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 Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on October 6, 2010 under xOther | Be the First to Comment

  • Michael Lee of the Washington Post: “But shortly before pregame introductions, Arenas was dribbling near half court when Dallas Mavericks point guard Jason Kidd walked up to embrace him. Shortly thereafter, Jason Terry wrapped his arms around Arenas, followed by former Wizards teammates DeShawn Stevenson, Brendan Haywood and finally Caron Butler, with Haywood needling Arenas for his unkempt beard. Arenas couldn’t help but smile. But asked after the game about what his emotions were, Arenas said, ‘I lost all feeling a long time ago.’”
  • Tom Ziller, in typical Ziller fashion, illustrating the difference between Rick Carlisle and Avery Johnson in amazing visual form. There’s a lot going on with Ziller’s diagrams, but feast your eyes. I’m not sure that the diagram tells us anything we didn’t know before (a point emphasized by Mark Cuban in the source material on which Ziller riffs), but they’re worth your time nonetheless.
  • Rick Carlisle on the “battle” for starting center honors (via Eddie Sefko): “I don’t see it as a battle. I see those guys as being a team. Brendan’s going to be the starter – for now. And Tyson’s going to give us energy and athleticism and he brings an exuberance to the game that’s really going to help us. It’s a tandem that we really like and we expect big things from them and they’re going to have to produce for us.”
  • NBA.com’s Steve Aschburner names Dirk Nowitzki to his all-clutch team. Smart man.
  • If not for Jerry Sloan, DeShawn Stevenson doesn’t think he’d have made it this far.
  • Rodrigue Beaubois, putting up shots. The Death Star is almost fully operational.

Washington Wizards 97, Dallas Mavericks 94: Abridged

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

Neon Green Light

Box ScorePlay-By-PlayShot Chart — GameFlow

“The beginnings and endings of all human undertakings are untidy.”
-Anonymous

Game one is technically in the books, even if it’s not much more than a token. Unfortunately, for those of us out of market, it all came second-hand. Without the distinct privilege of watching 48 minutes of riveting preseason action myself, I’m inclined to defer to those who did. But don’t leave this to writers and journalists alone. Have some insight on one of the Mavs from last night’s game? Sound off in the comments.

  • Eddie Sefko, Dallas Morning News: “According to the coaching staff, [Jason] Terry had five deflections and caused three loose balls. This is a huge development because coach Rick Carlisle has maintained that defensive intensity is what Terry has to improve on to keep racking up the 30 minutes per game that he’s averaged over most of his career. When asked if Terry can do that, Carlisle said: ‘Why the (heck) not?’ Terry’s defensive tipped balls – even more than his three steals – made Carlisle smile. Terry, too. ‘That’s what we’ve been concentrating on,’ he said. ‘That’s what I have to do.’”
  • Michael Lee, Washington Post: “[John] Wall later intercepted an Ian Mahinmi pass intended for Kidd and zipped down the court to make a left-handed layup. But his best play was actually a pass: a lob from beyond the three-point line to JaVale McGee (13 points, 7 rebounds and 6 blocks) that McGee caught and dunked with two hands over Brian Cardinal. ‘That was the hypest play for me,’ Wall said of the alley-oop to McGee. ‘The main thing was getting the jitters out of the way and having chemistry down pat with my teammates.’”
  • Tim MacMahon, ESPN Dallas: “After two injury-marred seasons, [Tyson] Chandler is completely healthy again. He looked a lot like the dude who averaged a double-double for the Hornets in 2007-08 during his debut in a Mavs uniform. He finished with 10 points on 3-of-4 shooting (including one oooh-inducing alley-oop), nine rebounds and two blocked shots in 17 minutes. “‘I loved Chandler tonight, and I’ve loved him every day of training camp,’ coach Rick Carlisle said. ‘He’s really bringing not only energy, but he’s bringing some vocal leadership and personality to our team, which we need. He’s a very, very welcome addition.’”
  • Tyson Chandler: “They came out and threw a press at us and threw a zone at us. Those were things that we weren’t prepared for and some things that we haven’t gone over in practice. But, that is what preseason is for. We need to learn. Tomorrow we will go over some things for the next game.”
  • Kyle Weidie, Truth About It: “Four of [Gilbert Arenas'] five makes were assisted upon; two of those came from running off-ball screening action, and two came as he made himself available at the three point line in transition and off an offensive rebound. The one non-assisted make came on a sweet baseline jumper against the mis-matched Jose Juan Barea (that natural scoring ability Gil still has). Out of the four misses, only 1.5 accounted for “bad attempts” — The good misses being wide open in transition and when Marion gave him too much room at the top of the key. The bad miss came when he pulled up for three in transition when driving action clearly would’ve created something for Blatche down low or Hinrich in the corner. The half bad attempt was Arenas’ last as he tried to post his old buddy DeShawn Stevenson. It was a close shot, but going in the direction of help. In terms of changing his game for the team, Gilbert might just be okay … but I can’t speak for him otherwise.”
  • Dan Devine, Ball Don’t Lie: “No catchphrases here … just a note that Hudson, a training camp invitee who spent time last season with the Boston Celtics and Memphis Grizzlies (as well as the D-League’s Maine Red Claws and Dakota Wizards), showed similar late-game flair during Summer League. Given the video evidence, if they don’t already call him Cool Lester Smooth, they might want to think about it. (Or, whoever “they” are might not want to start doling out “Wire”-related nicknames based on stuff that happens before the games start to count. Which would be fair, I guess.)”

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on August 11, 2010 under xOther | Be the First to Comment

  • Rodrigue Beaubois’ injury is as bad as initially feared, and he will undergo surgery on Friday to have a pin placed in his broken left foot. We’re looking at two to three months off the court, and while Mark Cuban has made it clear that such an event is not the end of the world, it’s unfortunate and inconvenient at the very least. Also, check out my post from Friday for how Beaubois’ injury may impact the Mavs’ rotation during the initial stages of the regular season.
  • I’m not one for schedule-gazing, so the allure of schedule release day is somewhat lost on me. Still, if you’re into that sort of thing, Mark Followill broke down the Mavs’ sched at DallasBasketball.com for your convenience.
  • Tim Thomas and the Mavs are inching closer and closer to an agreement on a one-year deal, and word has it that the signing could be official later today. I’ve already touched on the possibility here.
  • A kind reminder from Donnie Nelson that Rodrigue Beaubois is not a horse. Good to know.
  • Kyle Weidie from Truth About It dug up a pretty bizarre account courtesy of Lola Natisa, a friend/acquaintance of Brendan Haywood. This anecdote is very much of the unconfirmed variety, but worth noting regardless (excuse the lengthy quote and the non-basketball subject matter). Natisa wrote on her blog: “Brendan Haywood is an uncomfortably tall basket ball player who has recently signed with the Dallas Mavericks. When he was traded from the Washington Wizards to the Dallas Mavericks earlier this year, my friend Daylon (who knew Brendan from Charlotte) thought it would be cool to show him what Dallas had to offer. It was a Sunday night right after my gig at the House of Blues and the only place that was really jumping in Dallas was a night club called Wish. Brendan is a guy who enjoys muliti-cultural environments because they tend to be much safer, and the women seem to be much much nicer. After going out with him a few times, I can’t disagree with his preference. I’m not sure why…… but black women plus a night club, can add up to rude/bitter/unattractive results at times (lol) FYI: the black woman reading this and is offended, is the black woman that produces these unattractive results. Anyway, we warned him that this night for this club sometimes can become a little hood. Brendan listened to what we had to say and he asked, “Now, is this club just a little hood or is it Josh Howard hood”? I had never been to a Josh Howard party nor had I met him personally, so I wasn’t sure exactly what he meant. That was until I recently sang the National Anthem at Josh Howard’s Celebrity Softball Charity Game. All I can say is Josh Howard is sooo much more hood then just hood. His staff of hometown homeboys who sometimes need to ‘smoke one’ when under pressure were an interesting trio. The after party at the House of Blues looked like a Big T’s Bazaar fashion show. There were over sized gold chains, discount baby phat outfits and ass…just a whole lot of ass (tragic just tragic). Needless to say the night at Wish with Brendon and Daylon wasn’t Josh Howard hood. Hood is just that hood…Josh Howard Hood is hood on steroids, everything hood times ten.”
  • Say what you will about Jason Terry the player, but Jason Terry the person is about as endearing as they come. It’s from a bit of a fluff piece, but here’s Terry, via Gary Herron of the Rio Rancho Observer (H/T DOH at Mavs Moneyball): “I’ve been blessed and fortunate just to be in the business as long as I have. The ‘life expectancy’ of an NBA player is four years; I’ve been in the league now 11 years. I’ve been primarily healthy throughout my career, haven’t had any major injuries. Blessed with some big contracts; I have a beautiful family.”
  • Mike Prada of Bullets Forever applied the Cannon positional model to the Wizards with a spotlight on the John Wall-Gilbert Arenas tandem.
  • From Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas: “Cuban said Mavs head athletic trainier Casey Smith, a member of the Team USA medical staff, has reported that Chandler appears to have regained the explosion he had prior to ankle injuries that ruined the past two seasons.”

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on October 28, 2009 under xOther | Be the First to Comment

  • Jason Kidd, post-game: “[Dirk] would be dead by Christmas if we’re going to let him be the offense.”
  • Kyle Weidie from Truth About It.net on the Wizards’ (and Gilbert Arenas’) knack for timely responses in last night’s game: “There are certainly many different types of swagger, just ask Dan Steinberg. What was seen last night was ‘Sustainability Swag’. Every time Dirk started heating up, every time you thought the Mavs might make a run, the Wizards’ veterans came together and withstood oncoming water like a brick wall. The Wiz didn’t dazzle and amaze. They simply looked good.”
  • Rick Carlisle points to the second quarter defense as the problem (the Mavs allowed 35 points in the frame, and would’ve allowed 38 if DeShawn Stevenson’s last second three pointer wasn’t waved off).
  • Kelly Dwyer on the last night’s bottom line: “It really was a lay-up line — a line toward easy open shots from all areas, really – on both ends. Dallas’ problem is that it couldn’t make shots. Couldn’t nail open, easy shots that usually go in. Lots of hard luck misses as the Mavs clanged 14 of the team’s 18 three-point attempts. This could have been a close, high-scoring affair, but Dallas just wasn’t up to it. The panache was there. The makes were not.”
  • I’m not sure I agree with exactly how he arrives at his conclusion (nothing “work[ed]” last night…especially not on a level I would consider “fascinating”), but Shoals IDs the Mavs as one of this year’s “League Pass Teams.” They will definitely be worthy of that designation, just not based off of their opening night performance.
  • You may not have heard this, but Gilbert Arenas officially announced his return last night at the Mavs’ expense.
  • Zac Crain claims that whole affair had a preseason vibe, and he isn’t wrong. The offense was sloppy, even if the turnover numbers tell a different story, and the defense was worse, ranging from lazy to technically flawed to.

Washington Wizards 102, Dallas Mavericks 91

Posted by Rob Mahoney on under Recaps | 3 Comments to Read

Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images.

Box ScorePlay-By-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOr
Washington90.0113.348.823.822.510.0
Dallas101.142.135.522.910.0

“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.
-Anonymous

The mantra of the Mavs’ off-season was finding more help for Dirk Nowitzki. If you were to evaluate the fulfillment of that goal solely on last night’s performance against the Wizards, I don’t see how the assessment could be anything aside from “huge, embarrassing failure.” But hey, guys, this is the first game of the season. That means we’re grading on a curve, and “huge embarrassing failure” just so happens to round up to “pretty terrible, but I’ll get over it.”

There are far worse things than losing your home opener, and the Mavs’ offensive struggles against the Wizards should not be construed of anything more than a one game aberration. We know that this offense works, and we know that these players are more capable than they’ve shown. Jason Terry is simply better than 4-15 FG, and Shawn Marion is definitely more impressive than his largely invisible offensive performance. Jason Kidd and J.J. Barea should be held responsible for the rest of the crew, as the shots need to come easier for the Maverick bigs. None of that happened, and Dirk was left to his own devices. He didn’t disappoint (34 points on an atypical 10-25 FG, 12-13 FT, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks ), but it was far from enough to stave off a shockingly effective Gilbert Arenas (29 points on 10-21 FG, 9 assists), empowered by the surprise contributions of Randy Foye (19 points on 8-14 FG) and Andray Blatche (20 points on 8-14 FG, 7 rebounds). Dirk isn’t a bad guy to back, even in a one on three shoot out, but the Maverick guards were only slightly more effective perimeter defenders than, say, a chair.

The Mavs were clearly confused by the pick and roll, as Arenas and Brendan Haywood abused the Mavs for almost the entirety of the first half. Haywood responded with three thunderous first quarter dunks, resulting in a giant metaphorical wagging finger in the general direction of Erick Dampier. Damp knows better and the rest of the Mavs know better; if Dampier was too busy preventing Arenas from taking a quick jumper, someone else (ANYBODY else) should have stepped up to prevent Haywood from waltzing down the lane, untouched. That kind of defense is just unacceptable…unless, of course, you’re playing in the regular season opener and shaking off an inch-thick coat of rust.

Gilbert deserves more praise than the cursory treatment I’ve already given him. Considering everything he’s been through physically and mentally, he was a revelation. He fully compensated for the absence of Antawn Jamison with a deadly pull-up jumper, and Gil’s forays into the paint emanated both creativity and resolve. Plus, Arenas had a way of answering every would-be Maverick run with a huge play of some kind, either with a dagger of his own or a perfectly placed pass. Maybe he wasn’t yelling “HIBACHI!”, but Gilbert Arenas was back in almost every other sense. As a basketball fan, that excites me. As a Mavs fan, not so much.

There were a few bright spots to help mask a pretty disappointing effort. For one, J.J. Barea was a key reason the game didn’t get out of hand sooner. He dominated the second quarter, creating scoring opportunities off the dribble against an opposing team clearly unable to combat his speed and craftiness. Also, the Mavs were set on getting to the basket to start the game. The result was 23 first half free throw attempts, which is just an ungodly amount for the Mavs.

But if you absolutely must take away something from the Mavs’ flub against the Wizards, take this down and circle it: The Mavs were just…off. Dirk Nowitzki hit an unexpected dry spell in the first half, when he shot just 3-12 from the field. Jason Terry’s jumper went half-way down on more than a few occasions. Erick Dampier and Drew Gooden were just slightly out of position to receive an entry pass or challenge a shot. The team defense, the rebounding, and just about everything else was a step slow and a bit flat…and yet the Mavs were still within a stone’s throw of winning this game. Had Foye and Blatche not channeled their inner demi-gods, we could very well be celebrating one in the win column. The Mavs still have a lot of work to do, but they also have nothing but time.

Closing thoughts:

  • The only Mavericks to post a positive +/- were Quinton Ross and Kris Humphries.
  • It wasn’t a great day for the newcomers. Shawn Marion biffed a dunk attempt and horribly airballed a corner three. Drew Gooden airballed a midrange jumper, and found most of his attempts ended up clanging off the rim.
  • Marion’s night wasn’t nearly as miserable as Gooden’s, though. Shawn was able to post up Caron Butler in on the block, and easily converted a few flip shots turning over his left shoulder.
  • In the second quarter, the Mavs surrendered three consecutive and ones to the Wizards, courtesy of Blatche and Fabricio Oberto. Yeah, that sucked.
  • DeShawn Stevenson had no place being on the floor. His three point stroke was miserable, and he could not stay in front of Jason Terry.
  • Rather than the expected small ball lineup, the Mavs fielded a unit of Barea, Terry, Kidd, Marion and Dirk with mixed results.

GOLD STAR OF THE NIGHT: The Gold Star of the Night goes to Dirk Nowitzki,who was unquestionably the best Maverick on the floor. Not only was Dirk the offense’s only net positive, but he was also aggressive on the defensive end, competing for rebounds and blocking a few shots. We even saw glimpses of a few new toys, as Dirk busted out his running hook (it was very short) and a hesitation move off the dribble that froze Brendan Haywood where he stood. A great all around night for Dirk, who managed to salvage a poor start with a fine second half performance and a parade to the free throw line.


Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on October 27, 2009 under xOther | Read the First Comment

  • First and foremost: IT’S OPENING DAY. YEAHHHHHHHH.
  • You know this by now, but Josh Howard will not be playing tonight, and could miss a few weeks.
  • It light of the exhaustive season preview, I’ve opted against putting together a game preview for tonight’s affair with the Wiz. But it’ll still get the full recap treatment for tomorrow.
  • Also, check back later on tonight for a link to a live chat for those looking for company on opening night. You can shout through your keyboard, chant for Beaubois to get playing time, or ask for Shawn Marion’s address so you can send a fruit basket.
  • I made an appearance on The Dagger Report, a new Wizards podcast from Kyle Weidie of Truth About It and Mike Prada of Bullets Forever. It’s worth a listen.
  • Don’t be fooled into thinking that Gilbert Arenas isn’t physically capable of playing well against the Mavs. The question is a matter of want: Will Gil be in attack mode? Or will his new basketball philosophy preclude him from going beserk?
  • Rick Carlisle, via Eddie Sefko: “I believe in playing a playoff-style of basketball…That’s the consistency and the intensity we strive for, but it’s got to be tailored to your personnel.”
  • Marc Stein on Rodrigue Beaubois: “The Mavs quietly believe Beaubois would have been a Rookie of the Year contender — in a race that might prove more open than anticipated in the wake of the fractured kneecap suffered by prohibitive favorite Blake Griffin — had he been drafted by a lottery team. His gifts are obvious: Beaubois has “Tony Parker-like speed and can change games with it,” in the words of one veteran scout; he also has a 6-foot-10 wingspan and a build reminiscent of Boston’s Rajon Rondo.” Stein does indicate that despite his incredible potential, Beaubois could end up spending some time in the NBDL.
  • Donnie Nelson on Beaubois, as per the same Stein piece: “We are in the business of winning games…And playing rookies big minutes is not always conducive to winning games…With any young player, you’ve got the instructional component and you’ve got the practical component…You’ve got to be able to use what you’ve learned in the heat of the battle…Roddy has gotten off to a real good start, but you never want to close the door on any playing opportunity. We feel real good about the development he’s getting and being with Jason every day, but you never know. There might come a time or a stretch of games where it makes sense to give him a chance to have the ball in his hands with five seconds to go in the game.”
  • Zac Crain and Eric Celeste keep it casual while breaking down the Western Conference.
  • I love this picture of Rick Carlisle for some reason.
  • An awesome visual breakdown of the homestands/road trips from around the league this season.

Here, There, and Everywhere

Posted by Rob Mahoney on October 9, 2009 under Commentary, Previews | 4 Comments to Read


First of all, if you’ve got $10 to spare, I’d definitely recommend picking up (or really, loading down) a copy of Basketball Prospectus 2009-2010. It’s well worth the dough for over 350 pages of statistical projections and detailed analysis, and in particular, Will Carroll’s feature piece on microfracture surgery. In the interest of full disclosure, I did contribute a blurb for the Mavs section. That said, Kevin Pelton, Bradford Doolittle, and all the contributors have put together a fine, fine book, and I’d consider any NBA fan’s preseason preparation to be incomplete without it.

Second, Kyle Weidie from Truth About It was kind enough to do a Q&A swap with me in anticipation of tonight’s game against the Wiz. You can see my answers to Kyle’s Mavs-centric questions here, and here are Kyle’s answers to my queries:

———-

Rob Mahoney: Who should get the start at shooting guard for Washington?

Kyle Weidie: Well, he’s probably one of the least popular choices in D.C. these days (outside of anything the Redskins do), but I’m going to go with DeShawn Stevenson over the other contenders of Nick Young, Randy Foye and Mike Miller. Because of the other options to backup Arenas at the point (Mike James and the currently injured Javaris Crittenton), Foye will have to fill that role coming off the bench. Miller would be my second choice to start, but his diverse talents will be better served with him being a facilitator for the second unit. And with Young, scoring is not a problem … so I’d rather him pack a punch in that area supplanting the efforts of the Big Three (Arenas, Butler, Jamison).

Stevenson, if fully recovered from back surgery this past off-season … and it’s been so far so good with him, fits well with the Big Three. Partially because he’s started alongside those guys before, but mostly because if he doesn’t try to do too much, he can keep lanes open with his ability to knock down spot-up threes, and since he’s probably the Wizards’ best perimeter defender, he can help alleviate concerns in that area from Arenas and Jamison.

RM: I’ve often considered Brendan Haywood to be one of the more underrated centers in the league. If you were creating a comprehensive list of all the centers in the NBA, where would Haywood rank?

KW: I’ve asserted that Haywood is a top five center in the East with the potential of being in the top 10 league wide. Overall, he’s an underrated player and is the key to the Wizards defense, especially since he’s such an intelligent player who knows how to communicate. On the offensive end, Haywood has been rather robotic in the past, but evidently has developed a mid-range jumper this summer, which is available for bigs in Saunders’ offense, and could really open up the floor for his teammates.

In the East, I’m only putting Shaq, Dwight Howard and Al Horford 100% above Haywood. Sure, we could start arguing when you drop names like Tyson Chandler, Kendrick Perkins, Brad Miller, Jermaine O’Neal, Andrew Bogut, Brook Lopez, and Andrea Bargnani. But I think Haywood wins out because of a variety of issues that each of those guys face (durability, one-dimensional, inexperienced, not really a center, etc.).

Haywood was coming off a career year before he missed most all of last season with a freak injury to his wrist ligament. This being a contract year for him, he has even more reasons to prove himself. All I’m saying is…. keep an eye on him.

RM: Gilbert Arenas has made it very clear that he intends to be all business this season. Does it hurt the Wizards’ marketability/fun-factor to have a less eccentric Gil?

KW: It may hurt his personal marketability, but as far as the team, winning is that end-all-be-all of cures. Winning is fun, marketable, and will help ease Abe Pollin’s pain of paying the luxury tax. I mean, it’s not like Arenas can’t be funny … he has an upcoming TNT/NBA spot with Rainn Wilson … but so far, he’s been all business on the court and off … and when it comes to dealing with local media (he refuses to talk to any media, actually).

I think a lot of it is with him being out so long, Arenas wants to get his swagger back on the court before he kicks his marketing swagger into gear. But even with being out for the past two seasons, his jersey is still the 15th most popular in Europe and 14th in China. In the end, just like the team, winning will bring Arenas back to relevancy. And as soon as that happens, the folks at adidas will be very happy.

RM: Antawn Jamison remains one of the lone bright spots from the Mavs’ 2003-2004 season, even if he never really had a proper place in Dallas. It’s unmistakable that the 2004 trade that sent Jamison to Washington has significantly affected the fates of both franchises, but given everything that we know, would you be for or against the trade of Devin Harris/Jerry Stackhouse for Jamison?

KW: As great as Devin Harris has turned out to be, I still do the trade 100%. Not only is Jamison a good ‘character’ guy, but without him, the Wizards would not have made that four-year playoff run between ’04 and ’08. Surely other moves would have been made had Grunfeld not made the trade, but Jamison fits well with the current unit of Arenas and Caron Butler. Plus, the guy is still a highly capable rebounder and scorer, with a tricky offensive game that will diminish at a much slower rate than most players his age (he turned 33 in June).

RM: Which non-Dirk Mav do you anticipate will give the Wizards the most trouble?

KW: I’m probably going to give Shawn Marion the nod over Jason Terry. The Wizards got killed on the boards, especially offensive rebounds, against the Grizzlies on Tuesday. Marion is tough to keep track of and hard to block out. On Thursday, Flip Saunders said he was going to let Nick Young come off the bench to chase Terry around … and that will be a very difficult task for the third year player still trying to learn the ropes on D. However, I think not allowing second chance points is more key to the Wizards’ success.

———-

Many thanks to Kyle, and check back with him at Truth About It for more on tonight’s game.