You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.
At no point during this game were the Wizards denied access to what could have been theirs; the Mavs looked infinitely beatable throughout, and generally refused to erase the doubt in the result despite holding all of the cards. Dallas defended fairly well, had Dirk Nowitzki (24 points, 7-11 FG, four rebounds) a step closer to normalcy, and attempted a whopping 37 free throws. Yet if Washington were, well, a better team than they are, the game could have tilted anywhere along the way. The Mavs won the game, but the Wizards certainly did their part to lose it.
Tyson Chandler (18 points, 5-10 FG, 18 rebounds, eight offensive boards, four turnovers) was again dominant, and forced another team with weak interior defense (though not without shot-blocking, it’s worth noting) to foul him repeatedly on deep catches and offensive rebounds. Chandler has attempted 11+ free throws in three of his last four games, despite playing fewer than 33 minutes in each. Think about that. Chandler is, on some nights, the consistent source of free throws that the Mavs have long needed. Dallas may not be able to dump the ball to him in the low post, but the team’s willingness to find Chandler and the Tyson’s creativity in finding open spots around the rim have created a pretty viable threat.
Brian Cardinal (nine points, 3-8 3FG, four rebounds) started in the spot formerly held by Sasha Pavlovic, and though I’m unsure of just how long a tandem of Cardinal and Dirk Nowitzki can coexist defensively, it worked well enough on Monday night. Then again, I’ve underestimated Cardinal almost every step of the way. I thought of him as a decent three-point shooter, but he’s become the Mavs’ best. He’s hustled at each of his NBA stops, but Cardinal really does do so many of those fabled “little things.” I figured any claims of his defensive adequacy were probably overstated, yet he manages to hold his own. Cardinal’s not a long-time starting option, but for the moment, he’ll do just fine.
Dallas’ ball movement was certainly notable. The Mavs assisted on 27 of their 34 field goal attempts, and Jason Kidd and Jason Terry combined for 19 dimes between them. This was really one of those holistic concepts, though; the ball movement around the perimeter was fantastic, and virtually every Maverick was giving up good shots for better ones. Kidd and Terry were particularly brilliant, but the entire team deserves credit for forcing the Wizards to commit and then exploiting their rotations.
It’s practically heresy to wish the Mavs to be less than they are, but every time Ian Mahinmi (seven points, two rebounds, one block in just eight and a half minutes) hits the court I think of what it might be like if this team were in a different place. Mahinmi isn’t a cornerstone, but his activity level is impressive. Mahinmi’s feel for the game isn’t natural. He’s worked hard to get to where he is now, and it’s unlikely that he’d ever evolve into stable, starting center material. But wouldn’t you love to know for sure? For now, Mahinmi is a better player than the Mavs can find minutes for, but he’s a terrific luxury to have.
The Wizards picked up their fifth team foul with 9:05 remaining in the fourth quarter. Dallas went on to attempt 17 free throws in the frame. Matters a little bit, no?
I wouldn’t say that Dirk is ready to resume business as usual, but this was by far his most comfortable game since his return from injury. Nowitzki took advantage of going to work against Andray Blatche, Rashard Lewis, and Trevor Booker, who provided far less opposition in the post than Nowitzki has seen in recent games. He was able to back his Wizards opponents down, and shot fake his way to the free throw line on several occasions, which is far better than the desperate heaves we’ve seen from Nowitzki in the last week or so. It’s apparent that Dirk wants to recapture his potency, but this was his most legitimate advance toward that end.
Also: this isn’t a pass that Dirk could have made even as recently as two or three seasons ago, and not only because Tyson Chandler is a more capable finisher than Erick Dampier:
In case you didn’t know, Nick Young (6-20 FG) and Andray Blatche (4-17 FG) are remarkably skilled in firing up shots without a moment’s consideration. It’s as if every reasonably well-positioned catch transitions seamlessly into a shot attempt. It’s some kind of credit to them both that they play without doubt, but it’s a bit of a red flag that they play without discretion.
Draft day is upon us. Although the events of this week make moving up in the draft a costly proposition, there’s still an outside chance the Mavs will move up in the second round or even into the late first. Regardless, there should be an interesting prospect of some kind on the board when the Mavs are finally on the clock with the 50th pick. Here are all of the draft previews featured here over the last few weeks (in alphabetical order):
If the pre-draft buzz is to be believed, Vasquez and Torrance could actually be gone by the end of the first round, with Zoubek not far behind them. Booker should also be out of the question by the time pick no. 50 rolls around, meaning that it’s extremely unlikely that Dallas will be able to draft a player that’s NBA-ready.
Feel free to peruse the per-possession stats of all of the previewed prospects (and all of the players the Mavs have worked out that weren’t previewed) in the chart below. You can sort by any of the listed measures, or classify by position to compare against the rest of the crop.
In case it’s unclear, the stats are as follows (from left to right): true shooting percentage (TS%), effective field goal percentage (eFG%), offensive rebounding rate (ORB%), turnover rate (TOV%), assist rate (AST%), free throw rate (FTR), usage (USG%), steal rate (STL%), block rate (BLK%), and defensive rebounding rate (DRB%).
UPDATE (5:04 PM CST): For the sake of convenience, I’ll be updating this post with periodic pre-draft chatter.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports: “If Maryland’s Greivis Vasquez slips out of tirst round, don’t expect the guard to get past Miami with 32nd pick, league executives say.”
Sam Amick, NBA FanHouse: “Dallas is trying to buy its way into the first round, according to a league source. The Mavs have only the 50th pick overall.”
UPDATE (7:22 PM CST):
Per Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas, the Mavs received some good offers for Rodrigue Beaubois, but they weren’t persuasive enough: “‘We’ve had some unusually attractive offers for Roddy,’ Nelson said. But, nothing that would change the Mavs’ stance. ‘Roddy’s not going anywhere,’ Nelson said.”
Looks like the Mavs may have made their way into the first round after all. According to Marc Stein, the Memphis Grizzlies selected South Florida’s Dominique Jones with the 25th pick for the Mavs, who bought the pick. Check out his Draft Express profile here.
Ed Welland of Hoops Analyst on Trevor Booker: “Any team looking for a player in round two who might provide something in the way of immediate help should take a long look at Booker. He isn’t much of a scorer, but he has good defensive numbers and his role in Clemson’s full court press suggests his defensive abilities extend to the perimeter…Not great, but he does show a decent skill set. The scoring is low in both efficiency and frequency, but it isn’t terrible. The rebounding is adequate and the defense is strong. He’s probably about where Patterson and Aminu are as a 3-point shooter in that he’s shown some promise, but with limited attempts we really don’t know how good he is. I’ll just say that like the ability to defend the perimeter, getting his outside shot to fall will be a key for Booker.”
An anonymous scout, via Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News, on draft prospect Brian Zoubek: “He’s a nonstop worker who can rebound really well and sets a good, hard screen. He needs to work a lot on his offensive game, but he’s a really good offensive rebounder.”
6’7.5”, 236 lbs (combine measurements)
22 years old
Projection: Early second rounder
It’s extremely unlikely that the Mavs will even sniff Trevor Booker in the draft. Even if Trevor isn’t guaranteed a spot in the first round, he seems to be everyone’s favorite early second rounder. That’s only logical given Booker’s size and skills, but there’s still the remote possibility that Trevor slips on Thursday night. After all, in this zany NBA draft world, stranger things have happened. Stranger DeJuan Blair-y things, for one. Obviously Booker doesn’t come with the same health concerns that Blair did, but some talented players just end up dropping on draft night for footnotes on their draft profile. There’s nothing to indicate Booker could be such a player at present, but the draft winds are still blowing.
Part of the problem is that at a little over 6’7”, Booker seems like the type of college big man that could theoretically struggle to produce at the next level. He won’t be a consistent post threat in the pros, which is why his ceiling is likely as a fringe starter, but a more realistic projection might be as a decent, competent reserve. Trevor can rebound and score — even without having as many post-up opportunities — in the NBA, but it’s going to take some adjustment. It requires unbelievable talent to make the jump from NCAA standout to NBA player, but the contrast in styles and athleticism also forces lesser players to make changes to their game that they’re not always comfortable with (or capable of) making.
It’s one thing for a guy like Booker to accept a smaller role as a pro. That’s essentially a given, and when he’s selected in the second round, there’s an implicit understanding that he’s not brought in to be a star. It shouldn’t keep him from working hard and clawing to get what he can, but it should force certain modifications to Trevor’s approach. Against college defenders, Booker’s size was a non-issue. He could go to work inside, and use every bit of his strength and length to force his way into easy buckets. It just won’t fly against most NBA defenders, and Booker will need to continue to diversify his game (while maintaining the essence of who he was at Clemson) to become a real NBA player.
The same goes for the defensive end, which could be where the real trouble begins. I don’t doubt that Booker will work hard to improve his defense, it’s just important that we retain realistic expectations for a 6’7” power forward. Rebounding is different; we’ve seen a number of undersized bigs become rebounding machines in the pros. There’s just something instinctive about hitting the boards, and it’s so intuitive to some of these players that they simply can’t be denied. But how many undersized bigs have gone on to become defensive weapons? Or even average defensively? They do exist, but the odds are against Booker being efficient defender as an NBA 4.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love the guy among the second round prospects. Hard-working, athletic power forwards will always have a special place in my heart, and I’m actually pretty high on Trevor’s ability to stick in the L. But like so many other late draft selections — and this is a point that honestly hasn’t been hammered in enough of these draft profiles — Booker doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt. No second rounder does. Lottery players are expected to produce and those that go in the second round or aren’t drafted at all are expected to fail. That’s clearly not always the result, but expectations needs to be low, even if only so Booker can shatter them.
Trevor can be an NBA player, and he really is an impressive athletic specimen. On top of that, he’s exactly the sort of aggressive scorer that just about anyone would love to have on their team. His height will likely play a major factor though, as his tear-the-rim-down mentality from college will be met with the waiting arms of NBA shot-blockers. If Trevor can work on his face-up game and further refine his driving abilities, there will be a roster spot for him on a number of teams. If not, he’ll go down as yet another impressive college player that couldn’t quite cut it. I’m rooting for him, and at this point I’m damn near positive he’ll be able to adjust while still thriving in some of the same areas that made him a success at Clemson. Yet if he doesn’t, there will unfortunately be nothing spectacular about his failure. It’s hard out there for a second-rounder.
2009-2010 Traditional Per Game and Per 40 Minute Stats:
2009-2010 Per Possession Stats (Offense):
2009-2010 Per Possession Stats (Defense):
Kyle Nelson, Draft Express: “Despite being tougher and more athletic than most post players at the collegiate level, Booker has become far more perimeter-oriented and somewhat less efficient on the offensive end. Though his 3-point shooting numbers are down to an unsightly 26.9%, his form is much improved, far more fluid and quick than in past seasons, suggesting that he could develop into a solid shooting option at the next level from inside of the NBA three point line. He also looks considerably more adept on pick and pop plays from mid-range. Evaluating his ability to attack matchups off the dribble, he appears to have improved as well, looking eager to beat opponents with his terrific first step. Unfortunately, for as much as he has improved his ball handling abilities through the course of his career, he is still not that efficient in this area, looking overly ambitious at times, turning over the ball over in iso situations, not getting quality looks at the basket, and not drawing contact at the rim. Similarly, he does not seem to know his limits, as he lacks the offensive polish and basketball IQ at this point to be a prolific slasher at this level or in the NBA. All things considered, though, Booker’s improvements from the perimeter as a shot-creator and jump-shooter should be duly noted, despite the fact that it’s hurt his efficiency numbers in the process.”
Fran Fraschilla, ESPN.com’s Draft Blog: “As a junior, he was the first ACC player since Wake Forest’s Tim Duncan to lead the league in rebounding and field goal percentage. It’s a good indication of his warrior-like approach around the basket. While undersized, he should provide a spark for an NBA team in its rotation. At worst, he’ll be a great ninth or 10th man..”
David Thorpe, ESPN.com: “I’d lean heavily to Trevor Booker. NBA execs mention Paul Millsap and Carl Landry when they are discussing Booker. Um, hello? Those are two of the top 18 power forwards in the game! Booker has the “beast” mentality with long arms — a perfect combination. If his neck was an inch longer, he’d be a lottery candidate. Who cares about neck length?’”
I’ve been trying to stay away from highlight reels, but it’s important to really see this guy in action. Just a beast. Pardon the video quality, effects, and music, though.