Player Valuations: Ryan Hollins

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 18, 2009 under Commentary, xOther | Be the First to Comment

Specs: Center.  7’0”, 215 lbs.

2008-2009 Stats: (as a Maverick)  2.7 PPG,  1.3 RPG, 58.8% FG,  6.4 PER

Why we want him: Depth at center.  Ditching Diop’s huge contract was a must, and getting back Matt Carroll and Hollins was just gravy.  Without Diop filling the need at back-up center, the Mavs are now left with the four-headed hideously ugly monster of Brandon Bass, James Singleton, Dirk, and Hollins.  That is one weird looking creature.  Rick Carlisle is mostly reluctant to give Hollins many real, in-game responsibilities, mostly because his offensive game is limited and he fouls like it’s going out of style.  He also happens to be just three pounds heavier than Matt Carroll, despite the fact that he plays center and he’s half a foot taller.  Hollins is still very much a project, but his athleticism and spring-loaded shot-blocking give the team a unique look.

Why they want him: There was a time where project centers were mythical beasts that could be tamed, and their powers harnessed. Their masters were considered the most powerful lords in all the land.  That day is gone.  There just isn’t much of a market these days for big guys without good ball skills, regardless heavenly hops and skyscraping reach.

Trade value: Very low.  Ryan Hollins hasn’t done enough to catch the eye of other teams.  Plus, because Hollins was just acquired via trade, he won’t be able to be included in a deal that includes other Mavericks.  The Mavs would be able to trade Hollins individually, but a deal involving Hollins in conjunction with any other Maverick would be illegal.  Hollins’ contract this season pays him $972,581, an amount which won’t be fetching superior value anytime soon.

Likelihood of Being Traded Before the Deadline: In honor of Jim Jackson, former Maverick and the most stereotypical NBA journeyman to ever journey, man, each player’s likelihood of being traded will be evaluated using the Jim Jackson Index (JJI; a scale of 0-5):

0.5 Jim Jacksons out of 5.

Dallas Mavericks 105, Orlando Magic 95

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 3, 2009 under Recaps | 3 Comments to Read

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images.

Box ScorePlay-By-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.”
-Oscar Wilde

The Mavs put together another complete performance, but this time around things were different.  This wasn’t against the Warriors, or the Heat.  This one was big, and it was against the contending Orlando Magic.  I like what I saw.

Somehow, a Dallas outfit that has been miserable in guarding the three point line turned a group of “snipers” into kids with cap guns, firing blanks at every opportunity.  A lot of credit goes to both Carlisle and the players themselves, who combined a solid gameplan with excellent execution.  Looking to the box score, it may seem like the Mavs were absolutely grilled inside.  This is entirely true.  Dwight Howard awakened his inner Hakeem as he threw in hook after hook, and he finished the night with 35 and 11.  But this time, Dwight’s dominance was by design.  Erick Dampier has shown himself to be a capable one-on-one post defender in the past, and tonight he was given the task of derailing Howard with no help from the weak side.  That not only forces Dwight to (theoretically) force up errant shots, but also keeps the ball out of the hands of Orlando’s shooters, who typically capitalize on Dwight’s ability to draw double teams.  Nuh-uh.  Not last night.  Wing defenders were all over the place, and their efforts were bolstered by a poor shooting effort by the Magic.  Even when they had open looks, the Magic shooters were hearing Maverick footsteps.  Or maybe they were just cold.  Whatever.

The offense just rolled and rolled, snowballing into a monster during the late 3rd and early 4th.  Josh Howard was aggressive early but struggled a bit with his shot, and Jason Terry seemed a bit off the entire night.  That didn’t stop Dallas from claiming a 7-point lead at halftime, largely behind the efforts of Dirk Nowitzki (29 points, 12-21 shooting).  Dirk was the anchor during the tough stretches, and his work was rewarded by a supporting cast that came around and a defense that made life easier for everyone in blue (body, not trim).

Ryan Hollins actually broke a sweat tonight, playing and fouling out in 11 minutes.  Some of his fouls seemed ticky-tacky to be honest, but that’s the way it goes when you’re young, and that’s the way it goes when you’re Ryan Hollins.  He still put his imprint on the game though, manning the center position for a key third quarter stretch in which the Mavs went +13.  Hollins and Dampier didn’t exactly shackle Dwight Howard, but they did make him work for his points one way or another.  Any other night, y’know, one where he doesn’t make around 10 hook shots, and Dwight’s stat line looks a lot more palatable to Mavs fans.

Magic point guard Jameer Nelson dislocated his right shoulder while fighting with Dampier for a loose ball.  I’ve loved Nelson’s play all season, and it’s a shame that this had to happen just after Nelson’s first All-Star selection.  Best wishes for a speedy recovery to Jameer.  Although, it should certainly be noted that the Mavs didn’t win this game because Jameer went out.  It certainly didn’t help Orlando, but the Mavs had already “imposed their will” on the game by that point.  He probably could’ve made a difference down the stretch, but the Mavs won this game because they played well, not because Jameer went down.

Three blips on my radar: the Mavs bench was absolutely nuts tonight, standing at all times, jumping up and down, and really showing some love for their teammates.  I love it.  Second, the Magic play some really strange sound effect on made shots.  It sounds like that toy laser gun you had when you were growing up, mixed with the intro synth on any prominent 80s pop song.  Wacky.  And third, I want to give some props to the Magic broadcast team.  I watch a lot of basketball and I’ve heard some pretty biased/blatantly wrong commentary, but this crew was not only fair but incredibly knowledgeable.  They avoided all the classic pitfalls regarding the Mavs, and from the small sample size I’ve heard of them (around 5 games on the season), I’ve been impressed.

Oh, and one final thought: as Mavs fans, we’re not often treated to exquisite dunks.  Sometimes Bass will throw down something fierce, or Dirk will dunk on the break.  But tonight, we witnessed something truly special.  Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Dunktacular Stylings of Sir Erick of Dampier.

I’m moved to recite the words of the infamous Rhinelandic techno/hip-hop group, Lazer, in their epic 2006 track, “M-F-F-L“: “Stand clear of Erick Dampier/Stay out the paint, he’s the man-pier!”

GOLD STAR OF THE NIGHT:

The Gold Star of the Night goes to Jason Kidd, who provided some offense of his own while getting Dampier and co. involved as well.  Dirk really needed a boost to get this team over the hump, and Kidd skipped the shot in the arm method and instead went straight for the jugular.

Heard It Through the Weekend Grapevine 1-24-09/1-25-09

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 25, 2009 under xOther | 5 Comments to Read

  • Mike Fisher of DallasBasketball.com gave a glowing review of Josh Howard’s game against the Pistons: “Really, all we’ve ever asked of Josh Howard – and let’s forget that season-opening campaign from coach Rick Carlisle to proclaim J-Ho “our most important player’’ because while it seemed simply inaccurate then, it now looks like a velvet-gloved attempt to mollycoddle the guy – is to be Dallas’ second-best player.  With 22 points, five rebounds, two steals, a blocked shot and an assist – oh, and with his opposite number Tayshaun Prince making just one basket — mission accomplished for Josh.”It was certainly a great night for Josh, and hopefully a step in the right direction.  It only gets harder today against the Celtics, and the Mavs are definitely going to need Howard’s best.
  • Brandon Bass can be a bit confusing.  Only not in the way you’d think; Bass is confusing because I’m pretty sure that we know exactly who he is, and yet there are games where he appears as a Dampier-esque shade of his true self that lacks the assertiveness and confidence we see with the real Brandon Bass.  Maybe Bass really is taking a page from Damp’s book, sometimes appearing unintrested or otherwise unmotivated.  But the idea that he’s trying to infuse this team with more energy from his first step on the court (a la Jason Maxiell) is certainly a step towards giving the real Bass full-time status.  From Jan Hubbard of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: ” “I wanted to match Maxiell’s energy because every time you watch him, there’s lot of energy and he goes out there and rebounds,” Bass said. “Coming off the [34-point] loss we had against the Bucks, we knew we had to come in and get stops. Being lackadaisical, we can’t get stops. We need tons of energy, so that’s what I tried to come with.” “
  • Mavs Moneyball tackles a classic blunder among criticisms of Dirk’s game: the idea that he doesn’t get to the foul line enough.  I remember scoffing at the comment during the game, and Wes Cox did a great job fleshing out the rebuttal: “And you know what else he’s doing?  He’s getting to the free throw line.  He always has.  He’s 15th in the league this year at FTA per game.  Last year he was 11th.  He’s finished top 15 in that category since the 04/05 season when he was fifth.  For a better a perspective on where he stands compared the league “greats”, coming into the Detroit game, Dirk had attempted just 16 less free throws on the season than Kobe and done so in one less game.  On the list of things Dallas could improve to most help their chances, Dirk shooting more free throws isn’t even top 20.  Thing like playing defense and “showing up” are slightly more important to this team.  Dirk can keep being Dirk.”
  • Dirk seems to be an absolute lock as an All-Star reserve, and rightfully so.  ESPN’s Marc Stein offers the first of what is to be many “ballots” for Dirk to be in Phoenix come All-Star Weekend in the most recent Weekend Dime: “Nowitzki suckered in his critics with a so-so November after turning 30 over the summer. Now? He’s producing at a rate reminiscent of his MVP season in 2006-07 season. Let’s face it: If the coaches were selecting the starters, Dirk would be a unanimous selection at forward alongside Tim Duncan.”It’s worth mentioning that Stein ranks Dirk as having first priority among the Western reserves (meaning he is the #1 snub), and listed Jason Terry as a notable ommission.  Smart man, that Marc Stein.
  • Stein’s Weekend Dime also discusses “Bird rights,” a notable exception to the salary cap that allows teams over the cap to re-sign players who meet specific contract provisions.  But, as Mavs fans found out the hard way in last season’s botched trade attempt for Jason Kidd, those with Bird rights can ultimately veto trades that they are involved in.  “Ryan Hollins was such a character, but in making the move to Dallas he ultimately had to void his Bird rights.  The athletic-but-unpolished Hollins was one of 13 such players in the club this season … as is George yet again. But Hollins — unlike his new teammate last February — had zero hesitation when asked to sanction this deal. Knowing that the Mavs, after shedding Diop, had no true backup center behind Erick Dampier, Hollins was eager to come to the Western Conference to try to kick-start his career with the athletically challenged Mavs after two-plus seasons of limited opportunities with the Bobs.  The 24-year-old had to forfeit his Bird rights as a result, which means George remains the only Mav who falls under this classification….Players on the following list lose their Bird rights and become a non-Bird free agent at season’s end if, like Hollins, they give consent to be traded in these circumstances.”If I’m not mistaken, this ultimately means that even if the Mavs fall in love with Hollins’ raw rawness and jump-out-the-gym acrobatics, they could be stuck in a tough situation in terms of re-signing him.  Something to keep an eye on as the off-season approaches, especially if Hollins does some good in the near future.
  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News weighs in with the gravitas, or maybe lack thereof, in Sunday’s game: “The Mavericks are playing with house money.  They can’t afford to think that way, of course, but then again, free-wheeling sometimes produces the best basketball.  With a 2-1 record on this, the longest road trip of the season, they go to Boston knowing they will return home Sunday night no worse than 2-2.  Not many teams go into the defending champion’s house and come away with a win. A loss would be nothing to be ashamed of.  And a win would mean a 3-1 trip and would show a national audience the Mavericks are not to be overlooked in the NBA’s big picture.”The NBA is all about drama, folks: WIN, OR…SUFFER ABSOLUTELY NO UNIQUE CONSEQUENCES BECAUSE NO ONE THINKS YOU’RE WORTH A DAMN ANYWAY.  You could cut the tension with a knife!
  • Tim MacMahon of The Dallas Morning News Mavs blog is re-living this KG vs. Dirk debate from last season.  Both are exceptional players, and very few would argue against that.  But exactly how much weight does that damn giant ring bring into the equation?  Dirk does things on the offensive end that Garnett could only dream of doing, and many of his less informed advocates refuse to acknowledge that like Dirk, he too is a jumpshooter.  Only Garnett is a jumpshooter who couldn’t make it out of the first round for most of his career, only made it out when pared with two premier scoring talents, and only made it to the Finals with two other established superstars.  What Dirk has been able to do with, what has been at times, an incredibly pedestrian cast of talent around him is incredible.  But on the flipside, Garnett’s defensive prowess is unparalleled, he’s an excellent motivator and leader, and a better rebounder.  Those skills are great, but I just don’t think they match-up all that favorably to Dirk’s ability to single-handedly turn a group of misfits, “veterans” (read: old guys), scorers who can’t score, and former lockdown defenders who can’t defend into at the least, a playoff contender.  I don’t know that I’m anywhere near coming to a conclusion myself, but the fact that KG has a ring isn’t nearly enough to close the book on a pretty entertaining discussion.  MacMahon provides one especiall interesting thought: “If Paul Pierce played for the ’05-06 Mavs, wouldn’t Dirk have a ring?”
  • Marc J. Spears of The Boston Globe has a wonderful feature piece on J.J. Barea, everyone’s favorite Mav under six feet who just so happens to be a product of Northeastern University in Boston: “The prolonged absence of Josh Howard has forced the Mavericks, especially starved for shooters, to continue searching. They traded for swingman Matt Carroll last week. But Barea, an undersized point guard from Puerto Rico via Northeastern, continues to show that he is somehow part of the solution.  “He’s fearless,” Mavs captain Dirk Nowitzki said of Barea. “He gets in there. He’s small, but for some reason he’s a great finisher. He always finds the seams and gets to the cup. I just really like that he’s in attack mode.”…And, as the Mavericks have found out, imperfections shouldn’t always be confused with impediments.  “We realized a while ago that this guy has brains and (guts),” said Nelson. “He’s a little undersized, but shoot, there are no perfect point guards.” “
  • Just two seasons ago, Boston was a franchise in turmoil, fighting off calls of tanking, Paul Pierce trade rumors, and Bostonites flooding the streets with pitchforks demanding Doc Rivers’ head.  Things haven’t quite gotten to that point in Dallas, but if a team that was that bad can turn its fortune around on a dime, why can’t the Mavs?  Jan Hubbard of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram continues: “Two years ago, the Celtics were in the process of winning 24 games and Paul Pierce was nearing 30 years old. It seemed to be an ideal time to trade Pierce for young players, draft picks and begin rebuilding, and Cuban was one of many who was interested in helping that process. “Everybody and their brother called up when Boston was struggling about trying to get Paul Pierce,” Cuban said. “Everybody. We offered to try and take his contract and they said, ‘You know what? He’s part of our fabric, our culture.’…You look at how things turned out for Boston.” “Well said, Cubes.
  • Marc J. Spears of The Boston Globe paints the Mavericks as more sleeping giant that say, something more reminiscent of a comatose cyclops.  And from Doc Rivers’ comments, it’s clear that the Celtics respect their enemy and what the Mavs are capable of on a good day.  Still, what I took away from Spears’ preview above all was a quote from Dirk.  Y’know, just another one of those quotes that makes you thankful to be a Mavs fan, and thankful for a superstar that is as responsible and humble as he is talented: ” “I always put a lot of pressure on myself,” Nowitzki said. “If we win, that’s great. If we lose, I always feel like I didn’t do my job. Even if I have a decent game in a loss, I feel like I should’ve done more, hit one more shot, got one more stop, one more rebound, or whatever…That’s how I’ve always looked at it and that’s how it’s been the last four years since Steve [Nash] and Mike [Finley] left. I was the face of the franchise. You got to take the highs with the lows. Sometimes I do get down [after] tough losses like I did in the last couple years in the playoffs. All you can do is take the blame and work out in the summer to become a better player the next [season].” “

Picking at the Brain of a Bobcat Blogger

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 20, 2009 under Roster Moves | 5 Comments to Read

I have a soft spot in my heart for fans of the Bobcats.  In a sense, Charlotte was Seattle before Seattle even knew what that metaphor would come to mean.  So after the city had its team swept out from under it, I felt like the Charlotte Bobcats might need some help.  So in 2004, I declared the Bobcats to be my “second team.”  I know it goes against the more traditional tenets of fandom and all that, and I don’t care.  I love me some Gerald Wallace.

If you’re at all interested in the Bobcats, the natural way of things will ensure that at some point you end up at Queen City Hoops, the best ‘Cats blog in the biz.  Brett Hainline is not only an incredibly smart fella, but his statistically focused writing is still not only interesting but easily accessible for casual fans, or even hardcore fans who don’t regularly check the APBR Metrics boards.  I’m thrilled to say that Brett is now one my newest neighbors in the TrueHoop Network, and as such I thought it’d be appropriate if we traded thoughts on the recent DeSagana Diop trade.  Here are my questions about the two newest Mavs, and his answers:

Rob: Historically, Matt Carroll has been a top-notch three point threat.  Is the significant drop-off this season largely a product of a different unfamiliar role in the offense, fewer opportunities, or has the guy just lost “it”?

Brett: Matt is a rhythm guy – the more time he gets, the more comfortable he gets, and the more he does.  The drop-off really started last year, with the addition of Jason Richardson – Matt struggled to find a role with the presence of another designated shooter always on the court.  His usage rate came way down – he just stopped shooting nearly as much, and without that, he is not terribly useful (on a basketball court).  Carroll had been such a solid scorer for the Bobcats before these last 2 seasons that I think he just needs some confidence restored and a well-defined role to bounce back.


Rob: What is Ryan Hollins’ greatest strength and his greatest weakness?  Also, what is the one significant area that he must improve in to take the next step up in his game?

Brett: Ryan has incredible athleticism – I know when talking about basketball players that is almost always the case, but this guy is ridiculous.  In addition to college basketball, he was on the track squad – doing the high jump – yes, a 7-footer participating in the high jump.  Unfortunately, the same body type that allows him to be a standout track star also causes him to struggle in the post in the NBA.  Ryan is lacking the bulk to bang in the post, and struggles to defend one on one and to rebound consistently as a result.

Rob: The Mavs’ defense has come and gone this season, and though Dallas is certainly desperate for three-point shooting, a consistent defense could go a long way towards establishing a firm place in the Western Conference elite.  Is Carroll as bad of a defender as I fear he might be?  And, is Hollins going to be “that guy” who can swat shots like mad but bites on every pump fake?

Brett: Carroll is a great defender – as long as he is defending an athlete similar to himself.  He works hard, gets good position, and contests shots – but he is just a tad bit too slow and a little too gravity bound to be a decent defender.  Staying in front of dynamic wings is a real challenge for him and he can’t sag off his man and still contest the shot.  Matt works hard but it can only carry him so far.

As for Ryan, in a word:  Yes.  In more words:  He will come from the weakside and jump over/into/on his teammate to block any shot he can get near, despite the results.  25th in the league in fouls per minute – 7.7 per 40 minutes.  Kind of fun to watch how high he goes for them, somewhat alarming to see him (or a teammate) tumble to the court from great heights after the collision.

—–

Many thanks to Brett for humoring me with the Q&A-ness.  And again, if you’re not reading Queen City Hoops, you’re missing out.

EDIT: Check out my responses to Brett’s questions here.

Heard It Through the Grapevine 1-20-09

Posted by Rob Mahoney on under xOther | 2 Comments to Read

  • As a basketball fan, I can’t tell you whether or not the whole “shoot yourself out of a slump” phenomenon is an amusing spin on conventional basketball thinking that’s ironically embedded so deeply within the game or just a tidbit of commentary that frightens me beyond measure.  Either way, after yesterday’s game-winner, I’m glad that Dirk and Coach Carlisle buy into it.  From Eddie Sefko’s game recap in The Dallas Morning News:

    “I’m a shooter,” Nowitzki said. “No matter what my percentage is, I’m going to keep shooting. I just stuck with it. The team always tells me, if I miss 10 in a row … shoot the 11th.

    “I’m just happy that last shot went in, but we feel like it shouldn’t have come down to that last shot.”

  • The classic criticism of the Mavs is that they’re a ‘regular season team.’  I guess there’s no wiggle room, because there isn’t much hardware of the Larry O’Brien variety in the trophy case.  But before we give the final verdict on Dallas’ prospects for this season and their future shelf-life, take notes from Prof. Carlisle and stay level-headed, mmkay?  From Jan Hubbard of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

    After the game, Carlisle took a jab at some of the armchair critics who have spent most of the first half of the season passing final judgment on his team without having a basic understanding of the peaks and valleys of an 82-game season. “A lot of people want to write us off, ” Carlisle said, “but we’ve got a bunch of guys who are sticking together. We’ll move on and get ready to play the next one.”

  • It’s great to know that even in those end of game situations where the other team knows where the ball is going, they’re still powerless to stop a seven-footer with lanky arms and an unorthodox jumpshot.  I love this game.  From Kate Fagan of The Philadelphia Enquirer:

    “He really made a terrific shot,” Sixers coach Tony DiLeo said of Nowitzki. “Reggie was right there.”

    “You can’t ask for too much more than that,” said Evans of the shot he forced from Nowitzki. “He did what superstars do.”

    “He’s been doing that his whole career,” said Miller, who finished with 12 points.

    “Andre Miller said in the huddle they were going to isolate Dirk,” said Iguodala, who finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds. “Once he spun and Reggie came back, I knew it was a good shot. I’ve seen the move a lot of times. He didn’t show it all night, but he pulled it out when he needed to.”

  • I definitely wasn’t the only one who was enamored with Ryan Hollins’ Maverick debut, and Eddie Sefko doesn’t shy away from the subject.  From The Dallas Morning News:

    No offense to DeSagana Diop, who worked hard. But Hollins made more impact plays in his first 19 minutes, 21 seconds as a Maverick than Diop did in the first 39 games of the season. Carroll may end up being the key to the Diop trade. But in the first game, the Mavericks got lively play out of Hollins.

Dallas Mavericks 95, Philadelphia 76ers 93

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

Photo from AP Photo/H. Rumph Jr via ESPN.

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Learn everything you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can – there will always come a time when you will be grateful you did.
-Sarah Caldwell

OK, I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news.  Good news: the Mavs pulled out a win despite Dirk having 24 points on 23 shots (30%) and surrendering 4 turnovers.  Bad news: the Mavs almost inconceivably blew a 12 point lead in just two minutes of playing time.  Inconceivable!  An Andre Iguodala layup tied the game at 93-all before Dirk said “Good afternoon, sirs,” tipped his hat, and went on his merry way.  But no recap of this game would be proper without mention of Jason Kidd, who kept the Mavs afloat before pummeling Philly with three after three (6-8 from distance on the night).  Oh, and yawn, Jason Terry had another 20 point game.

There were three “new” guys on the court for the Mavs in the MLK Day nooner: the newly acquired Matt Carroll and Ryan Hollins, as well as a face that may seem foreign to many Mavs fans these days, Josh Howard.  The wrist sprain apparently wasn’t enough to count him out of this one, and it’s good to have him back.  Now Josh, about that shot selection…

The surprise of the game (other than nearly getting punked by the Sixers in the final two minutes) was definitely Ryan Hollins.  He logged almost 20 minutes in his Mavs debut to the tune of a measley four points, one rebound, and one block, but he gave Dallas a very different look against a quick, fast-breaking Sixer team.  Standard protocol for the Mavs against a running team: survive for a few minutes with Damp trotting up and down the floor before inevitably relenting to serious playing time for Brandon Bass or James Singleton.  Small ball is so awesome!  Unless, y’know, you happen to enjoy watching your team rebound, an area in which the Small Ball Mavs are routinely suckerpunched.  But the primary reason why Hollins got himself some serious PT is because he’s athletic enough to run with the Elton Brand-less 76ers, but still a legit seven footer.  That’s a tasty new look that could end up paying serious dividends if Hollins can become a bit more acquainted with his teammates and hit the glass with a good box-out and a scowl on his mug.  Still, color me impressed with his athleticism and immediate chemistry with Kidd.  Matt Carroll, on the other hand, barely had a chance to hit the floor, and didn’t get to attempt a single shot.  In due time, friends.

GOLD STAR OF THE NIGHT:

The Gold Star of the Night goes to a prodigious stat line, a game-winner, or even the cliched “difference maker.”

Dirk Nowitzki – 24 points, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, 10-10 FTs, 1 game-winning jumper after shaking Reggie Evans.  All in a day’s work.

Finding the Silver Lining

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 17, 2009 under Roster Moves | Be the First to Comment

Ryan Hollins isn’t going to rock your socks off.  He’s not Dwight Howard, and he’s not even Erick Dampier.  But there’s no reason why we can’t dig through every shred of evidence to uncover what he might be able to offer the Mavs.

On the surface, he would seem like he’d be able to supply spot back-up minutes at the center position.  I do think he’s capable of playing against NBA caliber back-up bigs.  The glaring problem is a potential injury to Damp — if Hollins was somehow thrown into the starting lineup, things would get very ugly, very quickly.  I find Damp to be pretty underrated in terms of his ability to defend the post, score without demanding the ball, hit the offensive glass, and set picks.  But believe you me, the world would be singing his praises if they ever see Hollins in the starting frontcourt this season.

He’s incredibly raw on both ends, really, but what he does have in spades is athleticism.  He’s got good reach and could potentially be an excellent shot-blocker (he’s already a surprisingly good one), but his ability to erase shots is somewhat negated by his completely unspectacular defensive positioning and footwork.  But that’s exactly why he could be an ideal back-up for the Mavs; when was the last time you saw a seven foot beast come off the bench and try to bruise and bang his defender in the post?  Most big men off the bench are coming off the bench for a reason, the biggest issues being size, chemistry, or style of play.  I’m not sure how Hollins will grapple with more perimeter oriented bigs, frankly, but I think he could potentially give undersized power forward types (in the Bass mold) fits.

3.2 points per game and 2.0 rebounds per game don’t exactly jump off the page and punch me in the face, but upon further inspection his statistical output in Charlotte this season has actually been pretty impressive.  For starters, he’s averaging nearly a block a game in just 10 minutes of playing time.  That’s legit.  Plus, when you take a look at Hollins’ block % (“an estimate of the percentage of the opponent two-point field goald attempts blocked by the player while he was on the floor,” according to Basketball-Reference.com), you’ll find that he blocks an estimate 7.7% of two-point field goals while he’s on the floor — a startlingly high number that beats out DeSagana Diop, as well as the likes of Dwight Howard and Marcus Camby.

But it doesn’t end there: despite talents like Emeka Okafor, Jason Richardson, Gerald Wallace, Raymond Felton, and Boris Diaw (AND NAZR MOHAMMED!!!!) suiting up this season for the Bobcats, guess who leads Charlotte in net +/- (a stat that measures the team’s production when the player is on the court compared to off the court)?

From 82games.com, one of the premier sites for basketball stat-heads:

Now, there’s probably an obvious explanation: the Bobcats have not been a good team this season, and Hollins (at just over 10 minutes per game) was likely on the bench during key runs in which the opposing teams pummeled the ‘Cats, and possibly hitting the floor during “garbage time” after the game had been decided.

Oh, and there’s the little eensy weensy issue of me breaking just about every guideline of advanced basketball statistics by using these types of metrics to extrapolate value from a guy playing just 10 minutes per game.  There are often HUGE flaws in this exact line of thinking that I just outlined, but hey, there’s not much else to go by with Young Master Hollins.  But as a 24-year-old seven footer on a bargain bin salary, there’s no reason why we can’t see the bright side of a guy who was already out-producing Diop with less playing time.

Donnie Nelson Turns Nothing Into Something

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 16, 2009 under Roster Moves | Be the First to Comment


Disclaimer: I originally posted the following on Hardwood Paroxysm.

I have some fond memories of the Mavs’ 2006 run to the Finals, and there is no doubt that DeSagana Diop was an essential cog in that team. But when the two-headed center that the Mavs employed suddenly transformed into a one headed center tied to a head-shaped doorstop, things got ugly. So from Dallas’ perspective, it makes perfect sense to ship Diop to Charlotte in exchange for Matt Carroll and contract filler Ryan Hollins.

Dirk and Brandon Bass both present considerable defensive problems when they’re forced to defend the post. That’s where Diop was supposed to add to this Mavericks team. Needless to say, that hasn’t exactly been the case. Diop is one helluva soldier in regard to his unwillingness to act up or cause problems when faced with limited playing time, but unfortunately, that is where my compliments of Diop’s season end. He’s always been an offensive liability and it seemed like his D had finally caught up. He struggled to defend stronger foes and really has problems with the pick and roll. He doesn’t have the foot speed to keep up with centers when they step out, and watching him try to guard a point guard on the switch is a bit like watching a cat chase his own tail. It’s harsh, I know, but the time for niceties is long past for the Mavs. Now, it’s about finding the right guys for Coach Carlisle’s attack, and that directive is executed beautifully with the acquisition of Matt Carroll.

Dirk, Jason Terry, and Jason Kidd are excellent at opening up the corners for their teammates. Devean George (28.9%), James Singleton (14.3%), Gerald Green (29.4%), and Antoine Wright (25.6%)have gotten plenty of open looks from the corners. And plenty of those opportunities have ended up with a shot that makes me vomit in my mouth, ever so slightly. Green could get there, and damn do I want him to, but for the time being he’s a sparkplug at best and a ‘factory which has the sole purpose of manufacturing turnovers’ at worst. The rest of the crew ain’t bad (Well, except for Singleton. Sweet rebounder, but I wouldn’t mind if I never saw him take another three.), but they’re not good enough for a team that wants to shoot as often as the Mavs do. The idea is that with Carroll in the corners, the offense could really open up. He’s having a down year that would make Larry Hughes blush, but he’s also a career 40.3% shooter from deep — nothing to scoff at.

The perk of this trade is that there is virtually no downside. Diop was playing marginal minutes anyway, and a combination of Bass and Singleton will likely fill in the gaps. But beyond that, I see two pretty big advantages for the Mavs:

  • Yes, Caroll is owed $21.5 million over the next five years. But that contract is also front-weighted, meaning that his $5 million salary for 2008-2009 is as high as it gets. In the heavily asterisked summer of 2010, Carroll will be on the books for just $4.3 mil. Not bad at all, especially when compared to Gana’s $32 million deal over the same five years ($6.5 in 2010).
  • Suppose that Carroll throws up a brick fest during his time with the Mavs, continues his tear of 2008-2009 sucktitude, and becomes a complete waste of space. Carlisle has shown that he isn’t shy about jerking around minutes, and he simply won’t play Carroll if he doesn’t deserve it. Be it in practice or in games, Matt Carroll is going to have to earn every minute he plays in a Maverick uniform.

Ryan Hollins is a non-factor that was likely included for salary/warm bodies that play the center position reasons.

To some extent, I do feel bad for the Bobcats. They can use the frontcourt depth, but since the summer I’ve felt like the trade game could turn into a hot potato game of Diop’s contract, and my money says the music just cut out. Game over man, game over. Enjoy paying a back-up big enough money to cripple your free agent plans, guys.