Archive for the ‘Mavs’ Category

Mean Mavs post

December 4, 2008

Can the Mavs win a championship starting Jose Juan Barea at point? I say no.

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Looming Draft Question #5: Where’s Mark Cuban?

June 26, 2008

When the Mavs pulled the trigger on the Jason Kidd deal in February, the most baffling part was why Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson were willing to include so many first-round draft picks. Kidd was unhappy, the Nets were going nowhere, and there didn’t seem to be any other teams interested in picking up his hefty contract. I felt slightly re-assured when I came to this line in Cuban’s long post explaining the deal:

And as far as the draft picks, there is no question there is risk there, but in the NBA, there is always the option to buy low first round draft picks, so we weren’t as concerned there.

Then yesterday I see that the Hornets sold the 27th pick to the Blazers — who by most accounts are trying to add veterans — and I was pissed off again. Where you at, Cuban?

See, the Mavs are maxed out on salaries with only 7 guys under contract (plus some residual money owed to D.J. Mbenga). Two of those guys gave them almost nothing down the stretch — Stack (I know, he had a couple flashes) and Eddie Jones, who’s likely to exercise his $2 million player option.

The team desperately needs to fill the holes in its bench, but really only has the mid-level exception to work with. If they split that up between a few players, then they’re betting on some pretty long odds with marginal players. If they give it all to one player– DeSagana Diop, as the DMN reports they’re considering — that still leaves quite a few holes.

Will there be any talent left late in the draft? Well, the Mavs got Howard back there and the Spurs got Barbosa, briefly. A guy like CDR might have some similar success. Or they could gamble on damaged goods like KSU’s Bill Walker.

Cuban’s come this far with the Kidd deal and if this team has any window left, it’s next year. Why not throw a few million the Grizzlies’ way and try to fill one hole with the 28th pick?

Come on, Cube, where you at?

This Seems Familiar

April 20, 2008

One day in and the playoffs are already as good as advertised. Something surprising is how quickly the matchups have settled into familiar patterns. That probably should’ve been expected with so many rematches from last season. But with all the trades and movement this year, I guess we all expected more upheaval.

Instead…

  • The Wiz talk big, then get overpowered by Lebron.
  • Really obvious questions: Why in God’s name would you provoke Lebron? He’s a human bulldozer and you decide to get physical with him?
  • The Suns look positively snake-bit against the Spurs, losing a game they were in position to win.
  • Q: Why not let Steve Nash win the game for you? He hit a huge clutch fade-away three in the second OT, but why didn’t D’Antoni run plays for him at the end of regulation or the first OT? As a Spurs fan, fine by me. Also: When is Amare going to learn to take what the defense gives him? He could’ve sealed the win in the first OT by knocking down a wide open 10-footer, but instead he went flying at the hoop, picked up an offensive foul, and fouled out. Whaaa?
  • Shaq plays terribly on offense, then tries to blame “the floppers.”
  • Q: For a guy who’s relied on the kindness of referees all career, he sure complains a lot, huh?
  • The Mavs face a quicker, less experienced team in the first round, then look completely¬† shell-shocked when the other team gets rolling. Dirk plays like a beast but gets zero help.
  • Q: How many more times will Howard, Terry, and Stackhouse disappear in the post-season? They combined to shoot 9-32. That’s Kenyon-Martin-in-a-big-game-esque.
  • Houston’s not getting out of the first round.
  • Q: This isn’t totally his fault, but when is McGrady going to learn that 20 points on 21 shots isn’t going to cut it.?
  • Denver is also on their way to flaming out again, because they apparently refuse to stop Gasol from dunking. Seriously, he sucks in the post! Just guard him!
  • Q: How many games before they start taking cheap shots and smirking like punks while getting their asses handed to them?

The one thing I didn’t expect: the Sixers are a lot better than I thought. They won’t beat Detroit, but they might give them trouble.

Schedules Again

March 6, 2008

A few weeks in, and some people are ready to pass judgment on the Shaq and Kidd trades. But as with teams like the Rockets, Lakers, and Spurs, who are streaking against mostly favorable competition, the Suns’ and Mavs’s schedules are data points worth a look, too.

Since the Shaq trade on Feb. 6, the Suns are 6-7, and 3-5 with Shaq in the lineup. Their schedule, again teams with winning records are in bold:

  • New Orleans – L
  • Seattle – W
  • Washington – W
  • Golden State – L
  • Dallas – W

Shaq starts playing

  • Lakers – L
  • Boston – W
  • Detroit – L
  • Memphis – W
  • New Orleans – L
  • Philadelphia – L
  • Portland – W
  • Denver – L

So of the seven losses, only one has been to a losing team, Philly, and they might still make the playoffs. Wins over Dallas and Boston have been offset by losses to New Orleans (x2), L.A., Detroit, G.S., and Denver. Five games against title contenders, plus three more against legitimately talented teams. That’s a pretty difficult run.

The Mavs have had it no easier. Since the Kidd trade on Feb. 19, they are 4-4 against a tough schedule:

  • New Orleans – L
  • Memphis – W
  • Minnesota – W
  • Chicago – W
  • San Antonio – L
  • Sacramento – W
  • LA Lakers -L
  • Utah – L

All four wins are against some crappy teams, but they were only about two favorable bounces/whistles from winning both the Spurs and Lakers games. Is this really reason to panic?

The concern, of course, is that both teams definitely don’t look like they’re clicking. The Suns, especially, have looked out of sorts on both sides of the ball. But I’m not sure what else you’d expect when each team is basically overhauling their entire style of play. It’s a far cry from Gasol going to the Lakers, where they just dropped him into Bynum’s slot and starting mopping up inferior competition, much to the analysts’ delight.

In a month, we’ll know more. I expect the Mavs will start catching some breaks. I think Kobe and the Lakers, unfortunately, will still look like a contender. It’s the Suns*, who were once the model for every rebuilding team in the league, now playing catch-up. Against a March schedule that gets no easier, they’ve got to be sweating Golden State and Denver, who are both less than four games back.

* Man, even if Phoenix sorts things out, how good is the chaos making Bryan Colangelo look? Robert Sarver done screwed up.

Where Online Arguments Happen

March 5, 2008

Reid and I are always carping at each other online, so I thought it would see if it translates to the blog. Consider this an experiment, with most of it below the fold. I have no idea how it will hold up for entertainment value, but neither of us has had time to write anything thought-out recently. Plus, this has lots of bleeped out profanity.

Wright: Damn. Dirk caught a suspension for the AK take-down.
Reid: What??? Jesus Christ.
Wright: One game.
Reid: Man, f*ck the NBA.
Wright: Eeee, against the Rockets, too.
Reid: F*ck David Stern. And f*ck Stu Jackson.
Wright: Ha ha ha. Let ‘er rip.
(more…)

Sunday Observations

March 2, 2008

From Cavs-Bulls:

  1. Not in the box score: Delonte West makes the Cavs almost fun to watch. I don’t know if it makes them a better team yet, but it’s so nice to watch him push the ball and keep Mike Brown from calling a Lebron isolation every. single. play.
  2. In the box score: I normally can’t stand the prose stylings of Kelly “Cats and Kittens” Dwyer, but he’s dead on (and mercifully to the point) with this post calling out Bulls coach Jim Boylan. Boylan insists on giving minutes to an ineffective Drew Gooden, usually at the expense of Tyrus Thomas, with no justification. Gooden’s numbers after four games: 38.5% shooting, 0.5 assists, 0.5 steals, and 0.5 blocks in 27 minutes a game. And for this he’s been promoted. He’s been solid on the glass, but today I watched him give up a crucial offensive rebound at the end of the game that effectively killed any hope Chicago had.
  3. Meanwhile, Thomas’ per-minute numbers are almost identical, except he’s shot better — the result of more easy buckets and alley-oops — and racked up way more defensive stats. Anyone watching the game can see Thomas’s ceiling is higher, not just in the long-term, but also in his ability to impact games now. And, no, I’m not bitter because I’ve been waiting for Tyrus’s fantasy breakout since drafting him this year.

Lakers-Mavs:

  1. I know I shouldn’t expect thoughtful commentary from the likes of Stewart Scott, but even Michael Wilbon was disappointing during halftime of this game. With the Lakers clinging to a three-point lead, even after the Mavs shot terribly for about 15 straight minutes, all the commentators could talk about was how the Lakers were on a roll. “14-2 since they got Gasol!” they said. “What’s to stop them from rolling right into the finals?” Scott asked. Effin’ c’mon. Meanwhile, we’re told that the Mavs just don’t “look like” a great team anymore. Talk about drawing conclusions from the slimmest of evidence.
  2. Sure enough, Dallas scored the first seven points of the second half. Looks like it’ll be two good teams battling it out from here on.
  3. Contrary to an earlier assumption of ours, I’ve hardly seen Gasol working out of the high post this game. In fact, he looks to me like he’s getting almost all his buckets off dunks in the exact same role that Bynum filled in the offense — weakside alley-oops, slipping screens, running the break… I’m still waiting to see how they’ll integrate both.
  4. When Gasol goes one-on-one with a pretty good post defender like Dampier, he looks terrible. I think he’s about 1-6 — make it 1-7 just now — in isolations in the first 30 minutes of this game.
  5. Brandon Bass is a legitimately great role player, and Devean George legitimately blows.
  6. After the buzzer: that was a hell of a game. While I’m not writing the Lakers’ finals ticket by any means, they’re like Cleveland west — with Kobe on the court, they’ve always got a shot.

Warriors-Blazers:

  1. Watched this game from the nosebleeds, and it was typical, glorious Warriors madness.
  2. The bad news: Baron Davis runs, and plays defense, like a guy nursing a bad back.
  3. The good news: Davis was deferring to Monta down the stretch to initiate the offense, and the youngin’ looks totally comfortable in that role.
  4. Between Monta (age 22), Biedrins (21), and the surprising Brandan Wright (20), who looks better with every game in the starting lineup, the Warriors have one hell of core to build around next decade.
  5. A friendly tip for the concession crew: Don’t put a woman who just had back surgery on one of four booths serving the free hot dogs and cokes this game — and don’t let her take a break with no one to replace her and a line 20 deep, when it already took Amanda 25 infuriating minutes to get through her line.
  6. The Blazers hit a ton of jumpers, with guys all up and down the roster chipping in. Oden could post Tim Duncan-like assist numbers next year on kick-outs.

Seriously, Who Does ESPN’s Graphics?

February 26, 2008

Today Yao goes down for the season and gets the Charlie Brown treatment:

A couple weeks ago, the Jason Kidd trade got its own special graphic that looked like a bad movie poster for Trade 2: Trade Harder(*):

Apparently, Kidd was ready for some real serious kung-fu shit, but then … why does Avery look like Eddie Griffin? Why does Dirk look like Seann William Scott in Dude Where’s My Car? And why does Cuban look mentally challenged?

Oh well, at least we know which team in the West is going to fall into the lottery now.

*Joke © Kevin Ray, 2001

Big Stat Attack

February 26, 2008

Following up a previous post, let’s throw out some stats that seem like logical indicators of whether these huge trades worked. This isn’t ideal because I’m a little rushed, haven’t really explained why these are the stats I like, and don’t have the pre-trade numbers at my fingertips, but oh well, that’ll come. For now let’s grab the latest numbers from ESPN. A good glossary of the stats is at basketball-reference.com. Suggestions welcome in comments.

SPURS

  • I thought defensive rebound rate (DRR) would tell the tale, or perhaps defensive efficiency (Def Eff), but nope: the Spurs are currently first in DRR (77.5) and third in Def Eff (100.0). Looks like Kurt Thomas was brought in specifically for playoff match-ups against Shaq, Pau, et al. Or maybe we really were just sticking it to the Mavs.

MAVS

  • Assist rate — currently stuck at 16.4, 20th in the league, this will obviously improve with Kidd but how much?
  • Offensive efficiency and pace — at 108.2, the Mavs’ efficiency is solid, 8th in the league, but they play at a really slow pace, 91.8 possessions a game. Not sure what any change would mean, but I’ll be curious to see.
  • Dirk’s 3-pt. % — he’s currently at 29.9%, way below last year’s 41.6. Will less pressure to facilitate the offense free up his shot?

SUNS

  • Def. Eff. — 103.8, ranked 15th. Obviously they want it to improve, but not at the expense of their offense, which was humming at a league-best 110.0 points per 100 possessions.
  • DRR — 69.5, ranked next to last. (Marion was their best defensive rebounder before the trade, with a DRR of 23.0. Granted it’s only three games, but Shaq’s at 31.9 for the Suns.)
  • Amare’s numbers — It’s already obvious Shaq is freeing up his game, but will it be more than a few extra dunks and some weakside blocks?

CAVS

  • True shooting % — right now: 52.2, 24th in the league. I figure better spacing and some real 3-point shooters should get them to rely less on second-chance points. Cavs were 4th in the league in ORR.
  • Def Eff — this year it’s a pedestrian 103.8, 16th overall. Paging Ben Wallace.

BULLS & HAWKS

  • Off. Eff. — If these teams are going to improve, it’s going to have to be offensively, right? Chicago = 99.4/26th. Atlanta = 101.0/22nd. As a general rule anything below 100 is pretty awful.

LAKERS

  • Things are obviously clicking for the Lakeshow, but my one lingering question was if that would change when Bynum gets back. I thought maybe he and Gasol overlapped, so there would be trouble working the kid back in. Reid figured they’d leave Pau at the high post and continue to score in buckets. The stats seem to back him up. Pau is more of a scorer and distributor; Bynum hits the glass harder and cleans up more of the offensive scraps.
  • Bynum: 13.1 pts, 10.2 reb, 1.7 ast, and .636 FG% per game. Advanced: 127 Off. Rating, 17.4 Usage Rate, and 12.1 Off. Reb. %
  • Gasol: 22.0 pts, 7.1 reb, 2.9 ast, and .632 FG% per game. Advanced: 132 Off. Rating, 23.0 Usage Rate, and 6.8 Off. Reb. %

I hate to say it, but shit, that’s impressive.

In all, I hope to find time this week to talk more about these stats, especially Offensive Rating and Usage Rate, which haven’t been discussed as much on the internet as I would expect.

A Conspiracy So Immense

February 21, 2008

I wasn’t the only one who thought the Kurt Thomas trade was a little curious.

Mavs beat writer David Moore, in today’s chat:

Thomas would have been ideal for the Mavericks. But you also have to look at who pulled the trigger on that trade. Seattle general manager Sam Presti got his start and developed in the San Antonio franchise. If he had traded Thomas to the Mavericks instead of the Spurs, what do you think Gregg Popovich would have done? His head would have exploded.

The equivalent deal for the Mavs would have been something like Eddie Jones, Juwan Howard and a first to bring home the former TCU standout. Not sure that’s head-exploding stuff, but for two teams who scout as well as the Spurs and Mavs, a late first round pick can turn out to be pretty damn good.

Chris Paul 104, Mavs 93

February 21, 2008

Impressive: 9 steals. Most impressive: how effortless it seemed. He’d get a step on his defender and then make one quick lateral move at about the free throw line and pull up from there. Damp usually looked ready with the help D, but Paul almost never took it all the way to the rack.

I expected CP to torch the Mavs, but I didn’t see old friends Peja and Bobby J coming. Their corpses somehow combined for 35 points on eight 3s. It felt like I was watching Weekend at Bernie’s 3.

I thought Kidd played decent one-on-one D, despite Paul’s numbers. I chalk this loss up to team D. Kidd wasn’t always sure where he was supposed to be, and some of the rotations on the perimeter were just awful, especially when the Hornets made the run that put it away. Jackson was so wide open on his nine 3 attempts that he didn’t get injured shooting any of them.

All in all, I thought it was a promising debut. The team clearly looked more keen on pushing the ball and, where Harris used to look for a seam on the break, Kidd was constantly looking up-court to sling one of those over-the-shoulder, from-the-hip heaves. It looked like all the giddiness about his passing got into his head a little bit, and he passed on a few easy shots in order to kick the ball back out to the perimeter.

But the excitement was definitely there, and with tune-ups against Memphis, Minnesota and Chicago this week, Kidd should feel more comfortable by next Thursday, when he gets to play against some guys his own age. That will be the real test, and the whole NBA will be watching to see how Kidd and Dirk match up with San Antonio’s own vaunted PG-PF tandem: Damon Stoudamire and Kurt Thomas.