There’s a lot of panic amongst the fan base and within the Mavs organization these days. Social media has been interesting as fans are arguing amongst themselves on Twitter/Facebook and sports Radio/TV personalities all have their ideas as to what’s hurting this team. The worst part about it all, other than the fact that our team is losing, is that Jean-Jacques Taylor is looking more and more right about his pre-season predictions after every game the Mavs let slip away. Not fair when a mediocre journalist that gets paid to be negative 95% of time, is proven right.
Let’s move on.
There are a lot of questions people have about this team. Questions about what the Mavs should’ve done in the past and what their next moves should and could be. I’ve seen many comments from fans and even media that just aren’t true and are uneducated opinions. I don’t blame the average Dallas sports fan for having the thoughts they do on the Mavs. They simply don’t know all the comprehensive details regarding the struggle of this team. But there’s absolutely no excuse for a media member to make some of the ridiculous comments about the team or its future. The media’s full time job is to research the facts before putting something in print or saying something in radio. This creates credibility. It’s pretty astonishing that I can know more about this team and its direction even though I write about the Mavs MAYBE once a week. That’s if I’m lucky and can find the time between my regular full time job and being a husband and a father to 2 toddlers.
All I’m asking is for the media to just be smart. So maybe I can help. In the grand scheme of things I’m just a utility infielder in “A” ball trying to make it to the big leagues. I write in my free time with aspirations of something bigger. We will see where that road will lead. In my mind, I’m getting called up for one at bat in the big leagues to help clear a few things up for those common fans that are confused about the Mavs current struggles and are looking for some answers moving forward. I’m stepping up to the plate to break it down for us in a way in which we can all understand. So I’ll try and to hit a “Sac Fly” here and take one for the team, because major media just isn’t getting it done. Then, like “Moonlight Graham”, I’ll jump across the line and head back to my normal job and life resumes as usual.
1: The Mavericks current struggles:
Contrary to popular belief, the current problems are not rebounding and turnovers. Yes, they were an issue early on but they have been focused on (Minus the Denver game when we gave up 60 rebounds). The Mavericks have been much more competitive on the glass and are turning the ball over significantly less. If you guessed this is because of Dirk coming back, you would be correct. Half court sets are running a little smoother now but it’s a work in progress.
The main problem with the team now is defense, of course. But a HUGE problem that hasn’t been addressed much is the pure lack of shot making. Seems pretty simple right? Put the ball in the basket more than the other team and you win. But in the last 10 Mavericks’ losses, the team has shot an average of 42%. This is bad. To put that in perspective, the Wizards hold the league low in shooting percentage for the season at 44.2%. OJ Mayo is struggling with making clutch baskets as it showed in overtime versus the Hornets on Saturday night when his wide open jumpers weren’t falling. Even Dirk joined in by missing a crucial free throw in regulation. The Mavs shot a somewhat commendable 46% in Saturday night’s game but couldn’t buy a basket when they needed it. Call it bad luck or call it tired legs, but they have to make shots. The defense has disappeared in clutch situations as well. In typical Mavericks style, career nights by opponents are surrendered on almost a nightly basis. Greivis Vasquez nearly had a triple double against us. Other games saw players like Danny Green hit an absurd amount of 3’s against us on his way to a career night. Gallinari of Denver dropped 39 points on us and hit 7 three pointers. Players like Linus Kleiza are scoring 20 points on us as our defense in the paint is virtually non existent as well. Shawn Marion said it best, “We Cant guard nobody”. You’re right, Shawn.
2. Dirks Recent Comments:
“We knew that coming in, that eight or nine new guys on one-year deals is not really an ideal situation, but what else is there to do?” Nowitzki said. “So either you break the whole thing up and trade me, or you get a bunch of one-year deals and try to be a player next summer. That’s the decision we made, so now we’ve got to fight through it.”
“The only reason I would leave — or would have left — is if we wouldn’t have won the championship, and I would have been like a Karl Malone and (Gary) Payton going to join Kobe and Shaq in L.A. like they did at the end,” Nowitzki said. “But now I’ve got a ring and obviously want to finish my career here. But I also want to be competitive.”
“I always liked to think you don’t want to build your franchise on hope.
It’s very frustrating to me to read tweets or comments from national media that try and flip this into Dirk asking for a potential trade. This isn’t even close to what he’s saying in his quote. Dirk is basically stating that before the championship season, he had considered maybe moving on at some point if the team wasn’t headed in the right direction. Dirk has said plenty of times that he wants to retire a Maverick. In his quote he also states that he’s questioning the moves that the Mavs have made the past 2 years and wondered aloud about any future moves (CP3 and Dwight Howard).
First of all, I feel that his comments were mostly out of frustration. Seriously, the guy hasn’t played on a losing NBA team in…..forever. His last losing season was his first full season in the league when the Mavs went 40-42. So coming off of missing a career high amount of games due to his knee injury and also the fact that team is playing so badly, I’m sure there are some concerns he has about the team. I’m sure it hurts having to watch the same franchise that he’s helped bring to the top of the mountain, slip and fall almost all the way down in just less than 2 years. Heck, it damn near makes me cry thinking about it, imagine what is going on through his mind.
But in reality the Mavs don’t need CP3 to win. And they most surely don’t need trouble like Dwight Howard on the team that will not only create a media circus, but will most likely break the bank come contract time. Dirk has to be smarter in analyzing the future of the team. With the new CBA, which I will address later, teams can’t be stacked full of star players. Payrolls and budgets just won’t allow it. Dirk has to realize that it’s going to take a team of role players and a few great/good players to get it done. Just because the team didn’t sign DWill or won’t sign Chris Paul and Dwight Howard, doesn’t mean the franchise should just throw in the towel. The media just needs to tap the breaks here. No need to blow Dirk’s comments up for the sake of a story.
3. CBA, starting NBA season of 2013-2014.
I won’t spend much time here as I have already written a column about the details of the new CBA.
But what I will say; is that it’s on the horizon and that most of the casual NBA fans have no idea of what it means for their team. Basically it’s a tool to create parity amongst the league and to avoid the “Super Teams” that we’re forced to hear about on ESPN every night. This will keep more teams competitive and smaller markets interesting. NBA general management and ownership has been one way for a long time. Just money-whip other teams and pay more for players and max contracts. If a team was in a major media market, they had the advantage. It wasn’t fair. And our precious Dallas Mavericks were one of the major market teams taking advantage of this. Mark Cuban has said as much.
Ownership and roster building was Checkers. It’s about to be Chess.
Teams will now be forced to build teams based on quality drafts and the growing and grooming of players that aren’t necessarily “superstars”. They will need to do this and do their best to stay under the salary cap of $58 million or suffer severe and stricter penalties than ever before. As much as I hate to admit it, the Spurs are a perfect example of this. They’ve kept a core of players but have also drafted brilliantly. Not to mention that Coach Popovich is a great coach that gets the absolute best of EVERY player that’s ever stepped foot on that court. That being said, even the Spurs payroll currently stands at $70 million. Meanwhile, teams like the Lakers are doing it all wrong. As are the Nets and Knicks. Those teams are throwing Hail Mary’s as the clock expires in order to bring in a ring before the CBA starts regulating. It’s going to be real interesting to see the team that gets it this year as the 2013 off-season will see a ton of roster movement across the league.
4. Tyson Chandler
I’m a little tired of reading about how letting Tyson Chandler go was Cuban’s worst move of all time. It’s simply not true. Yes, Tyson Chandler was the best center the franchise has ever seen. But rather than blame Mark Cuban and the Mavericks for not offering more money to him, you need to understand something. In the off-season of 2011 after the lock out ended, the Mavs offered Chandler a 1 year, $20 million contract. He declined and signed with the Knicks for 4 years, $60 million. He wanted years. The Mavs couldn’t do that knowing that the approaching CBA storm would make it tough to build a roster around Dirk and Chandler if the two of them would account for $35 million of a $58 million pay roll. That only leaves the team with $23 million to build a roster to compete. Chandler left while the money was good and the Knicks kindly paid him the money he wanted. The Mavericks made a proactive business move. It sucks that it came to that. But it’s good for the team in the long run. End of story.
5. Moving Forward
The Dallas Mavericks 2012-2013 season is looking bleak. There’s no question about it. We could easily miss the playoffs and it’s a tough pill to swallow given all of our past success. It’s been a strange season considering that, on paper; I really thought we had a strong team. I always personally thought that “time to gel” was over rated. But maybe that’s exactly what’s happening. The team just isn’t comfortable with all the new personnel. No trust on defense or on offense and new starting line ups every night. Even the brilliance of Rick Carlisle is tested every night.
All we know now is that the Mavs are in a spot to compete moving forward, IF, they make the right basketball moves in the off-season. That doesn’t mean signing a bunch of big name free agents, they’ll cost too much. It means sitting down in a room and playing Billy Beane. They have to find players, much like the 2011 title team, that bring something to the court to create a cohesive unit. They need consistency. They need players that can be coached. They need players with low turnover rates and that can play smart defense. They don’t need to be superstars. All NBA teams will be forced to get much more cerebral in their roster building. My hope is that the Mavericks front office can find talent as well as they manage their finances.