There have been a lot of positive remarks about the questions and answers series that has started during the offseason. I think people are just thirsty for Mavs information or debate, but we’ll continue running with the series. If you ever have questions you want tossed into future a batch, you can always send them through Twitter or through the comments section.
This batch provides a good mixture of looking back, looking ahead and evaluating who the true gambles are this offseason with free agency. If Dirk and Carlisle were your kids and you had to pick one as your favorite, who would you pick? Wait, parents don’t have to pick a favorite child? Oh, that’s good to know for the future. Anyways, a variation of that topic is brought up.
For now, here are 10 more questions and answers about the Mavs.
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The game of basketball has turned into the business of basketball. Players are still slowly learning that fact. Fans should understand that now. The 2010-11 Mavs are a great example of how business could get in the way of a good thing.
Dallas won the title that year and decided that it wasn’t a safe risk to “bring the band back” for another run at the title. Giving the core a chance to defend their title would have been enjoyable, but there was clear and reasonable logic behind the move the front office made. Mark Cuban has gotten a lot of heat for that decision, but the results of the playoffs this year suggest he was right for letting everyone go. As the Conference Finals are in motion, the Indiana Pacers’ Ian Mahinmi is the lone former Mav from the championship roster who still is playing.
Let’s look at what the Mavs would have theoretically had to do to bring most of the band back. Remember, Brian Cardinal and Peja Stojakovic are out of the league now. That leaves J.J. Barea, Caron Butler, Tyson Chandler, Jason Kidd, Ian Mahinmi, DeShawn Stevenson and Jason Terry. One guy to remember but won’t exactly be figured into this equation – Corey Brewer. He signed a three-year, $9,177,000 deal. He is now a free agent.
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Point guard or center: Where do the Mavs focus their attention this summer? That is the question. Last week, we covered how both positions were clearly below expectations for the Mavs and that they need to replenish those positions with upgrades.
I posed the hypothetical question to ESPNDallas.com’s Tim MacMahon during one of our Bloom and Doom sessions during the year about whether Tyson Chandler or J.J. Barea would have been more valuable to Dallas during this season.
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It’s time to wrap up the position by position evaluation. If the point guard position was the worst spot for the Mavs, the center position was the second choice. Folks got a harsh reminder that Tyson Chandler wasn’t going to be walking back through that door. Going into the 2011-12 season, Dallas had the likes of Brendan Haywood and Ian Mahinmi that had to be replaced.
They got creative by replenishing their center spot by signing veteran big man Chris Kaman to a one-year deal. They also claimed Elton Brand off waivers as he was released by Philadelphia due to the amnesty provision. Brandan Wright continued to log minutes at the center spot, but he also saw more time at the power forward position.
Summing it up:
The centers definitely never had a chance to get into a groove as both Kaman and Brand expected to be playing off of the attention that Dirk Nowitzki received from the opposing defenders. Dirk’s time away due to his knee surgery definitely altered that plan for both big men. That certainly changes the expected results for the centers, but the numbers are still pretty poor over the course of the season.
In terms of rebounds from the center position, Dallas’ centers tied for dead last in the league at 4.3 rebounds per game. The two teams they tied with made the playoffs, but they definitely had more to work with. The teams were the Los Angeles Clippers and the Miami Heat. Both teams were clearly limited with their size in the frontcourt, but they had athletes that helped masked that deficiency.
Those rebounding numbers for the center show a pretty significant correlation to the fact that they weren’t good at getting second chance points. Dallas’ centers were below average in second chance points as they only averaged 3.5 per game. New Orleans’ big men led the league in that category at 6.5 per game.
The Dallas centers had the 11th worst defensive rating for centers at 103.8. Elton Brand was brought in to be the enforcer and anchor in the paint. His defensive rating for the season was 102, better than his career average. He wasn’t necessarily outmatched in his position. Brand isn’t the tallest center in the world, but he’s able to use his frame and long arms as leverage as a defender. The problem was that he wasn’t necessarily set up in a position to succeed as the perimeter defenders weren’t exactly staying in front of their man. That forced the centers, like Brand, to help more than they probably should have needed to.
What do they need?
You either believe you need a dominant center and pair him with Dirk, or you need a highly-skilled point guard and pair him with Dirk. Both would clearly be ideal, but it’s entirely possible the Mavs might have to select just one option.
It’s always ideal to now follow the blueprint that was created with Tyson Chandler. Dirk has said it over and over again that a mobile center who can play defense is one that works best alongside him. Comparing this summer to next summer, this summer’s crop has the potential to bear more fruit as next summer has intriguing names but the options are relatively limited. That means centers, which always get paid, will really get paid next summer because the options are just so limited.
Through free agency and the draft, there will be plenty of options for Dallas when looking at centers. It is very evident that, like the point guard position, they really need to take care of the center position this offseason. It will be very interesting to see which route they take when it comes to the center spot.
Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He also attended Ball So Hard University, studying ideologies of Clark Kent. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.
Thermodynamics (n.) – the science concerned with the relations between heat and mechanical energy
And with that, the 2012-2013 Dallas Mavericks will ride off into the sunset.
Sixteen NBA teams will play on, but the Mavs’ season is over. It wasn’t exactly a ceremonious ending, but it could have been worse. The Mavs closed out the year exactly at .500 (41-41), tallying their final win ever against the New Orleans
Hornets Pelicans. In the process, they became the first Western Conference team in over three decades to finish at .500 or better after being 10-plus games below that mark at any point during the season. That says something (although I’m not sure exactly what).
In honor of the season’s end and the final 2012-2013 installment of Thermodynamics, this week’s column will be a little different. Instead of the usual “weekly recap” approach, this one will address the three hottest and coldest performances for the entire season. For each item on the list, I’ll include one of the first things I wrote about that player from early in the year, and we can see how those initial impressions line up with the player’s season-long outlook.
Off we go…
1) Brandan Wright
“Last season [2011-2012], Brandan Wright was a very serviceable rotation-caliber big man. This year, he will move well above that status, if the first two games are any indication.” – Thermodynamics: Week 1 (Nov. 1, 2012)
Those first two games were an indication, indeed.
Like countless Mavs observers, I spent the early part of this season perplexed by Rick Carlisle’s handling of Wright. Even accounting for Wright’s weaknesses, there was never any real justification for him to ride the pine for long stretches in favor of 2012 Troy Murphy. Yet as the year went on, Carlisle grew more and more comfortable with Wright. The 25-year-old big man began to rebound and defend better (although he still has significant room for improvement), all while the Mavs’ mounting playoff desperation necessitated Carlisle’s compromise.
As many of us suspected, Wright turned to be one of the Mavs’ most efficient and productive players, effectively showcasing his potential as a long-term piece for the Mavs. He also drove up his free-agent asking price in the process, but Dallas has cap room aplenty, which if nothing else will give Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson room to mull over a competitive offer. I consider him a top priority for this offseason. It would be foolish to let him walk unless another team wants to drastically overpay him (which isn’t completely outside the realm of possibility). Wright is already a highly efficient offensive player, and he has plenty of upside to boot. It’s hard to ask for more.
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Mark Cuban was at it again with his open discussion with the media prior to the team’s game against the Denver Nuggets. His squadron was out of playoff contention, a position the team hasn’t been in for quite some time. This season definitely leaves him angry that he’s in a position that he’s not used to being in. He’s been knocked down and he’s motivated to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
Even more so than the discussion prior to the game against the Suns, Cuban opened up even more to reporters about his team’s disappointing year and what needs to happen going forward. He also had some high praise for one of his veterans. Here is the quoteboard for Mark Cuban for the game prior to the game against the Denver Nuggets.
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It’s time for another round of Bloom and Doom.
In an effort to keep the discussion going, I sought out ESPNDallas.com’s Tim MacMahon for his opinion on pressing issues for the Dallas Mavericks. You can view MacMahon’s coverage of the Mavericks at ESPNDallas.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @espn_macmahon. Periodically, we have touched base and discussed topics with our own unique point of view. It’s been a while, so it was necessary for us to reconnect and agree and disagree on a few subjects.
MacMahon likes to call it like he sees it. That perspective can hover on the other end of the spectrum from my optimistic viewpoint on things. You could say it’s a classic case of good cop, bad cop. Our different perspectives should make for an interesting conversation on hot topics revolving around the Mavs.
This round of bloom and doom analyzes if Rick Carlisle is having the coaching performance of his career, which 2011 departure would fit best this year and other topics.
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In Part One of my conversation with Grantland’s Zach Lowe, we discussed the recent disappearing act of Dirk Nowitzki’s shot attempts, Rick Carlisle’s coaching and the whacky twists and turns the point guard position has created for the team this season.
Part Two really digs into the meat and potatoes for the Mavericks. This summer will once again present a crossroads of sorts for Dallas. There’s also a decision the Mavericks made after winning their championship in 2011 that will likely hover around the franchise for quite some time. Lowe discusses the hindsight look at that as well as looking at the legacy Dirk Nowitzki will imprint on the league.
Let’s dig in. Here is an edited transcript of our conversation.
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Box Score — Play-by-Play — Shot Chart — Game Flow
You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.
- With 2:03 in the third quarter and Dallas down 79-73, Darren Collison took a three point shot which rebounded badly off of the front of the rim. Vince Carter made an attempt at a tip out and Shawn Marion and J.J. Redick chased the rebound past half court. Marion saved the ball from going out, slapping it towards an open O.J. Mayo. Oddly, Mayo did not react to the ball bouncing towards him. Jameer Nelson hustled and beat Mayo to the ball and passed to a cutting Redick for a lay in. Somehow, Mayo recovered defensively and blocked Redick’s lay up attempt. Mayo grabbed the rebound, drove the length of the floor and found Carter for an ally-oop dunk. This play, and the following Carter three pointer, brought the momentum back to Dallas in a game they could not afford to lose.
- I rewound and watched this particular sequence five times. As delightful as the end result was, that Mayo was even beaten to the ball by Nelson is inexcusable. Mayo was closer, but made no attempt to get the ball. The Maverick announcing crew made no mention of this initial lack of effort and I wonder if they would have had Redick converted the lay in. Though the narrative will be “O.J Mayo’s effort saved the day” and it did, apparently Dirk pointed out post game that Mayo should’ve gotten to the ball before Nelson. In a way, it felt like the O.J. Mayo experience in a nutshell: unbelievable poor decision making followed by a high light reel play.
- Vince Carter had a season high assist night, dishing eight out in a mere 26 minutes and only posting one turnover. His best assist occurred in the fourth quarter: Carter stole an outlet after an Orlando rebound and whipped a behind the back pass to Shawn Marion for a dunk.
- The Mavericks have the league’s worst point differential in the first six minutes of a game this season. An emphasis on getting off to a good start was an apparent sticking point during all star break practices. The Mavericks answered the call, outscoring Orlando 22-14 in the first six plus minutes and scored 51 points in the first 15 minutes of game action.
- On Tuesday, Grantland’s Zach Lowe mentioned Darren Collison’s atrocious defense, saying Collison is “lost on defense, prone to confusion and especially to veering way off course negotiating picks. Point guard defense matters, and Collison’s is a big net negative.” Early in the season it felt as if the main Maverick problem was the lack of a solid rim protector (and because I pine for Tyson Chandler). As the season has progressed it’s become glaringly obvious that the Maverick back court would have a hard time staying in front of a bolted down park bench. Orlando is not a good basketball team and that the Mavericks had trouble stopping their penetration all night long is really concerning.
- Elton Brand (17 points on 6 of 9 shooting) showed his value repeatedly against the Magic. His shot making abilities bolster the Dallas offense, particularly on nights when the Big German’s shot won’t fall. At the end of the first quarter, he scored on three straight possessions: a face up jumper from the left block, a driving lay up after facing up on the same block, and a fall away jumper from the free throw line. His lift may be limited, but in the right situations he can carve up a defense.
- For some reason, I felt Chris Kaman looked like a giant substitute history teacher with his bench wardrobe. Get well soon, Mr. Kaman.
- During the week long break, I spent a fair amount of time watching Dirk Nowitzki highlights from the 2011 title run. To call him a different player now is a mild understatement. The level of explosive strength in his legs simply isn’t there in his moves this season. That’s an obvious side effect of his knee surgery, but it’s also been two seasons without a training camp for Nowitzki. Dirk hasn’t been ready to play in a way that he’d be satisfied with since the summer of 2011. It’s clear in the way he’s shooting, and while he looked better before the all star break, a 4 for 13 shooting night for 12 points is not a the kind of game Dallas can get from Dirk if they expect to make any sort of run for the final playoff spot.
- Mike James (12 points, four assists) received back up point guard minutes and his numbers were solid. I think we’d all prefer Roddy Beaubois at this point, mainly because decent statistical nights like this one seem to bolster the confidence Jones has in himself. Prior to the game against Orlando, Jones was shooting a dreadful 26.9% from the field.
- Case and point with Collison’s defense happened with 3:29 in the first quarter. Jameer Nelson saw Collison open himself up defensively as he anticipated a high screen. Nelson simply drove to the basket, right past a bewildered Collison. Shawn Marion had to leave his man and rotate to the driving Nelson, who passed to a wide open DeQuan Jones for a dunk.
- The rare jump shot from Brandan Wright (eight points, eight rebounds) is something to see. He jumps very high and when he took and made one in the forth quarter on the right baseline, the ball nearly went out of the TV camera’s range, so high was his shot arc.
- One of the simplest defensive principles when trying to stop fast break is this: you must make the ball handler make a decision. With five minutes in the first, Shawn Marion grabbed a defensive rebound and pushed the ball up the floor. He was facing a three on two with Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo on the wings. Oddly, the two Magic defenders stuck with Mayo and Collison, never forcing Marion to do so much as alter his direction. Marion drove the length of the floor and finished with a monstrous dunk.
- Dirk has been reduced to a jump shooter this season. His shots tonight all came within the flow of the Dallas offense, but the offense doesn’t seem to end up with Dirk getting the ball, back to the basket, in his former sweet spots. It’s unclear to me whether this is by design, a matter of the Dallas guards being unable to make entry passes, or if Dirk isn’t working for the ball the way he used to. Against the Magic, Dirk did not take a single shot closer than 12 feet from the rim.
- Watching J.J. Redick move without the ball is entertaining. There wasn’t a single Maverick assigned to him tonight that had much success at all in staying in front of him. His career numbers compared to O.J. Mayo are not that different, but Mayo could learn a thing or two from Redick about how to get the most out of his talent.
- This recap seems overly negative for a game Dallas won by 15. It was a close game from the 2nd quarter until the 5 minute mark of the fourth, when Carter hit a three to push the Dallas lead up to seven points. Within three and a half minutes the lead ballooned up to 18 points. This late game 14-0 run masked a number of problems which aren’t going away for the Mavericks.
Kirk is a member of the Two Man Game family. Follow him on Twitter @KirkSeriousFace for ranting about Dallas basketball, TV, movies, video games, and his dog.
“This is why I am here. This is the death I have foreshadowed. Mad gods have come to destroy us all.” – Galactus, Devourer of Worlds
From what I’ve heard, the world is ending. I’m not talking about the end of the Mayan calendar and the doomsday projections for this Friday, December 21st. I’m talking about the Mavs season and apparently the future of the franchise — if the most pessimistic prognostications are correct.
In case you were wondering, the Apocalypse will look something like this: Dallas loses relevance as a Finals competitor. They get stuck in the middle. Not good enough to go deep into the playoffs, not appealing enough to win big name free agents, and not bad enough to get lucky in the lottery. And even if the team did try to “suck for luck,” this is a ridiculous strategy because it creates a culture of losing that is difficult to recover from. Also, it’s a bad idea when you consider this well-written and thoroughly depressing column by Jonathan Tjarks. Would the Mavs be able to appropriately develop high draft picks? No matter. If this is the end, it looks ugly.
If I am to believe the Mavs fans, the ones who pace and rant, who wear placards proclaiming the end, they say the signs have been here all along.
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