If the Mavs’ zone was indeed busted in Game 1, it was Mario Chalmers who busted it. Dallas didn’t seem to have all that much respect for Chalmers’ offensive ability; whether by design or oversight, ‘Rio found himself wide open in the corners, a cue which led Chalmers to drain a pair of back-breaking three-pointers in the second quarter. Both makes were significant in terms of the game’s momentum, but more simply, they were incredibly efficient opportunities granted to a formidable opponent that needs no favors.
To make matters worse, Miami’s success with the corner three went beyond Chalmers. LeBron James, too, found plenty of open space by spotting up in the weak side corner, as did Mike Miller. The result of those three players’ efforts was 5-of-10 shooting on corner threes in Game 1 alone, a completely unacceptable mark for a team that typically does a stellar job of limiting opponents in one of the most efficient zones on the floor.
According to NBA.com’s StatsCube, the Blazers made just eight corner threes in six first-round games against the Mavs on 28 percent shooting. The Lakers made two corner threes in four games on 12 percent shooting. In the Western Conference Finals, the Thunder made just four corner threes in five games on 33 percent shooting. Chalmers may have been encouraged to take control of the offense, but I find it exceedingly hard to believe that Rick Carlisle and Dwane Casey would so willingly concede one of the most efficient shots in the game, particularly given the defensive emphasis given to the corners in the first three rounds of the playoffs.
That’s why this post began in the conditional; though Miami was able to work well against the Mavs’ zone in Game 1, I see no reason why that particular defense is ‘busted’ or solved. It was bested for a single night, as the Heat took advantage of some poor defensive execution.
“We were playing zone and we didn’t buckle down,” DeShawn Stevenson said. “Those are some adjustments that have to come. We’ll look at tape and find that out. We can’t give those guys shots like that because the corner three’s the easiest shot in the NBA.”
“Our zone’s been good all year. They got some shots that we didn’t want them to get, but our zone is good.”
The zone still created a strong defensive front that denied penetration, and still forced the Heat to settle for some tough shots. It also allowed for corner threes and offensive rebounds, but not purely because of the system’s limitations. The zone isn’t a magic solution that can be employed irrelevant of execution; as is the case with any man-to-man or hybrid defense, precise execution is key. The Mavs were on-point in some regards, but they got careless on the periphery of their zone and paid the price. The problems didn’t occur because Dallas ran a zone, but because they didn’t execute it properly.
“They’re good at attacking the paint,” Brendan Haywood said, “and when teams attack the paint and the ball rotates, sometimes the corner three is what you get. Tonight we gave it up to LeBron, Mike Miller — Chalmers hit a couple. Those things happen, but I feel they can be corrected.”
Part of the perceptual problem is the weird stigma of the zone defense that still endures to this day. Every defensive system has its weaknesses, but the zone’s areas of vulnerability are treated as a death sentence. Every offensive board allowed is an indictment. Every made three is a supposed instigator for change. Many expect a shift back to man-to-man D at the first sign of trouble, even when the zone is successfully walling off the paint and swarming opponents who make interior catches. Defensive breakdowns are simply part of the game, and though the zone is often seen as gimmicky or somehow inferior, it’s merely subject to the same costs that come with defensive letdowns of any kind.
You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.
To those struggling to find the fine line between the acknowledgment of Miami’s excellence and the hope provided in the Dallas’ missed opportunities, I empathize. Game 1 has to be viewed in terms of all that the Heat accomplished, but I can’t shed the thought of Dirk Nowitzki’s missed layups, J.J. Barea’s botched runners, Jason Terry’s poor decisions. Credit Miami’s D for their impressive contests — and even for the impact of their potential contests, which clearly had Barea shaking in his boots — but the Mavs can play much better…as long as the Heat defense doesn’t improve yet. We knew this would be a competitive series, but I’m not sure anyone quite expected such an odd start. To credit the Mavs’ offensive failures or the Heat’s defensive successes would be a terrible oversimplification, and yet somewhere in that relationship is the dynamic that could decide the series.
The Dallas zone had its moments, I suppose, but its start to the series was anything but exemplary. Mario Chalmers was able to burn the Mavs with a pair of wide open threes from the corners, but it was the play of Chris Bosh that made things particularly painful for Dallas when in their zone coverage. Bosh finished with five offensive boards in capitalizing on the displacement of the Mavs’ defenders, and his passing from the high post provided a terribly effective counter to the Mavs’ zone look. Rick Carlisle didn’t seem too distressed about the zone’s performance, so I’m curious as to what he saw in Dallas’ Game 1 zone execution that we didn’t; how much zone the Mavs run in Game 2 should provide a more authentic appraisal than anything Carlisle said postgame.
Udonis Haslem and the Heat’s double teamers did a credible job defending Dirk Nowitzki (27 points, 7-18 FG, eight rebounds) by playing passing lanes and limiting Dirk’s attempts. In terms of challenging, the Heat defenders can only do so much; Haslem and Joel Anthony just don’t have the height or length to really alter Nowitzki’s shot, which leaves their means of defending him a bit more reliant on prevention. Anthony couldn’t quite pull that off, but Haslem — with help from Mike Miller and others — was able to put enough pressure on Nowitzki to make him pass out of doubles and rush through many of his possessions against single coverage. Nowitzki needs to get settled in, but Erik Spoelstra is too good of a coach to maintain a static approach against Dirk; he may see the same basic defensive look in Game 2, but the specifics of its implementations (the timing of the double, etc.) will likely change. Nowitzki was able to adjust and attack, but he may have to start that process all over again in Game 2.
Shawn Marion and DeShawn Stevenson were able to have some success in man-to-man coverage against LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, but then the Mavs shifted into zone, the zone failed, and the final product was flawed man-to-man execution that allowed the Heat do do as they willed. James and Wade didn’t have their most aggressive driving games, but they were certainly assertive scorers; the two stars combined to shoot 6-of-9 from three-point range, and several of those attempts came against pretty good defense. The prospect of defending Wade and James is always predicated on concession in some form. Teams often cede long jumpers — both twos and threes — to both James and Wade in the hopes that it lures two of the league’s best creators off the dribble into taking decidedly less efficient shots and stalling their team’s offense in the process. That’s still a semi-effective strategy against Wade (particularly due to his poor shooting from three-point range), but James has somehow become even more unguardable by hitting threes with consistency. Defending against either player is a miserable assignment, defending against both at the same time is just brutal, and defending against both at the same time when they’re hitting 67 percent of their three-point attempts is something I’m not sure the basketball world is — or will ever be — quite ready for.
Nowitzki tore a tendon in his left hand (or on his middle finger, to be more precise) while trying to strip the ball from Bosh on a drive. Had the tear been in his right hand, we’d be looking at a series ender; Dallas needs Dirk producing at an elite level to compete in this series, and a legitimate injury to his shooting hand would be a painful blow. However, the fact that Dirk injured his left hand isn’t exactly irrelevant, consider how crucial his handle and driving ability are to his overall game. It’s no secret that Nowitzki prefers to drive left, and considering how many driving lanes he had in Game 1, a limitation on his handle and finishing ability strikes me as rather significant.
Mike Bibby played 14 minutes, which was probably 14 minutes too long. Mario Chalmers wasn’t perfect, but he was far more productive than Bibby, and the Heat’s no-PG lineups even better than those involving Chalmers. I doubt there will be much of a change in Spoelstra’s rotation at this point in the playoffs, so Dallas needs to take advantage of the time that Bibby sees on a nightly basis.
James actually defended JET to close the game, a matchup that, while stifling and impressively creative, opens up an interesting opportunity. Marion had a fantastic offensive game, but could have been even more involved in the fourth quarter offense by going to work against Miller in the post. Any time that Marion can shed James, he’ll have an offensive advantage on the low block, and while he was able to create from the post a few times throughout the game, I think Marion can be used as an instigator of change. If Marion can be efficient enough in the post against Miller, Spoelstra could be forced to give up on assigning LeBron to chase JET and disrupt the Mavs’ two-man game, which would ultimately open up one effective offense by way of another.
Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood aren’t deserving of scapegoat status, but they have to be better on the glass. Their job (of anchoring the defense, challenging the shots of stretch bigs like Bosh and Haslem, and still hitting the boards) isn’t ideal, but it’s the task placed in front of them. I don’t see how the Mavs win this series without Chandler and Haywood pulling off something of a minor miracle in that regard. Best of luck to ‘em.
Kevin Arnovitz on the ongoing Clipper coaching interviews, which haven’t wrapped as quickly as anticipated: “[Dwane] Casey was thought to be the initial favorite, but a strong performance by Del Negro in the interview process tightened the horse race. According to sources, Del Negro surprised the Clippers with the blueprint he presented to management, specifically his level of organization and his plans for player development. Casey, who has long been on the Clippers’ radar, delivered precisely what the brass expected from a sharp, serious tactician. Despite his best efforts, Casey’s firm grasp of the game and his strong schematic vision for the Clippers weren’t enough to separate him from Del Negro.”
Mike Miller has been thrown around as a potential MLE target, but such a signing would be very ill-advised. Though Dallas does need to clean up the shooting guard position in a general sense, signing Miller to a sizable deal makes very little sense at this point in his career. Not necessarily because he’s aging, but simply because Mike has elected to take his most beneficial skill, douse it in gasoline, and set it on fire. Tom Ziller explains: “For the first eight seasons of his NBA career, he was a great scorer, able to fill the bucket from range consistently. If you had a guard taking 10 or 15 shots a night, you wanted it to be someone as deadly efficient as Miller. But that was, essentially, Miller’s only elite skill. He was an average rebounder, an efforted but often overmatched defender and an only slightly effective passer. He shot, and well, and that’s all you really wanted. Everything changed when Miller was traded to Minnesota in 2008. He went from a deadly gunner to a … wannabe Scottie Pippen? A performance artist protesting the commodization of his pure stroke? I just don’t know.”
What a game, what a game, what a game. In recent weeks, we’ve seen the ‘Race for 8′ transform into a ‘Race to Avoid 8′, and, by definition, a race to avoid the Lakers. The Utah Jazz, who sit just one full game behind the Mavs, were nursing a huge lead against the Clippers, and with two minutes and thirty seconds remaining, the Mavs were down five points to the Timberwolves. Heavy stuff.
But from that point on, the Mavs committed few mistakes. They got exactly the offensive looks they wanted, and capitalized on most of them. They locked down defensively, and ceded a single basket due to unfortunate circumstance alone. Two and a half minutes, a 9-2 run, and nearly flawless execution. In the biggest moments of this game and possibly of the season, the Mavs did not disappoint. Shot after shot, stop after stop, all culminating in a defensive stop by Dirk/Erick Dampier and a huge go-ahead bucket by Jason Terry with 0.2 seconds remaining.
Break it down, now:
Damp cuts down the lane, taking his defender with him and generally causing some confusion with a possible screen for Terry. Instead, Dirk sets a pick for Terry at the elbow, stalling Telfair enough for JET to catch the inbounds pass from Kidd. Terry takes the perfect bounce pass from Kidd on the wing, pump fakes to shed the flying Telfair, and fades slightly on the open 18-footer. I can’t tell you how important that inbounds pass was: if Kidd doesn’t throw the perfectly timed bounce pass, JET pulls up without space or doesn’t have the time to pump fake. You’re looking at a much more difficult shot than the shooting drill look Terry got on the baseline.
But how did things even get to that point? Simply looking at the finale and celebrating the victory is to ignore the misery that was the Mavs’ offense in the second and third quarters, and the defensive woes that stretched throughout. Dirk managed to salvage the third into a semi-productive quarter, but the Mavs missed fourteen straight field goals over nine and a half minutes spanning the second and third quarters. The execution was sloppy, and more than a few quality looks around the rim caught a bad bounce. For once, the Mavs weren’t just lackadaisically settling for jumpers on the perimeter; they were making concentrated efforts to get inside, but just couldn’t finish when they got there. Meanwhile, the Wolves milked mismatches for all they were worth, and took full advantage when they caught the Mavs with their pants down (which happened fairly regularly).
Dirk (34 points, 2-3 3FG, 9 rebounds) was sensational. For what it’s worth, Brian Cardinal was a more formidable opponent for Dirk than any other defender…but Dirk still used Brian like I’ve been using disgusting, snotty, flu-infected tissues, and got almost every look he wanted,. The Wolves eventually shifted to a more aggressive defensive strategy, but Dirk wisely picked his spots, passed out of double teams when needed, and shot over the top when he had the advantage. Dirk used the spin to get plenty of looks in the paint throughout the game, and pump faked his way to 17 free throw attempts. On top of everything, Dirk hit a spinning layup with 41 seconds left to tie the game and put everything in a position to get interesting.
Poor Sebastian Telfair. The game’s final plays were a microcosm of his career. He shot an ill-advised, premature three pointer, banker, hinging his team’s chances on his subpar jumper. He drove inside using his superior quickness, but turned the vall over when Dirk swatted the ball out of his hands. And then, despite having all the physical tools to stay with Jason Terry, he gave JET a quality look at a game-winner which found its way through the net.
It was nice to see Terry (22 points, 10-15 FG) bounce back after watching him struggle in the last two games against New Orleans. I think he hit a big shot somewhere in there.
J.J. Barea (13 points, 3 assists, 3 steals) got the start in place of Josh Howard, and he played beautifully. Nobody could stay in front of him, and Barea mixed in aggressive scoring drives with well-timed passes. Throw in his play on the defensive end, and you’ve got a solid night from a substitute starter.
Mike Miller (18 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists) and Craig Smith (24 points, 8 rebounds) each exploited the Mavs’ defense in their own way, and it wasn’t pretty. Miller gave everyone who tried to defend him trouble, with Kidd’s steal on him in the clutch much more the exception than the rule. Antoine Wright had trouble stopping him, Jason Terry didn’t have the size to contest or the defensive skill to hang with him, and Kidd didn’t guard Miller enough to get a good read. Craig Smith continued the line of Minnesota pivots to terrorize the Mavs. Al Jefferson passed the torch to Kevin Love in the last contest, and Craig Smith took up the task this time around. I’m not sure I understand exactly why Craig Smith was able to take advantage of Erick Dampier and Brandon Bass, and I’m pessimistic that considering the possibilities would do anything other than make my head hurt. He’s undersized, a poor rebounder, and completely reliant on buckets around the basket, and yet the Mavs surrendered 24 points to him without much resistance. The defense wasn’t too bad otherwise, but this dull spot may be enough to put a significant damper on the evening.
GOLD STAR OF THE NIGHT: The Gold Star of the Night goes to Jason Terry. Breaking out of a mini-slump always deserves some consideration, but the JET sealed the deal by keying the fourth quarter offense with 11 points on 5-7 shooting and hitting the big one.
“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”
-William Arthur Ward
It was only a win over the lowly Timberwolves, who boast a .280 win percentage. It was only a victory in a game that was assumed as such. It was only a blowout in what deserved to be one, against a team that was missing two of their best players.
But boy did that feel good.
Back-to-back losses of the heartbreaking (Denver) and soul-crushing (Cleveland) varieties made an otherwise pedestrian win all the more delicious. There’s no reason the Mavs should have lost last night’s game, and they didn’t. They showed up, blew the Wolves out of the water, refused to concede their substantial lead, and finished the game with ease. That’s exactly the kind of win the Mavs need at this point in the season and their closing schedule. Wins aren’t just wins, but exercises in execution and boosts in the ever-important confidence level in a team that will surely be a playoff underdog.
The Mavs’ offense was white-hot, and for once wasn’t completely reliant on jumpshots. Almost every Mav was getting into the paint at ease, and Jason Kidd using laser-guided passing to cutters and players with good post position surely didn’t hurt. Essentially, the Mavs did everything right offensively. Want Dirk and JET to bust out of their mini-slumps? Boom, 44 combined points on 20-34 shooting. Think the Mavs need to get more easy baskets? Pow, 55% shooting overall, including a plethora of looks right around the rim. Tired of seeing a lethargic Josh Howard? Well golly gee, he was active on both ends on his way to 14 points (6-12 FG) and 6 rebounds in just 22 minutes. Rest for the weary? Kidd, Dirk, and Terry got to take catnaps on the bench, and finished a combined 15 minutes under their season averages.
Oddly enough, the Mavs only attempted 11 free throws despite a renewed commitment to get into the paint. Chalk it up to a Timberwolves defense that often wasn’t even in a position to foul, a Maverick team resolved to get good looks inside, and the mentality of a team staring down a significant deficit.
James Singleton (11 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks), J.J. Barea (9 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds), and Brandon Bass (8 points, 4 rebounds) went out and did their jobs. Some of that came in garbage time, and some of it came in what basically amounted to third quarter garbage time, but their solid contributions made everything that much easier. There’s nothing wrong with going with the flow, succeeding without pushing the issue, and allowing the starters their aforementioned rest.
Kevin Love gave the Mavs some trouble, but how can you really complain when his shots and Mike Miller’s were practically the only ones falling? The Mavs could have done a better job on those two, but it’s always hard to maintain defensive intensity when nursing a lead hovering around 20. Both are talented offensive players, and I’m not going to beat the Mavs up about it. You hold a team to 39.8% shooting and win by 20, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.
It’s hard to pinpoint specifics that could really help the Mavs going into the postseason, but a win like this is best appreciated in a general sense. So chalk up the V, give the guys a round of applause, and get pumped for tonight’s game against Miami.
GOLD STAR OF THE NIGHT: The Gold Star of the Night goes to Josh Howard. Via Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News: “‘A world of difference,’ said James Singleton. ‘He brings so much to the table, it’s like a different team.’”
He only played 22 minutes, and only seemed limited in terms of his timing and conditioning. I noticed him grabbing his shorts a bit. But it’s great to have him back, and 14 points on 50% shooting is a smooth first game back. Glad to have you back (again), Josh.
Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning New wrote a piece outlining which of the Mavs’ assets are the most tradable, and also gives a pretty hefty list of potential targets that could be on Dallas’ radar. Pure speculation? Maybe. But Mike Fisher of DallasBasketball.com thinks there’s more to it, and that there may be some legitimate team sentiment behind the rumors.
Dallas needs to do something. Rotation shake-ups and motivational speeches have gone just about as far as they can go. The team has some appealing assets and they have plenty of needs. There are really two questions though. First, can the Mavs even get the “right deal” done? And second, does the “right deal” do enough to get the Mavs out of the first round of the playoffs? The fan in me says yes, but the realist in me says no. To say it’s an uphill battle is underselling it.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun with it, right? So without further ado, a breakdown of each of Sefko’s proposed trades:
Jerry Stackhouse and Erick Dampier to Sacramento for Brad Miller and Kenny Thomas.
Why it works: The trade turns Stack’s contract into a player that’s immediately useful in Brad Miller, and Dallas doesn’t sacrifice 2010 cap flexibility. Miller finally gives Mavs fans the scoring from the center position that they’ve always pined for, and he’s a much better passer than Dampier. When Miller is focused, his ability to facilitate the offense can really open things up for the fringe contributors on the team. Kenny Thomas also gives the Mavs another look at the second string power forward (or third string, whatever), and he’s not as bad as you probably think he is. The Kings aren’t playing him, but Thomas hasn’t been all that bad in his few appearances for Sacramento this season, and could be able to contribute to a playoff team.
Why it doesn’t: Brad Miller just so happens to occupy the same offensive space as Dirk, meaning that someone is going to be out of their comfort zone on almost every play. Miller also happens to be an inferior post defender, shot-blocker, and rebounder to Dampier. Granted that Miller is in fact a more gifted scorer than Damp, he also relies on a higher usage rate that could require taking touches away from Dirk, Josh, and JET in order to accomodate Miller’s usual production. Is that worth it? Probably not. You might be able to argue that this trade slightly favors Dallas, but even so it would be a marginal upgrade at best.
Jerry Stackhouse and Brandon Bass to Golden State for Stephen Jackson.
Why it works: This one is definitely the most interesting to me. The 2 guard has been a problem all season, and Antoine Wright/Gerald Green/Dwane Casey’s kid probably aren’t the answer. Wright’s passable some nights and unspectacularly awful others, and Green ranges from smile-worthy offensive explosion to migraine-inducing “rookie mistake” factory. Jax would give the Mavs a great defender, a vocal leader, and a player who can drive, shoot, and set up his teammates. Plus, this trade would give Dallas a quality wing player without giving up Josh Howard.
Why it doesn’t: The bench would be a disaster. Who plays power forward? James Singleton? Ryan Hollins? Shawne Williams? It wouldn’t be pretty on the backlines, and Dallas would be hit hard in the low post and on the boards. Or, I guess Carlisle could just play Dirk for 43 minutes a night. That would work really well. But the trouble doesn’t stop there; Stephen Jackson signed what is actually a pretty reasonable three-year, $28 million extension this season. The wittle bitty problem with that is the fact that Jackson is nearly 31 right now, and at the end of his deal (2012-2013), he would be 35 years old. Who knows how productive he’ll be by that time, and it could be a nightmare to move an aging wing scorer if things don’t work out.
Jerry Stackhouse and Brandon Bass to Chicago for Andres Nocioni.
Why it works: Noc gives the Mavs another weapon off the bench, or possibly a small forward to start alongside Howard. He can stretch the floor, he’s a physical player, and would add firepower to a team that has trouble scoring at times.
Why it doesn’t: Nocioni’s contract is entirely too long, stretching to 2012-2013 (although that last year is a team option). Some might call him an “irritant,” but I merely cite him as the primary example under the dictionary definition of “fake hustle.” He’s almost constantly overaggressive both in terms of shot attempts and fouls, and while he is a physical defender he isn’t that great at D in general. Trading Bass would open up a huge hole at the 4 (see above), and while Chicago may play Noc at the 4 for stretches, Dallas should have no business doing that. He’s 6’7”, 201, and just tends to push people in the back. Not exactly a dream come true. Plus, his better offensive days look more like an exception than a rule at this point.
Jerry Stackhouse and Brandon Bass to Minnesota for Mike Miller.
Why it works: Mike Miller is a great player on the down year of all down years, somehow appearing to be one of the worst players in the Wolves’ regular rotation. And that’s saying something. I’d find it hard to believe that the Real Mike Miller isn’t buried beneath layer upon layer of Minnesota-induced psychosis, and the Mavs would hope to save Miller from himself. When he’s rolling, he’s creating for his teammates, getting to the hoop, and one of the deadliest shooters in the game. When he’s not, well, just look at his stats on the season. Not too pretty.
Why it doesn’t: This trade doesn’t really seem like a possibility. All indications point to Minny demanding back more compensation that just Bass and an expiring deal, and I’m sure they have their eyes on draft picks around the league. Beyond that, Miller only makes the Mavs better at doing what they already do: shooting. He would fix the starting shooting guard problem but open up the power forward Pandora’s Box, which could actually end up being a wash. On top of that, there’s no guarantee that Miller won’t continue his reign as the Archduke of the Royal Principality of EPIC FAIL.
Jerry Stackhouse and Erick Dampier to Toronto for Jermaine O’Neal.
Why it works: It really, really doesn’t.
Why it doesn’t: Probably the worst deal on the list. Turn our prized expiring deal and a healthy starting center into a possibly-more-talented-but-definitely-more-washed-up, oft-injured center. Where do I sign up?
Brandon Bass To Detroit for Arron Afflalo.
Why it works: Arron Afflalo is exactly the type of young point guard the Mavs want to have going forward. He’s already a good defender, shoots well, and plays the game without forcing the issue or making careless mistakes. Another quality young playerdrafted by Joe Dumars. Plus, dude has an awesome name.
Why it doesn’t: This trade could only make sense in tandem with another deal that would bring in frontcourt depth. The Mavs already have J.J. Barea, Jason Terry, and even Matt Carroll to back-up Kidd if the situation calls for it, while Brandon Bass is the only line of defense between a potential Dirk Nowitzki energy and complete Maverick apocalypse. I love Afflalo’s game and I love his potential, but this move doesn’t make sense for Dallas right now.
Jerry Stackhouse and Brandon Bass to Oklahoma City for Earl Watson.
Why it works: I’m not really sure. I guess Earl Watson would be another Kidd back-up, or possibly an insurance policy if Dallas decides to go another way this summer. Otherwise, I’m speechless.
Why it doesn’t: Earl Watson just isn’t that good. His jumper is errant, his playmaking skills are slightly above average, and his defense is unimpressive. There’s a reason that his “steady veteran presence” has made its rounds throughout the league, let’s just put it that way. Plus, giving up an expiring deal and arguably Dallas’ most promising young player for a piece that doesn’t fit on the team, isn’t a youngster, and isn’t anything better than average seems awfully silly.
Josh Howard and J.J. Barea to Charlotte for Raja Bell and Raymond Felton.
Why it works: Raymond Felton would be the Mavs’ point guard of the future and Raja Bell would be a capable starting 2 guard who still retains some of the skills of a lockdown defender. At once, this trade will fill a glaring hole for the Mavs at the 2 and procure Kidd’s protégé.
Why it doesn’t: The Mavs are giving up quite a bit for two ill-fitting pieces. Josh Howard is still a hotbed of talent, whether he can harness it or not. J.J. Barea not only holds status as a Mavericks folk hero, but penetrates well, knows when to look for his own shot, and has plenty of time to improve on a perfectly reasonable contract. Meanwhile, Raymond Felton would possibly be forced into the shooting guard slot alongside Kidd or in a back-up role, meaning that he won’t have experience running the point full-time when he takes over and/or he won’t have the added experience of playing against top-flight players. Meanwhile, Raja Bell could be an interesting addition to the Mavs roster if it still featured Howard, but in this case filling the hole at the 2 leaves an even bigger one at the 3. Devean George might actually start. I’m doing my best to keep in my enthusiasm. Beyond that, Felton isn’t a great shooter, has stalled at times in his progression, and Raja Bell is already a shade behind his former self and only getting worse.
Photo from NBA.com
Josh Howard and Brandon Bass to Memphis for Mike Conley and Darko Milicic.
Why it works: Mike Conley is going to be a stud. He has all the physical tools required of a great point guard, and while his play has been up and down, I see the good in him. He’s probably the best option listed here in terms of young guards, and the Grizz apparently aren’t entirely opposed to the idea of parting ways with him. If Memphis was rumored to be interested in Milwaukee’s Ramon Sessions and Joe Alexander for Conley, why wouldn’t they be interested in Howard/Bass? Darko on the other hand, despite his neverending status as a 2003 Draft punchline, is a pretty decent big man. Like Conley, he’s had good days and bad. But he’s also a legit 7-foot shot blocker with plenty of room to grow and a nice presence in the low post.
Why it doesn’t: It doesn’t help the Mavs this season. Darko would be able to play either power forward or center on any given night, but the small forward position would be awful. Conley doesn’t fill any specific short-term need,and would be a luxury I’m not sure the Mavs can afford on a roster that needs some help.