All Time Team: The Mavs

12 07 2008

I got a great email from Rob Mahoney of the NBA blog, Upside and Motor.  Rob had been enjoying the other ‘All-Time teams’, and wanted to put in one for…

The All-Time Dallas Mavericks
(take it away Rob!)
PG: Steve Nash – Believe it or not, this was one of the most difficult decisions on the list.  Nash should definitely be included on the team somewhere, but this position is pretty close between Harper and Nash.  Harper is the better defender and served a longer tenure, but Nash’s complete domination in terms of efficiency is what sealed him the starting spot.

SG: Rolando Blackman – Confidence, baby, confidence!  Ro’s a no-brainer for the starting 2 guard.  His name is all over the Mavs record books (his scoring record was only broken this season by Dirk) and he was a four-time all-star with Dallas.  It doesn’t hurt that he spent eleven seasons with the team.  Also amazing is that Ro had so many points without ever being a three point threat (he never averaged a three made per game in a season, and his career high in attempts was 2.3 per game)

SF: Mark Aguirre – In a lot of ways, Aguirre was the best post scorer the Mavs ever had.  He was prolific from midrange and around the bucket, and provided a pretty awesome 1-2 punch with Blackman for the better part of a decade.  And, if it was interesting that Ro was able to score without shooting threes, then it’s especially interesting that both he and Aguirre were able to be so effective without stretching out the defense.

PF: Dirk Nowitzki – Do I really need to explain?  He’s the franchise’s leading scorer, led the first Mavs team ever to the finals, is the first Maverick MVP (as well as the first European), and has completely changed the game in terms of how we view European prospects and big men.

C: Roy Tarpley – He spent six seasons with the Mavs (his entire NBA career), and posted an impressive 12.6 points and 10 boards to go a long with a steal and a block per game.  He won the 6th man award and was very efficient throughout his tenure in Dallas.  Probably the most unspectacular of the starters and although Perkins and Donaldson may be trendier choices here, Tarpley is the man.

Bench:
G – Derek Harper – A must for this list, Harper was a good defender at the point, could score, and is the Mavs all-time assists leader.  Unfortunately, his announcing wishes it could be called a ‘pedestrian effort.’

G – Jason Kidd
– Undeniably talented, Kidd would be in the fray for the starting spot if he hadn’t been a discontent and if he had spent some of his prime in Dallas.  His current stint might hurt his standing if the Mavs can’t put something together this season.

G – Brad Davis
– Davis wasn’t spectacular, but he was rock steady in over 10 seasons with the Mavs.  He leads the team in moustache.

G-F – Michael Finley
– overlooked among Dirk and Nash, Finley spent some of the prime in his career in Dallas, a decision that he never complained about (despite some miserable seasons for the Mavs).  Finley was an integral part of the Mavs resurrection.  His repayment?  Getting booed by fans in Dallas when he returned as a Spur and getting punched in the nads by Jason Terry.  The world is a cruel, cruel place.

G-F – Josh Howard – Make your weed jokes, but Josh has improved every year that he’s been a Maverick (despite what you may think about 2007-2008).  He can score, he can play D…if only he could improve his ball-handling…

F – Jamal Mashburn – Mashburn was the best scorer among the Triple J’s (Jamal, Jimmy Jackson, and Jason Kidd!), and would’ve had a stellar career if he didn’t have to fight off numerous recurring injuries.  Monster Mash was great in the post and on the break…I really miss watching him play.

F-C – Sam Perkins
– So what if the Mavs chose Perkins over Barkley (and Stockton, for that matter).  Perkins is mostly on this list out of a need for a big, and frankly I think he’s better than James Donaldson.

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NBA Utterances With Malice

30 04 2008

Curtains close for a couple of teams today. The Mavericks ride off into the sunset, and the Suns… umm…just… err… set?

Today’s games, and what they mean:

  • Dallas failed. With the 99-94 loss to New Orleans, it’s as simple as that. To be bumped out in the first round, when earlier this season you trade the guy who’s probably your best young player – in an effort to get better now… well, it’s failure.
    As I said in ‘Failed Experiments’, I expect big changes in Dallas. Because at the end of the day, this roster, this coach just cannot get the job done.
    And they’re not going to be any younger next year.
  • Phoenix – more of the same, losing 92-87. Trade to get the Big Fella, then drop out in the first round of the playoffs.
    Worth noting that at the time Phoenix made the trade, they were situated at the top of the Western Conference. Since that point, they dropped to 6th in the standings, which placed them squarely against the reason they made the trade in the first place: Tim Duncan & the San Antonio Spurs.
    This roster is about the same in regards to youth as Dallas, but they have one big exception to that: Amare Stoudemire. Amare’s a piece to build around that the Mavs just don’t possess. He’s only 26 this year, and post moving to the power forward slot, he was a monster.
    Add to that Leandro Barbosa & Boris Diaw – and the Suns possess 3 players all born in 1982 who make the basis of a damn good team. The rest should be considered as ‘commodities’ that could possibly get in pieces to rebuild this roster. And that includes Steve Nash.
  • Detroit showed some TCB today… and business was a home game against the 76ers. And they took care of bidness to the tune of a 98-81 beat-down.
    The Pistons starting 5 were all in good form, and really took control of the game – but Philadelphia coach Mo’ Cheeks assured the Palace in Auburn Hills hecklers that “I’ll be back.”
    This Detroit team is enigmatic to extremes… they might go to Philadelphia and lose mightily… or they might win by 20+. Hard to say. Hoping the former.
  • Houston stave off disaster and beat thrash Utah, 95-69. Now, they have to do what has been one of basketball’s Herculean tasks this season – but conversely something they did but a few days ago – and go into the House of Jazz and win. Tall order… but the Jazz have to be scratching their heads at the moment.
    And we all know what the Rockets can do once they start rolling (22). Hell, just for the heck of it I hope the Rockets get it done (note: cheering for the 76ers/Hawks too!)…
  • San Antonio will play New Orleans in the next round… and egads, is that a series that will be well worth watching. Does either side have a clear advantage?
    Paul has the basketball nous to play Parker well, and Parker has the speed to stay in front of CP3. That match-up should be a beaut.
    It might all come down to how well Tyson Chandler can defend Timmy.

Tomorrow’s games:

  1. Washington in Cleveland – put up or shut up time for the Wiz. I think LeBron has them shut up by mid-way through the third.
  2. Atlanta in Boston – Wow… the Boston players don’t seem too worried given this series returns to Boston, but Doc Rivers is. I think the players should be too – the Hawks look like a team with ‘belief’. Something I cannot ‘believe’ is that the NBA Commissioner chose not to act on a variety of offenses during the last game.
    – Kevin Garnett pushes a ref and gets nothing…
    – Kendrick Perkins steps onto the court and escapes penalty…
    – Same with Marvin Williams…
    If I were the Phoenix Suns – post last season’s suspension of Amare Stoudemire/Boris Diaw – I’d be pretty upset about that [grumbles about double standards].




Failed Experiments?

30 04 2008

First round of the playoffs are done, and given their first round exit Dallas has to be wondering what they have to do to get back to being a top-flight unit. Whilst Phoenix managed to be competitive against the Spurs, it was evident that they cannot beat San Antonio in a close game.
With both series over, and although the Mavs managed to beat New Orleans in game 3, and Phoenix the Spurs in game 4… the pendulum has swung away from these franchises. Both are old, and don’t look like having what it takes – as they stand – to be competitive in the now ultra-competitive West. Surprising that they’ve reached this point – given the mid-season trades that both franchises made, supposedly to address key concerns on each roster.

Time’s fast approaching when the question will be asked: were these trades mistakes?

Hard to credit much in the losses to Shaq. O’Neal’s numbers have been relatively ok, if not amazing. Shaq brought a little over 15 points and nearly 10 rebounds per game on average.
Additionally, although Tim Duncan’s first game was great, in games 2 and 3 – Duncan wasn’t the reason the Spurs won. Shaq has of late been playing better basketball than he has for quite some time.
Yes, in game 1 it was Shaq who didn’t rotate out to take Tim Duncan’s 3 point shot away – but that’s a shot you give Timmy time & time again, and he doesn’t even take it, let alone hit it.
And yes: Duncan had his way with the Suns bigs in game 1 – most notably Shaq, whose 11 points/5 rebounds did read very poorly. Still, didn’t the Suns bring O’Neal to Phoenix to be better than Tim Duncan? Aren’t they paying more than they got in return?

However – I don’t really see Phoenix doing much better with Marion in the line-up. One of the big stories about Shaq’s presence has been the liberating of Amare Stoudemire… and but for Stoudemire – the Suns don’t even compete against San Antonio. 33 points in game 1, and the same in game 2. The fact that he can play at power forward has a helluva lot to do with that, and of all the big men on the market, Shaq was probably the guy that was ‘most available’ to do what the Suns wanted. Slot Marion back into the unit, and Amare back at center, and I don’t think Phoenix get as close.

For a very long time, I was against the Suns acquiring O’Neal – truth be told I’m not still sure that it represents the best thing that the Suns could do as far as personnel acquisition goes. O’Neal represents a fairly hefty chunk of change, and the Suns are hardly notorious for what they get in the draft.
This doesn’t work – and it’s going to take some fairly shrewd negotiating on the part of the front office to get the Suns to a position where they’re going to be competitive. Nash is 34 this year. O’Neal and Hill 36… Bell is 32. Only Amare Stoudemire of their key positions is what one would term ‘youthful’.
Trading Marion – who might have attracted quite a bit of attention as trade-bait – blew away a piece that could’ve been used to get younger, to put pieces around Amare – but find someone to take O’Neal? Forget that. Will not happen, especially now Isiah’s had the boot. O’Neal’s not going to get better, the best thing that Phoenix could hope for is that he stays plateaued. But of recent years, that’s something Shaq hasn’t done too well. Stuck with in excess of $20 million a year going to the big Shaq-tus, for 2 more years post this one. That’s one helluva millstone. Nothing, absolutely nothing we’ve seen in this post season would indicate that he’s worth anywhere near the money he’s getting.

Jason Kidd averaged 6.3 assists with 7.3 points throughout the series against New Orleans. His direct opposite, Chris Paul, averaged 11.3 assists with 24.8 points. Quite a gap there.
One could argue that it’s unfair to compare Kidd to Paul, but that’s currently where the benchmark is set, and the reason that Dallas traded to get J-Kidd. The Mavs hierarchy felt they needed to upgrade at the point, and dealt Devin Harris to the Nets to get Kidd. And markedly, Kidd’s been singularly unimpressive since joining the Mavericks.
At the time, many felt that this wasn’t an altogether wise move – the amount that they had to give up to get Kidd was just way too much. Not only Devin Harris, but DeSagana Diop and 2 draft picks – all of which will have a marked impact on what Dallas can do in the future, and it clearly had an impact on how the Mavs played this series.
Harris represented a much better defensive option on Paul, at least Harris has the pace to be able to keep up with the Hornets phenom. And Harris certainly couldn’t be worse than Kidd’s been on the offensive end… it’d be hard to imagine that Harris would be less creative than Kidd’s been too.

As with O’Neal’s contract in Phoenix, Kidd’s become the elephant in the room… no-one wants to talk about it, but everyone knows it’s there. That’s a large slab of cash going out of the Dallas coffers into his pockets, for very little in return.

As it now stands, Phoenix bowed out in 5 to what’s fast becoming their kryptonite, the San Antonio Spurs. Dallas had no answer for Chris Paul & his band of merry men. Bad news is, it’s only going to be worse next year. The young, talented squads in New Orleans, Utah and LA are already playing at a level perhaps beyond Phoenix or Dallas, and then you have to add Portland to the mix, who looked very good at times during the regular season and will add one of the better young big men to come out of college in recent years – Greg Oden. Include the Spurs, who whilst fitting into the ‘aged’ range, still seem to have what it takes. Denver have the youth, but lack direction.

What can these two traditional powerhouse (at least, of recent times) franchises do, once it becomes obvious that the squads as they are aren’t going to get a championship?
Phoenix at least have Amare. He’s young, and a very good base to build upon.  Add Boris Diaw & Leandro Barbosa to Stoudemire (all born in 1982), and that’s the basis of a strong roster.
Could be a few lean years (or less), but the Suns can make a relatively quick transition… if they pull the trigger on some difficult situations, and manage to find something to do with O’Neal.
Make no mistake tho’ – some hard decisions are there for what to do with their tradeable pieces… dare I say it – Steve Nash?
It would be a mistake for Phoenix to depart from Mike D’Antoni, as if they do, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be able to replace him with anyone better. D’Antoni is one of the very few truly elite coaches in this league.

Far worse a situation for Dallas, who traded their best young player (I rate Harris ahead of Howard) for a shot now.

Now that Dallas are out – Cuban would have to be close to showing Avery his walking papers, and the two certainly have butted heads this season.
And even despite stating the contrary, the owner of the Mavs must be wondering if Dirk is as good as advertised. Dirk himself is probably wondering if he can win a ring at Dallas too.
Maybe the only answer is to blow the team up, and start again.
As they are now, at times this squad looks old and confused – if Dirk’s not on his game.

Both teams are going to look different soon, probably starting next season.

Interesting times…

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NBA Blah Blah Blah With Malice

28 04 2008

Pretty hard to work out patterns in the playoff series thus far. I get why teams up 2-0 or 3-0 lose a game, especially away… but pretty hard to foresee Detroit falling into a 1-2 hole before today’s game.

Anyway, on today’s games:

  • Detroit leveled the series 2-2 against the 76ers, winning in Philly 93-84… and perhaps putting the 76ers on notice. Thing is, even if they do get past Philly (and that’s no certainty – although there does appear to be a momentum change)… the next round is set to be a ripper, against what’s looking like being the Orlando Magic lead by the Dwightmare. Now that will be interesting… if the Magic’s shooters can step it up a bit, the Pistons are looking beatable (should they get past the 76ers!)…
  • Phoenix finally, finally win one. The 105-86 scoreline won’t help them too much tho’, as they head to San Antonio to play the Spurs down 3-1. I think they’re done. And that is going to mean some people have some serious accounting to do.
  • Like-wise in Washington. It’s one thing to talk trash, but what the Wiz have done goes to an entirely new level. Thing I don’t get is why you give guys like LeBron or Kobe ammunition to play well… like they need excuses. DeShawn Stevenson: Are you insane? LeBron James ‘over-rated’? So the Cavs moved to 3-1 in the series as it heads back to Cleveland… seems all but over.
  • Dallas is on the verge of extinction too. A 97-84 loss today puts them one game (next one’s in New Orleans) from starting their holidays. And I get the feeling that Cuban’s axe is getting sharpened, right about now.

In tomorrow’s games:

  1. Toronto at Orlando – The Raptors head to Orlando, down 3-1. Curtains, you’d think.
  2. Boston at Atlanta – Atlanta, having took game 3, will be facing a fired-up Boston (who would’ve had strips torn off ’em by KG)…
  3. LA Lakers at Denver – the Nuggs don’t look anywhere like a team that wants to win… but I think game 4’s a lot closer than any have been thus far. Still… I think we can get the brooms out.




NBA Babblings With Malice

26 04 2008

Certainly getting interesting now, with Dallas taking a game off New Orleans and Detroit falling well short against Philadelphia. Have to wonder if this is it for the Pistons, even if they do manage to get past the 76ers, do they have what it takes to get past the might of the Boston Celtics?
Chris Paul – wasn’t his usual amazing self – but I have to comment on recent discussions hitting everywhere – blogs/radio/forums – on “who would you take out of Chris Paul, Dwight Howard or LeBron James?”
Those that answer ‘Chris Paul’ need to check the amount of prescription medication they’re taking. Yes, he’s good, very, very good… but please – taking him over perhaps the best center playing at the moment, and the Air Apparent?

  • San Antonio went into Phoenix, and have now pushed the Suns to the brink of elimination with a 115-99 victory.
    Tony Parker unloaded on Phoenix with a 41 point/12 assist game, and took the Spurs to a 3-0 series lead. On their own court, for the first time this series, the Suns didn’t look in it at all. San Antonio – and in particular Parker – ran rampant over the sluggish Suns.
    One low point: Popovich got the Spurs playing ‘hack-a-Shaq’ at various times, and it’s a blight on the game. Still, Suns look done, and are facing the broom.
  • Dallas fought back, and took one off the New Orleans Hornets, 97-87. Even in an off-night, Chris Paul hit a double/double (16 points/10 assists).
    But that we look at that as a poor performance by his standards shows just what a very special player the young guard is. Jason Terry did a very good job of guarding CP3, and Dirk Nowitzki and Terry did very well scoring too.
    Still, down 2-1… Dallas will have to play some very special basketball to pull this thing off.
  • Are Detroit done?
    Philadelphia thrashed them 95-75 in the first game on the 76ers’ home court.
    Andre Miller & Samuel Dalembert were excellent for the 76ers, who looked great against the Pistons.
    Roles were reversed: ’twas the Pistons who looked confused and out of sorts, and Philadelphia who had all the answers all night long. No-one counted them as a chance of being competitive this series, and yet here they are, 2-1 up with 2 more games at home.
    I still see the Pistons getting this done, but at what cost? There’s certainly a very big gap in the way they’re playing, and the dominance we’re seeing from Boston.

In tomorrow’s games:

  1. LA Lakers at Denver Nuggets – Can the Lakers go into Enver’s house & beat ’em?  Depends… on how much D the Lakers can summon.  I think they get it done.
  2. Orlando in Toronto – Orlando have to take this one.  Last thing they want is the series leveled, and the Raptors believing.
  3. Boston in Atlanta – Forgeddabowdit.
  4. Utah in Houston – after game 3, this series got intriguing.




NBA Idiocy With Malice…

15 04 2008

Ye gods… how stupid IS Carmelo Anthony? Here he is, a multi-millionaire, with the future of a franchise tied to him, and he gets drunk – then gets behind the wheel of a car, and was appropriately arrested for DUI.
Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Anthony has faced questions about his ability to lead a franchise before, and he’s always made the right noises – perhaps mouthing platitudes – about trying to do the right thing. This time however, it wasn’t just taking a cowardly swing at another player. This time he put the lives of people at risk – thank whatever god is relevant to you that nothing happened beyond ‘Melo’s arrest.
The head-honchos at Denver have to be shaking their heads at this. It’s not like he was simply heading home after dinner post-game either. This happened at 4am on a Sunday night, in the middle of the race for the final playoff spot.
It’s a head-scratcher for sure.
One wonders what penalty – if any – the Nuggets braintrust will impose. On one hand, if they penalise him games, it will impact their post-season. But the other option is that no penalty, or a penalty that doesn’t affect him greatly just reinforces the behavior that he has exhibited.
I’ll be interested to see what action, if any, they take.

Anyway…

  • The Golden State Warriors couldn’t hold out the Phoenix Suns (122-116), and thus their season is over… well, they have another game – but that’s it. No more outside chance of the playoffs.
  • Houston’s loss to Utah (105-96) drops the Rockets down to 5th place, and vaults the Spurs up to 3rd – given the Spurs didn’t do a New Orleans and lose to Sacramento. If this positioning holds for another game, this means that Houston will face the Jazz in the first round of the playoffs. Honestly? I don’t think it matters WHO the Rockets face, Kobe Lite T-Mac isn’t breaking his first-round jinx this year…
  • The thing that’s important about this tho’ is that the Spurs will now (again, assuming the positions remain the same) face the Phoenix Suns. And that, will be interesting. The Suns reconfigured themselves mid-season with this match-up in mind (tho’ I’m betting that they did it with the belief that they’d be facing the Spurs a lil’ further into the playoffs)… Shaq v Timmy. I’m looking forward to it, and would bet that there’ll be suspensions in this series. No love lost there…
  • The next two days have some fantastic match-ups… well… ok, not fantastic match-ups per se, but games that have real meaning. Amazing on the last two days of a season. Lakers host Sacramento – Lakers win, they take #1. New Orleans host the Clippers – if they don’t win they could drop from top 2, and if they win & LA loses, they’re #1… IF they can beat Dallas the next day. Speaking of ‘next day’, Utah at San Antonio is a huge game, as is Portland at Phoenix.

Sorry it’s mainly Western Conference… Some East:

  • Despite the bravado coming out of Cleveland, does anyone else get the feeling that they’re not ready? Nothing overly impressive recently out of the Cavs…
  • Washington actually look dangerous at the moment. I’d hate to face them first round – oh wait, that’s what the Cavs have to do.
  • Nice win Chicago, throwing down a mere 151 on the Bucks (who scored 135). Made me feel like I was in the early 80s again.
  • And a nice win to Boston who beat the Knicks 99-93. Why is a 6 point victory a ‘nice win’ you ask? Because Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen all had a night off.

Only two days left, and lots of games – looking forward to ’em all!





Ummm – What Was That?… Southwest Division

15 04 2008

Again, Boston Celtics blog CelticsBlog.com have put out a really interesting read on bloggers taking a look back at how they thought the teams of the Western Conference’s Southwest Division would do. Some extracts:

  • San Antonio Spurs (MVN’s Spur of the Moment) “More than the age factor, I think these nagging injuries led to the Spurs struggles because they haven’t had the same consistency as in past years…”
  • New Orleans Hornets (Hornets 247) “Chris Paul, I didn’t foresee him playing like some kind of demigod and competing for MVP.”
  • Memphis Grizzlies (3 Shades of Blue) “I said that the team would need time to develop chemistry and familiarity, and it appears I was 100% correct as the team is among the league’s worst in assists, turnovers, opponent’s FG%, point differential and rebounding differential.”
  • Dallas Mavericks (MVN’s Showboating) “First, this is a much different team than the one that got booted by the Warriors in the first round.  Second, the addition of Kidd has re-energized Dirk Nowitzki, who unlike last season looks to be peaking at the right time.”
  • Nothing for the Rockets…