Heard It Through the OPENING DAY Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on October 26, 2010 under xOther | Be the First to Comment

  • Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie previews the Mavs’ season, which he pegs for 52 wins (though Dwyer notes that such a mark is easily beatable by this collective): “…as much as age sets in, and as much as a lack of depth will likely keep the Mavericks away from the ranks of the championship contender, Dallas will still field a sound rotation of basketball players that will give them a chance to beat every team – every single one of them – soundly on any given night. Even if Jason Kidd won’t be able to pop jumpers all night as a threat off of a screen and roll, and if Dirk finally does decide to not act like an All-NBA player, the core is good enough to keep this team competitive, and in the race for that distant second spot behind the Los Angeles Lakers.” Also, the Brian Cardinal picture is worth a click-through alone.
  • Check out The Basketball Jones’ season preview for the Mavs, and while you’re at it, the Jones’ first full-length episode of the season. Rejoice!
  • Mike Fisher of DallasBasketball.com: “I suppose there is a fine line between being ‘detail-oriented’ and being a ‘dictatorial control freak.’…let’s put Rick Carlisle and the Mavs coaching staff in the former category, shall we? Remember one of Rick’s main gripes about his players in the San Antonio playoff series: Dallas didn’t win its share of the “50-50 balls,’’ that is, the loose balls on the floor that can be gathered up to gain or retain possession, that can be fast-break starters, momentum-grabbers, game winners. On Sunday, guess what the Mavs worked on? Hustle and angles and attacking, all as they relate to loose balls. A basketball version of football’s ‘fumble drills,’ basically.”
  • Von Wafer (Celtics), Mo Ager (Timberwolves), Jeremy Lin (Warriors), D.J. Mbenga (Hornets), Pops Mensah-Bonsu (Hornets), Shawne Williams (Knicks), and Malik Allen (Magic) all made opening day rosters. Jake Voskuhl, Dwayne Jones, J.R. Giddens, and Joe Crawford did not. (Thanks to Scott Schroeder of Ridiculous Upside for compiling a hell of a list.)
  • From Sports Illustrated’s “NBA Enemy Lines” feature, in which an opposing scout gives his take on a given NBA team: “Their big pickup, Tyson Chandler, is important to them because teams anticipate being able to penetrate from the top against Kidd, Terry and Barea, who all have a hard time keep anybody in front of them. So now the Mavericks should be able to bring over a big guy to meet the penetration, whether it’s Chandler or Brendan Haywood. The fundamental problem remains on the perimeter, but at least now they have some long and mobile big guys who are capable of changing shots. Haywood doesn’t excite anyone too much, but he’s serviceable as a long guy you have to shoot over. I hear people saying he’s soft, but I think that’s a bad rap. He’s effective and he has a nice right hook. Most of the time he’ll be able to turn to that shoulder and get off the shot whenever he wants.” For the record, haven’t heard much of anyone calling Haywood soft. You?
  • A handy tidbit from Jason Terry (via Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News): “We have 17 of 26 games at home to start the season, so we need to set a tone.”
  • Shawn Marion has a lot of faith in Tyson Chandler’s ability to make an impact on defense.
  • Tyson Chandler, from his official site: “To do that, we have to have strong leadership and it’s been great working with a dedicated owner like Mark Cuban. Cube, as we call him, is dope. He’s a cool-cat. He obviously loves the game and he loves to be around it. We know that we have a passionate owner and that’s always a good thing. His only motivation is to win championships…I’m so happy to get a chance to play with two of the best in the game at what they do in Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki. J-Kidd is the ultimate professional. He comes in to work every day and he sees things that I don’t even know if a coach can see. But he sees them in real time, right there on the floor, in the flow of the game. He’s an incredible passer and he’s definitely going to improve my game. Dirk has always been an incredible scorer and an assassin on the offensive end and that’s coming from me being on the other side. Now, getting to watch that daily, I see why he’s one of top players in our league. He’s almost unstoppable.”
  • Mark Followill’s scouting report on Dominique Jones for DallasBasketball.com: “Jones has the strength, tenacity and desire it would appear to defend well at this level, although he has been caught reaching a few times this preseason rather than playing solid defense by using his feet. The weakest part of his game right now is definitely the outside jump shot. Improving that doesn’t appear to be a mechanical issue, but more about spending time in the gym working on it and developing confidence.   I’ve seen some good decisions from him with the ball when he drives in terms of passing. I don’t think that makes him a point guard, but its good he can make smart decisions if he is going to be getting down into the paint with regularity.”

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on September 22, 2010 under xOther | Read the First Comment

Heard It Through the Weekend Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on August 22, 2010 under xOther | Be the First to Comment

  • Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference.com used offensive and defensive ratings to determine team offensive performance relative to the league average. From there, he determined which players (with a 15,000 career minutes qualifier) have played in the best offenses throughout their careers. Steve Nash topped the list. Dirk Nowitzki came in at ninth. Those rankings may not mean much to the role players on the list (Raja Bell, for instance, is eighth) but for stars like Nash and Dirk? It’s a testament to just how incredible they are as offensive centerpieces, both together and apart.
  • Kelly Dywer’s positional rankings continue, with Jason Terry coming in as no. 20 among shooting guards while Rodrigue Beaubois trails him slightly at no. 25. Pretty fair. Dwyer concedes to a conservative ranking on Beaubois in fear of a minutes mirage, and rightfully so. Plus, as Beaubois gets more and more playing time and is featured more and more prominently in the Mavs’ offense, he’ll face a series of increasingly difficult tests. We should all be pretty excited to see how Beaubois responds.
  • Dwyer has also begun his small forward rankings, but there’s no sign of Shawn Marion in the first intallment.
  • Maurice Ager is in serious discussions to sign with the Knicks. Color me curious.
  • Bookmaker.com seems to think there’s a 15% chance of Dirk Nowitzki converting to Judaism during the 2010-2011 season. He trails Chris Bosh, Kobe Bryant, Rajon Rondo, Kevin Durant, Deron Williams, and Steve Nash in that regard. DIRK CAN’T GET NO RESPECT.
  • Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk on Caron Butler giving back: “Caron Butler this summer did his annual ‘Bike Brigade’ in his hometown of Racine, Wisconsin, where he gave away hundreds of bicycles to area youth. He hosts annual back-to-school drives like he did in Washington DC last year, he has hosted numerous charity basketball games, he went to Johannesburg, South Africa, to conduct free basketball clinics. I could probably fill up the Internet with Butler’s charity endeavors. He’s quick to tell you that he does all this because he wants to, because he wants to give back to the community. He’s sincere and he cares. He isn’t organizing and attending events for  the publicity or to save some money come April 15. And he said there are a lot of players out there like him. ‘I think there are other guys out there doing it,’ Butler told PBT last week. ‘This is something I’ve been doing since day one, since I got into the league. I probably just had a camera crew out after four or five years of doing it… after a while people just started paying more attention to what I was doing and understand that what I did was from my heart and I was passionate about it. That wasn’t just a once a year thing, this was something I was committed to year in and year out. And I do believe there are other guys out there like that.’”
  • Jeremy Lin does New York.

Guess Who’s Coming to Vegas?

Posted by Rob Mahoney on July 3, 2010 under Commentary, News | 2 Comments to Read

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images.

Vegas Summer League is not only a who’s who of emerging, just-drafted talent, but also a nice survey of the draftees, foreign prospects, and campus legends of yesteryear. It’s as much about investigating newfound talent as it is about rediscovering those that have long been buried. Shan Foster is such a prospect, even if he’s never really gotten a fair NBA shake. However, two notable names have popped up on Vegas roster that should be somewhat interesting to Mavs fans: Gerald Green and Mo Ager.

Green is a typical false prophet; though his raw materials may seem divine, the final product spins truths and speaks falsehoods. His insane physical skills have somehow blasphemed both the laws of nature and his own basketball future. He’s had chances in Dallas, in Houston, in Minnesota, and in Boston, but no good ever came of it. Just scoring bursts, heat checks, and defensive headaches.

This summer, Gerald will have the opportunity to flex those same skills for the Lakers. Regardless of what happens, understand that this is exactly the kind of competition Green was made for: unglorified pick-up ball with only the slightest preparations. I doubt every shot will be his for the taking, but he’s going to get his fair share, and there are times where he’ll look like a legitimate NBA pro. He’s not. Or at least, he wasn’t, the last we saw of him. Players can and do change, but unless there was a cataclysmic shift in Gerald’s psyche, all of the flash in the world isn’t going to turn him into a real boy.

Ager, who will be playing for the Hornets, is something else entirely. While much was never really expected out of Mo from those on the outside, he’s still a former first rounder and a bit of a wayward selection. The Mavs’ brass selected Ager with the 28th pick in the ’06 draft, and they can only hope the 25th pick in the ’10 draft doesn’t turn out similarly. I’m very excited to see what Dominique Jones is capable of in the big leagues, but the similarities between he and Ager are painfully apparent. Mo was never quite as prolific, and they aren’t identical physical specimens, yet it’s clearly not impossible for Jones to follow a similar career path. All of this will be determined with far more certainty at a later date, but for the moment, Dominique is perhaps even less likely to pan out as an NBA mainstay than he is to go the way of Mo.

Heard It Through the Grapevine

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

  • Jason Terry, maybe, possibly, probably a little bit frustrated (via Earl K. Sneed):”It’s unbelievable to me that we’ve come halfway through the season and we still look like we’re searching in the fourth quarter. It’s not that hard. The fourth quarter, that wasn’t Maverick basketball.”
  • Seth Pollack of Bright Side of the Sun: “Switching picks was certainly also a big key to the Suns defense in the fourth quarter. With that group on the floor they were able to mix it up and didn’t let the Mavericks use screens to get open looks like they had earlier in the game. Physical, smart, aggressive defense. About as common of a sight in Phoenix as snow but just as exciting and welcome.”
  • Among the best players never to make the All-Star Game: Jason Terry and Derek Harper. Kevin Pelton, of Basketball Prospectus, on Harper: “Harper was probably the first person I thought of when I considered the best non-All-Stars before looking at the numbers. It’s hard to believe he never made it once while posting 10-plus WARP every season from 1986-87 through 1990-91, especially considering he was doing it with a good Dallas team. However, Harper was caught in a numbers crunch in the Western Conference. Magic Johnson and John Stockton were locks, leaving Harper fighting for spots with Kevin Johnson, Terry Porter and eventually Tim Hardaway (all three of whom made it in 1991, giving the West an unthinkable five point guards). Oh, and did I mention Fat Lever and Sleepy Floyd? Yes, the late ’80s and early ’90s were not a good time to be a West point guard.”
  • M. Haubs of The Painted Area has put together an incredible piece on Ricky Rubio. I am very much of the Church of Ricky, and to have comprehensive updates like this on Rubio’s progress is just brilliant. But, of particular interest: Haubs wonders if the best comparison for Rubio is, perhaps, Jason Kidd.
  • Last night’s loss sealed it: Rick Carlisle is officially out of the running to coach the Western Conference All-Stars.
  • Chad Ford (Insider) picks the Mavs as one of the teams most likely to strike a deal before the deadline.
  • Network programming note: Kurt Helin of the Lakers blog, Forum Blue and Gold, has been called up to the big leagues. Some congratulations are in order, and I have nothing but the utmost respect for Kurt and his writing.
  • The thing you may not have considered about Jason Terry’s blunt comments at halftime (via Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic): “The Suns already were in the locker room for halftime and were able to take in Dallas guard Jason Terry’s walk-off interview with TNT’s Cheryl Miller. Terry said, ‘We’ve got to score on these guys. They’re not very good defensively.’ It was the truth, but the Suns players still were fired up by the comment. It just didn’t carry over to the court, where the Suns starters proved Terry right by allowing Dallas to score on eight consecutive trips early in the third quarter.”
  • Maurice Ager: D-Leaguer.
  • Where have you gone, Dan Dickau? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you. Woo, woo, woo. (Also: Tony Delk.)
  • Just in case you have a random interest in Indiana’s Roy Hibbert, be sure to check out this collection of thoughts compiled by Jared Wade of Eight Points and Nine Seconds. It’s a great group of writers/bloggers, and worth the read.

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on December 31, 2009 under xOther | Be the First to Comment

  • Your Dallas Mavericks are the biggest underachievers of the decade. Not exactly the kind of accolade you’d like, but the facts speak for themselves in this case: A decade of good teams and opportunities have brought back little in terms of hardware.
  • On a similar note, John Hollinger named the Mavs the best team of the decade to not win a championship. Yup. Shawn Marion was also dubbed the second most underrated player of the 2000s.
  • Kevin Pelton ranked the 2005-2006 Mavs the 16th best team of the decade, as determined primarily by point differential: “Take away the NBA Finals and this is your best runner-up of the decade. Actually, take away the last three games and one quarter of the Finals and this is one of the best teams of the decade. For that matter, take away Bennett Salvatore and … never mind.”
  • Go ahead and add a sore hamstring to Josh Howard’s list of lingering injuries.
  • I spend a lot of time defending Erick Dampier, but this time, he’s gone and done something (or rather, said something) so completely nonsensical that I wouldn’t even think to touch it. Carl Landry is all kinds of tough.
  • Whoops.
  • There’s a popular notion that the ‘feeling out’ process between a team and its coach is critical to establishing a functional relationship. That may be true, but Rick Carlisle is firmly opposed to the next step in the process, in which the players become a bit too comfortable.
  • Mavs’ second round pick Nick Calathes talked to HoopsTV about playing in Greece, his college experience at Florida, and of particular interest to us, his future with the Mavs: “I talked to coach Carlisle since I’ve been here and I have talked to Mark Cuban. I was going to play in the summer league (Las Vegas), but FIBA made a rule saying that I couldn’t. So I have stayed in close contact with them throughout the year. I think Dallas could be a great fit for me, maybe in the future, but right now I am focused only on Panathinaikos and hopefully we can win the Euroleague championship again this year and we’ll go from there.”
  • ‘Where are they Now?’, featuring Tariq Abdul-Wahad and Mo Ager.
  • An unexpected weapon in the offense this season: the Jason Kidd-Erick Dampier pick-and-roll. The two biggest surprises in Erick Dampier’s game have been his hands and his quickness going up with the ball, both of which are absolutely critical to the PnR’s success.
  • Just in case you forgot, the Mavs don’t shoot threes all that well, and don’t score at the rim. Two-point jump shots are the bread and butter of the Dallas offense, and while that doesn’t translate to elite offensive efficiency (or hasn’t…YET), it is what it is. The Mavs are some of the best in the biz at what they do. It just so happens that what they do isn’t the most efficient way to but a ball through a hoop.
  • Matt Carroll is the master of his domain. Unfortunately, that domain begins and ends with the confines of the practice facility.
  • The player of the decade isn’t Dirk Nowitzki, and it’s not Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, or Kevin Garnett, either. Tim Duncan is the one true king of the 2000s, and his glory is indisputable. Mavs fans have had the fortune and misfortune to see Duncan go to work on many occasions, and while that’s hardly a good thing for Dallas, it’s a great thing for fans of the game. Hail, hail, Tim Duncan.
  • If this year’s All-Stars were determined by advance statistics (adjust plus-minus, and PER, specifically), then…well, Dirk would still be a starter. Some of the other selections may surprise you, though.
  • Nope.