the rim. He did both. Faye’s defense could possibly get him a chance with an NBA team some day, as he’s both well-equipped (Faye is listed at 6’9”, but has Stretch Armstrong limbs) and hard-working. It’s very, very difficult to gauge defensive success in the Summer League because of how sensitive those skills translate to a 5-on-5 game with more experienced opponents. Moving from Vegas to the NBA regular season won’t make a made three rim out. It won’t make a smart pass into the wrong move. But a successful individual defender in Summer League could end up flubbing when forced to be part of something more.

For now, that’s where Faye is. He needs three-point range before he’s given a serious NBA shot anyway, but he also needs to prove that he can operate effectively as a team defender. That’s exactly what he’d be able to do in the D-League, if the Mavs choose to make him a part of the Texas Legends’ inaugural run.

Faye is already 25. He’s not going to overhaul his game by the time his career is through. Still, based on the strength he’s shown as a defender, he could be an interesting guy to have on the wing. Faye really needs to bulk up if he’s going to play as a combo forward (he’s a bit slight even to guard NBA 3s at the moment), but he has the makings of a pretty impressive NBA defender.

Shan Foster: Shan Foster is the mythical three-point shooter who can’t shoot. Foster shot 46.9% from three during his last season at Vanderbilt, but he just doesn’t look all that comfortable spotting up at the NBA three-point line. He shot just 25% from beyond the arc in Vegas, and that’s not even close to what it would take to secure Foster a spot on an NBA roster. He’s not a bad defender, but Shan really doesn’t do much offensively except shoot. I wouldn’t call him a black hole, but he certainly doesn’t make plays. He doesn’t drive. He doesn’t post up. He spots up frequently, and misses far more than he should.

J.R. Giddens: I just don’t see it. Giddens plays hard, but he doesn’t seem to have a particularly good grasp of where to be on the court. One could appreciate him solely for his hustle, but too often is he forced to rely on it based on his own mistakes. He seems like a pretty decent positional rebounder, but considering Giddens really failed to show any standout NBA skills aside from his athleticism, I’m not sure he’s cut from the NBA mold. A good player, but unfortunately he just doesn’t seem good enough.

Moussa Seck: Ever the project, Seck’s height is undeniably attractive in an NBA setting, but he has a long way to go before he’s ready to use it. Not only did Seck really only shine offensively when putting in an easy dunk, but his body needs a lot of work before he’s NBA ready.

Consider Yao Ming. The guy is built like a tree, and even with the amount of upper and lower body work he’s done throughout his career, he still has trouble staying healthy. Such is the life of the league’s giants, who have the principles of physics working against them.

Seck could benefit a lot — particularly in the strength and conditioning departments — from playing in the D next season, and I have a sneaking suspicion we may see him in Frisco. But until he puts in the work to make his body NBA-ready, he’s not worth having a particularly serious discussion about. I will say this: Seck may not be all that mobile, but he can surprise people as a shot-blocker for pretty obvious reasons. If Seck could ever bulk up enough to at least put up a fight on the glass, he could find enough minutes to be a difference-maker on the defensive end. Teams simply have to account for him when he’s on the floor, even if Seck lacks a natural feel for the flow of the game.

DeShawn Sims: I was a bit more impressed with Sims’ play in the Orlando Summer League than I was with his performance in Vegas. Sims is a tad small for a natural 4, and his largely face-up game only reinforces that fact. He’s not a great rebounder, but it’s not for lack of effort; Sims puts in the work on the boards, he’s just not all that tall, strong, or athletic. He could be worth an extended look, but Sims doesn’t seem like the kind of talent that would take the jump from Summer League to the NBA all that well.

Amara Sy: Strong, but awkward. Aside from the occasional bizarrely soft jumper, Sy really didn’t look like a basketball player. He got a bucket now and again, but I’m not exactly sure what it is that he’s supposed to do on the court. He’s not a good rebounder (though he really should be, given his strength and athleticism), doesn’t have much touch around the rim at all, and isn’t more than a passable NBA player. Sy seems like a lock to continue in the D-League for a spell before floating back across the Atlantic.

Josh Mayo: Pretty quick, but doesn’t have the blinding speed necessary to make a difference as a 6-foot-flat point guard in the NBA. Mayo didn’t have much of a chance to display his talents behind Rodrigue Beaubois, Dominique Jones, and Jeremy Lin, but he also played incredibly pedestrian basketball when he did make it to the floor.

Eric Tramiel: If he ends up in Frisco, it will be solely as a ticket draw (Tramiel came out of UNT, which is about a 30 minute drive from the Legends’ new home). Tramiel didn’t play badly per se, but his defense — while competent — wasn’t impressive to make up for his no-show offensively. It’s tough for guys in Tramiel’s position to impress NBA scouts, but there are also reasons why players of his ilk struggle to even find PT in Summer League.

Darryl Watkins: Big body. Not horrible. Disappears, both on the court and from the Summer League roster.

Adventures in Summer Leaguing, Volume IV

Posted by Rob Mahoney on July 16, 2010 under Commentary, Recaps | Read the First Comment

  • Rodrigue Beaubois played a pretty miserable game. In almost sixteen minutes, Beaubois went scoreless, but still managed to pick up five fouls and turn the ball over three times. He suffered a bit of a high ankle sprain during the game, which does help to explain his hesitation and ineffectiveness. However, even with the injury as an alibi, this was a weak performance for Rodrigue.
  • With Beaubois sitting most of the game due to injury, there was an offensive void to be filled. That’s where Dominique Jones came up big, and Jeremy Lin, Omar Samhan, and Ian Mahinmi made notable contributions. Dominique had a high-usage outing (with Beaubois sitting, Jones ran the offense for extended stretches) but sitll a remarkably efficient one: He scored 28 points on 17 shots, shot 53% from the field, and only turned the ball over twice. Typically I’m more of an advocate of evaluating skills in Summer League rather than production, but Jones’ outing was too impressive to ignore.
  • However, Jones’ best work was on the defensive end. Dominique was matched up with the prodigious John Wall, and though Wall finished with a fantastic 21 points, 10 assists, and seven rebounds, Jones’ ability to anticipate Wall’s moves was very impressive. The #1 pick may have gotten his, but he shot just 4-of-19 from the field in doing so.
  • Kevin Arnovitz on Dominique Jones: Jones played the point at South Florida and can distribute the ball in traffic, or make use of himself off the ball. He recorded four assists on Thursday and turned the ball over twice, which is a minor miracle for an active, high usage guard in summer league action. ‘I love the point guard position, as people can probably tell the way I work with the ball,’ Jones said. ‘But whatever the Mavericks need me to do, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to try to prepare myself and learn from Jason Terry and Jason Kidd so that when the time comes at either position that I play, I won’t be a liability.’ For an aging Dallas squad, the time might come sooner than later — and Jones seems far more of an asset than a liability.”
  • Jeremy Lin had his best Summer League performance yet. He threaded a long bounce pass through two defenders to a cutter. He picked off a lazy pass and sprinted out for an open court dunk. He sliced to the basket and found an open teammate on the other side of the rim. He unleashed a breathtaking spin on a shot attempt that was unfortunately led to an offensive foul call. He stuck with John Wall on defense. Lin looks every bit an NBA player, and at this point the only thing separating him from that official status is an invite, not skill.
  • Here’s my fellow Hardwood Paroxite, Zach Harper (also of Cowbell Kingdom and Talk Hoops), on Lin’s performance: “Jeremy Lin and John Wall faced off in the fourth quarter of the Wizards-Mavericks game in Vegas and pretty much played each other to a standstill. That’s right. An undrafted Harvard, SMAHRT kid, point guard went toe-to-toe with the number-one pick in the NBA draft and sort-of held his own. The final box score will show John Wall with an impressive 21 points (let’s just forget about the 4/19 shooting), 10 assists and seven rebounds. But it won’t show that the majority of the Lin’s 11 fourth quarter points were the result of him getting the better of the ‘best player in the draft’ for times than Wall will care to remember. Lin and Wall played the equivalent of an iso chess match on the hardwood game board. The kid from the Ivy League refused to back down from the YouTube sensation and while Wall walked away with the highlight reel, Lin walked away as the fan favorite.”
  • Ian Mahinmi looked good in his Maverick debut. He’s confident in his mid-range game, which is good, but he’s also not content to settle. Mahinmi attacked the rim whenever he could, including one impressive drive to the rim from the high post. Ian also rebounded fairly well, although the Mavs’ bigs on the whole did a poor job on the defensive glass. It’s tough to attribute specific blame when the defensive rotations are Summer Leaguerrific (forcing the bigs to step up and contest shots they shouldn’t have to, exposing the soft, chewy center of the defensive unit), but JaVale McGee and John Wall killed it on the offensive glass.
  • Omar Samhan looked strong again in a complementary role, but he’s not long for this NBA world. Samhan has agreed to a two-year contract with Zalgiris, a Lithuanian team, with a team option for a third year. Let’s hope he’ll be back stateside before that. Cheers, Omar.
  • With Ian Mahinmi inserted into the starting lineup, Mouhammad Faye was relegated to reserve duty. He didn’t look as impressive against Washington. Though Faye’s defense was above average, it wasn’t notable, and he didn’t contribute anything offensively.
  • DeShawn Sims had his most productive game as a Mav, but I have a feeling he’ll be picked up elsewhere. Sims is a pretty decent NBA prospect, but the Mavs need an immediate contributor as the back-up 4. Plus, if they’re going to take a flyer on anyone from this roster, Lin seems to be the better find.
  • If I’m not mistaken, Shan Foster had his first drive of Summer League in Game 4. This is not a good thing.

New Blood

Posted by Rob Mahoney on July 2, 2010 under News | 5 Comments to Read

Photo by AP Photo.

The Mavs released their official Vegas Summer League roster today, and there are a few surprises:

Name#POSHTWTFROMYRS PRO
Rodrigue Beaubois3G6'2''182Guadeloupe1
J.R. Giddens5G6'5''215New Mexico2
Jeremy Lin7G6'3''200HarvardR
Amara Sy9F6'8''224FranceR
DeShawn Sims10F6'8''235MichiganR
Dominique Jones20G6'4''215South FloridaR
Shan Foster30G6'6''205VanderbiltR
Omar Samhan34C6'11''265St. Mary'sR
Mouhammad Faye35F6'9''215SMUR
Eric Tramiel42F6'7''230North TexasR
Moussa Seck44C7'4''220SenegalR

Mavs’ assistant coaches Monte Mathis and Darrell Armstrong will be the head and assistant coaches of the SL team, respectively.

Here are the prospects who participated in Mavs mini-camp, but didn’t make the Summer League roster: Jermaine Beal (Vanderbilt), Kelvin Lewis (Houston), Jamel White (Texas Wesleyan), Andre Emmett (Texas Tech; drafted by the Sonics in 2004), Tony Crocker (Oklahoma), Dwight Lewis (USC), Larry Owens (Oral Roberts/Tulsa 66ers), Derrick Byars (Drafted by the Blazers in 2007), Roderick Flemings (Hawaii), and Zivonko Buljan (TCU).

Larry Owens is probably the most regrettable omission, but the inclusion of Sy and Giddens makes up for it in my eyes. Sims isn’t a bad addition either, and while he isn’t ready for the pros just yet, he should be good in Vegas. There will be more to come later on the Summer League roster, particularly the new names.