Friday, October 17, 2008

Hardwood Paroxysm's 2008-2009 Season Preview: Dallas Team of Mavericks

Well, golly, that's the thing about Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry and Jason Kidd. They're a team of Mavericks. And they're going to come into this season and get all Mavericky and Maverick things up. You know, sometimes, in this great country of ours, we face challenges. And for those challenges, you know what you need? Experience. The experience to tackle these tough challenges. You know what Mavericks do with challenges? They fly in helicopters and shoot them, like your average Joe Plumber. That's what. And gee, isn't today's weather beautiful? I sure am looking forward to the Mavericks being all Mavericky! And Ronald Reagan, also.

Your opening preview is by Rob Mahoney, dontchaknow.

Projected Record: 50-32 (6th in the West, 4th in the Southwest Division)

Mavericks, Mavericks, Mavericks. I’m going to tell you guys up front that I’ll spare you from John McCain related-jokes. I know, pretty nice of me. But I only do so because I’ll have plenty to say about this team from top to bottom.

The Kidd-Harris trade is a thing of the past. I like Devin Harris a lot as a player, and I’m sure that a lot of people within the Mavericks organization did/do too. But until the NBA implements a “mulligan” policy, the trade is not going to be undone. Jason Kidd is the point guard of the Dallas Mavericks (for the time being, at least), so we’re not going to talk about that trade anymore. Not that I’m, y’know, bitter about it or anything.

Also, I’m going to put this out there: this Mavericks team is better than you think. Yeah, I’m talking to you, buddy. This isn’t a team on the brink of implosion, this isn’t a team that falls apart on defense, and this isn’t a team “in search of its soul” as oh so many voices might whisper in your ear. This team has a soul, and his name is Dirk M.F. Nowitzki. To everyone who thinks that Dirk “can’t be a franchise player”: leave. Move along, sir, move along. Scroll down to the pretty pictures and further commentary. Dirk is one of the game’s elite players, and I’ve witnessed him carry this team more times than I’d care to. The Mavs have gotten worlds better since those days, but Dirk is still the workhorse he’s always been. He’s a selfless franchise player, a tireless worker, and among the best at his position. He is clutch, he does have heart, he can play defense, and he is a leader. Teams lose sometimes. It happens. The Mavericks have taken some pretty hefty hits over the last few years, and to say that Dirk and co. are demoralized probably isn’t the half of it. But those criticisms of his game are forum-esque and lazy. They belong sandwiched between an insult about him being “a soft euro” and a comment about David Hasselhoff, followed by “lolz :P”. The Mavs lost to the Hornets in the first round last year, so it was easy to overlook just how good Dirk was in that series (26.8 PPG, 12 RPG, 4 APG, and a PER of 26.3). He went to New Orleans ready to win; some of the other Mavericks just didn’t get the memo. But Dirk will come in this season and do his thing, just like he always does. On top of that, he’ll add something to his game, in traditional Dirk fashion.

Jason Kidd was the target of a lot of post-season criticism, and rightfully so. When the Mavs were playing well, it wasn’t because of Kidd; I wouldn’t say it was necessarily in spite of him, either. But it was extremely apparent that this team needed a training camp together. They’ve gotten their camp, and we’ll see if they storm out of the gates or falter. Regardless, the Mavericks should be in pretty good form come mid-season; the question is whether that form can be sustained until it really matters. Also, it will be important to see if Carlisle’s defensive strategy will be able to account for Kidd’s inability to keep up with the faster guards. The fact that Kidd is slowing down is largely overplayed, but it’s still visible. That’s fine, as long as the team defense can rally together to slow down the types of guards that will really burn them (Chris Paul, Tony Parker, etc.).

Carlisle’s a smart guy and most of the Mavericks roster has really taken to him. To me, that speaks volumes about what the man has learned through his coaching career thus far. He’s changing his coaching style to fit the personnel, to fit the team, and to better himself in such a position. It’s a really tough thing to do, and I commend him for it.

The shooting guard position remains a wee bit of a problem for Dallas, though. I mean, this is a team that brought in Greg Buckner because they thought he could help. GREG BUCKNER. Let that sink in for a minute. Jason Terry is incredible offensively and better than you’d expect defensively, but he’s much better at guarding opposing point guards than he is shooting guards. It’s not that he doesn’t display the effort or doesn’t close out; he just can’t always contest the shot of someone who can see right over him. Jerry Stackhouse is probably the most infuriating player on the roster, capable of scoring 20 one night and seemingly nears 20 turnovers the next. He has tunnel vision, which makes him a decent scorer and one of the dumbest players on the roster in terms of his court savvy. But hey, at least he has that whole size thing going for him. Antoine Wright is pretty much Stack’s polar opposite: a low turnover defensively focused swingman who is still trying to find a consistent shot. A lot of sources around the team have him penciled in as the starter, which should make for an interesting mix. If Wright can provide the defense at the 2 that the Mavs have been so desperately craving (if I hear “career high” or “season high” in reference to a Mav-opponent’s shooting guard one more time, I’m going to start bleeding from the ears), this could be a startling team. If not, then…sigh. Gerald Green is kind of an X-factor in the mix, but if I’m criticizing Stack for not playing D, I shouldn’t even be mentioning Green. I love the athleticism and boy, do I love cupcakes, but a swingman that doesn’t play D and can’t create his own shot is of no use to me.

Josh Howard isn’t the smartest dude on the planet, but he’s a baller. He’ll be motivated to prove his critics wrong this season (especially the boo-birds in Dallas), and to prove that he has a place among the best in the league. What I want to see personally is a recommitment to defense and to getting to the basket. Josh used to throw down dunks and slash with the best of them. He used to guard the opponent’s best wing player every night, do a great job, and never run out of energy. But as his game expanded offensively, he settled for more and more jumpers, and his defensive game became bigger in name than in quality. We all knew that he should be a good defender, but he didn’t always produce. This team needs Josh to return to form if they want a chance at making some noise, and I think he understands that.

The remaining bigs in the rotation will have an important role to play as well. Erick Dampier certainly isn’t worth what he’s getting paid these days, but he is a serviceable center. Pair him up with Diop and you’ve got a pretty solid tandem for the Mavs that helps them try to relive their ’06 glory days. Two fairly productive centers, both grossly overpaid. Welcome to the Dallas Mavericks. But Brandon Bass provides a splash of youth at the 4 or the 5, and he’s just about the only good young player this team has in the oven. He’s producing consistently on offense with his low post game, his explosive dunks, and his nice turnaround jumper, and on top of that I’m pretty sure he’s being paid in Gatorade, IOUs for a foot massage, and NBA logo socks. His growth will need to come at the defensive end, where he’s still lacking in fundamentals and footwork.

Last year’s team seemed shaky going into the playoffs, even in a decisive win over the Hornets in game 82. But with a new coach, a new focus, and some time to actually learn how to play with one another, they’ll surprise a lot of people with what they can accomplish. …but yeah, they’ll still get 6th in the West. What did you think I’d say? This conference is insane, man!



By Matt Moore:

I knew Dirk's game before last season. But, like many people, I took him for granted. I, along with the rest of the world, knew that his MVP award was probably not justified. But last season I took six games and all I did was was focus on Nowitzki. I saw the ease that he manages the floor. I noticed his positioning. And the shot. Man. Have you ever really watched Nowitzki shoot? I hadn't really notices how smooth it is. It's like a he's throwing bullets into a tin can. Just spikes it. His footwork is a step above. We all like to talk about young guys' size and athleticism, but the reason guys like Dirk kill them night in and night out is because their footwork is sterling silver. It's the tongue of the devil, quick and sharp. Okay, maybe that was too much.

The other reason? The Mavs have paid for their hubris. They suffered for their arrogance against the Heat as the Gods gave Dwyane Wade the Touch. Then they turned around and put together a regular season for the ages. And then were ruined not by fate or their own attitude, but by a wicked combination of matchups and karmic retribution for Cuban's dissolve with Nelson. That fanbase has watched its team go from nothing to the top and is now watching it fall apart. They desperately maneuvered for Kidd, and it didn't work out immediately. Remember, this team used to be a laughingstock. Failure to close the deal is just cruelty. You don't want to be cruel, do you? Do you?


Because I am too good to waste my time on the Mavs, I thought I would just right a little song for them. Saves me time (cause you all know they suck) and provides a different format for telling every other person how much I hope they fail. Nothing wrong with a little rythmn, even if the song is composed by Cannibal Corpse! So, without further ado, here are the 12 Days of Fail, starring your 2008-2009 Daaaaaaalllllllllllaaaaaaaasss
ssss Mavvvvvvvvvvverrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrricks.

On the 12th day of failure, the Mavericks gave to me: 12 Carlisle's offense we're a runnin' (poorly).
On the 11th day of failure, the Mavericks gave to me: 11 Josh Howard and his boys' pipers pipin'
On the 10th day of failure, the Mavericks gave to me: 10 Desagana Diops, he is a'leapin' (if gravity did not hate him)
On the 9th day of failure, the Mavericks gave to me: 9 Kidd's a dancin' (around defense)
On the 8th day of failure, the Mavericks gave to me: 8 Devean George's a milkin' (their preposterous contract)
On the 7th day of failure, the Mavericks gave to me: 7 (Brandon) Bass's a swimmin' (to the shore of another team so they will save him, Baywatch style)
On the 6th day of failure, the Mavericks gave to me: 6 Dirks a layin' (do I really need to reference his big game choke job eggs?)
On the 5th day of failure, the Mavericks gave to me: 5 suckers who wish they had rings (plus Jason Terry). Hey, remember when DWade (and the refs) pwned you, assbaskets?
On the 4th day of failure, the Mavericks gave to me: 4 balled up turds (make your own reference)
On the 3rd day of failure, the Mavericks gave to me: 3 stench has beens (Stackhouse, Dampier, JubJub?)
On the 2nd day of failure, the Mavericks gave to me: 2 fertile players (Terry and Dirk... what? I can at least say one mildly decent thing about this rooting corpse of a former contender, can't I?)
And on the Opening Day of failure, the Mavericks gave to me: a Mark Cuban colonoscopy!



Dirk remembers running through the wet grass, falling a step behind. Both him and JET never tiring, desperately wanting.


I'd probably be a lot harsher on Josh Howard if he beat up his wife, or shot someone, or got busted with heroin. Or if he was a Laker.

Taking JET out of his role as firestarter and into a corner perimeter threat is blasphemy. It's taking a bag of M-80's and dousing it in water. Free JET!

I'm kind of intrigued with Antoine Wright, just because so many players are getting great opportunities in breakout situations in Dallas. I mean, Brandon Bass and Antoine Wright leading a playoff charge. That would be awesome.

One of the many awesome things about live Mavs games is the drum crew. I thought it was bizarre the first time I saw it, but it really adds something. When you go to a Mavs game, you're getting a show.

I would just like to say... JUB-JUB! For those of you just joining us, Jub-Jub is my nickname for Jose Juan Barrea. Of the many reasons I hated the Kidd trade, the depreciation of Jub-Jub is the greatest. Jub-Jub will have his revenge!

Add to Technorati Favorites