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Dallas Mavericks 2010-11 NBA Season Preview: The 12 'How's' Print E-mail
by Mike Fisher    Mon, Oct 25, 2010, 03:42 am

      The 2010-11 Dallas Mavericks are locked into a series of themes: “Sameness’’ is good. “Familiarity’’ is good. “Selflessness’’ is good. “Depth’’ is good. “Consistency’’ is good. “Good’’ is good.

    But “good’’ isn’t great.

    This is a time when every team in the NBA is a contender … a classification that is especially true of the Mavs, who have been “at the lip of the cup’’ (to use a pet term of those in charge) for a full decade now. That’s good … but how to explode from “good’’ to “great’’?

    We’ll lean on the resources of for our Mavericks season preview as we explore the “hows’’ …



   1 How Can Perspective Be So Warped? Today, the Lakers are getting old, the Celtics don’t have enough left for one more run, and the Heat have yet to prove they can play together … or so say the hopes of all opposing teams. Today, your team is right there with them all. Today, almost every team is a contender.

    10X50. It’s damn good. But it is also, to some Dallas fans exhausted and disappointed by so many “damn goods,’’ not exciting or enticing enough.

    We wonder this: Had the Mavs held onto their three-and-seven/eighths lead in the 2006 NBA Finals, would MavsLand be a vastly different land? We would’ve been temporarily sated, of course … but four years later, would we still be exhausted and disappointed? Maybe more so, because the Mavs had “only’’ one ring?

    Ah, how sweet it would be to someday know the answer to how that feels …

   2 How Have The Mavs Done In Addressing Summer Shopping Needs? As free agency began we posed questions about potential roster weaknesses. Answers? Backup point guard, backup power forward and bench scoring.

    Fixes? With the re-retirement of Tim Thomas, with Roddy Beaubois’ injury, and with the uncertainly of who will even man that bench … we don’t know if those issues are fixed.

   Let's focus just one that last one -- the bench. Shawn Marion is being shifted there but might not love it. Jason Terry belongs there, too, but may be required to begin the season as a starter. 

  So amid all the solid grades Dallas has been given by the national media … the only real credit goes to the Mavs’ ability to keep their own. Retaining Dirk Nowitzki is huge. Retaining Brendan Haywood is nice. DUST-for-Tyson Chandler is a chess-move advancement.

    But in terms of Mavs Summer Shopping, the wallet pretty much stayed in the pants pocket.

     3 How Many “Ifs’’ Have To Come To Fruition? Wanna play The “if” Game? Join the club. Every team has to do that. Every team has weaknesses and strengths.

   For Dallas, let’s bunch together Nine Quick “Ifs”:

   If Dirk can play at or near his recent levels … If Caron Butler can rebound from an off year … If Roddy B can be that dynamic scorer from the 2-guard … If Terry can return to “Sixth Man of the Year” form … If Tyson Chandler can stay healthy … If Haywood can stay motivated … If Jason Kidd can continue to defy his age … If rookie Dominique Jones can be a contributor … If coach Rick Carlisle can trust and deploy his depth …

   If these things can happen, then the Mavs will be contenders. Real contenders.

    4 How Many “Ifs’’ Does A Team Like The Lakers Have? Mavs owner Mark Cuban has constant visions of “Beat LA’’ dancing in his head. GM Donnie Nelson concedes that most every move around here is designed to chase the Lakers.

    So let’s try it:

    “If” … If Kobe can stay healthy and play at or near his recent levels … If Artest can rebound from what was mostly a disappointing year … If Derek Fisher can defy his age and remain effective at opportune moments … If Steve Blake can perform as well as or better than Jordan Farmar … If Bynum can get and stay healthy … If Caracter can make an impact from the bench … If Odom doesn’t show fatigue after heavy minutes in the FIBA tournament … If Matt Barnes can mesh with an already established rotation …

    So yes, LA has ‘em, too. But we couldn’t really create one for Gasol. And the Kobe “if’’ seems like wishful thinking, eh?

   5 How Can Dallas’ “Minor’’ Changes Become Major? What separates Dallas from the Spurs, Heat, Lakers and Celtics, of course, is that those teams have the balm of a recent title. For the Mavs, last season ended far earlier than expected. With that disappointment come the justifiable concerns over a team that remained primarily unchanged at its core.

     Still, though the changes may be considered “minor,” they have the potential to have a significant impact.

   Erick Dampier was replaced by Tyson Chandler. Matt Carroll was essentially replaced by DoJo. Tim Thomas and Eddie Najera are out while Brian Cardinal, Ian Mahinmi, Steve Novak and Alexis Ajinca are in.

   OK, we admit it: A couple of “goods,’’ a couple of “maybes’’ and a couple of “eh’s.’’

    Not much “major’’ in there.

    6 How Much Of An Upgrade Is Dallas’ Two-Headed Center? Clearly, the most significant change is the severing of ties with incumbent starting center Erick Dampier, who will likely be replaced by Brendan Haywood as the starter … with Chandler completing the primary center rotation. How will this tandem be used specifically? was told over the weekend that right now, Haywood will be the starter and Chandler is likely to be the finisher … and that massaging Big Wood’s ego is a concern.

    But whatever the utilization, barring an emotional blowup, both would seem to be an upgraded fit for this roster compared to Dampier.

   Both are capable of defending the quicker, more athletic centers of the modern NBA. Both, especially Chandler, are more apt to be a strong offensive presence in transition. By comparison, both have shown a much higher capacity for defending the pick-and-roll. And, on a team defensively prone to penetration from the guard positions, both are much more fleet-of-foot for the purposes of help defense and rotations.

    None of that is a rip on Damp. He was a core member of the “damn goods.’’ But Big Wood/TC represents younger models, a bigger tool box … and there are two of them.

   7 How Ready Is DoJo To Help Now? The next change comes from the absence of the “victory cigar” Matt Carroll … if he was in, one team or the other was already celebrating a win … and the presence of Dominique Jones. On paper, and on the court, these players could not be greater opposites.

   Carroll earned his contract for a skill he never displayed in a Dallas uniform, proficient shooting from behind the arc. This was his single dimension of supposed strength, yet his only real contribution to the team was having a more attractive contract than DeSagana Diop. He was not a strong defender or gifted creator, and he struggled to find his stroke in Dallas; shooting only 18.5 percent from 3-point range as a Mav.

   Meanwhile, DoJo is not known to have a great outside shot – though Jones and Mavs coaches have worked all summer at fixing that. He is, however, a gifted on-man defender, as we caught a glimpse of against John Wall in Vegas, and he thrives when creating and attacking the rim. He will only be a rookie, and most will cite Roddy B’s struggle for minutes regardless of production last season to rationalize harboring some hesitancy over how much Carlisle will allow him to see the court.

    But he can play. This year, next year, whenever. He can play. We're beginning to believe that with Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd as the unshakeable foundation, the rookie really could be "hammocked'' by their presence.

    Of course, we thought that about Roddy B last year, too. And we were right.

    This year, we want Rick Carlisle to be right, too.

   8 How Will Dallas Get Physical? One change that is likely a negative is the loss of Eddie Najera. Cuban recently characterized “El Rayo’’ as a departee who “never played,’’ but once he got re-acclimated to his new/old team, Najera was an important piece when this team needed an emotional boost/push/pull/shove.

    Does Big Wood do more of that? Ian Mahinmi, maybe? How about Cardinal doing his old “Janitor’’ act? Is DoJo ready to push people around? Caron “Tuff Juice’’ Butler?

   Again, Eduardo would never be mistaken for the most physically gifted player on the court, but there’s little doubt he held the ability to change games. He acted as an enforcer, as seen in the Spurs series, which few others on this roster have shown a proclivity towards doing … outside of the sparingly-used DeShawn Stevenson.

   It appears as though familiar “Thug It Up’’ cries aimed at this team might again go unanswered.

    9 How About FREE RODDY B?  Tell us something we don’t know.

    One internal shift that could shift everything: The intention to move Roddy Beaubois into the starting 2-guard role. Obviously, this is delayed by the injury to his foot, but the motivation remains. If Roddy B can provide the same electric ability to score beside Kidd as we saw last year in gusts, this could be a game-changer.

    Carlisle insists that we not apply too much pressure here. But Rick, we know what we saw.

   Last year, Roddy B’s scoring rate of 20.4 points per 36 minutes last season was second only to Dirk Nowitzki’s 24 on the Mavs, putting him ahead of Terry’s 18.1 or Butler’s 15.9.

   His 18.5 PER was again second only to Dirk’s 22.9.

   This member of “The 50/40/80 Club’’ needs to be channeled properly, yes. … but in a hurry, too.

   The potential is for something this team has missed since Michael Finley’s departure … a pure scorer at the 2-guard. Roddy could also address a somewhat unique circumstance to the Mavs, the need for a SG capable of defending opposing PGs and thus allowing the Mavs to protect Jason Kidd from having to defend players much quicker than him.

   We’ve had plenty of conversations with Mavs coaches about the things Roddy B cannot yet do. He struggled as a team defender as a rookie campaign, particularly with the fighting through or around picks. He needs to find a balance between “cool’’ and making certain he understands the importance of intensity. There are still language barriers (though staffers like Monte Mathis and now new French teammates Mahinmi and Ajinca are helping). Roddy B will get pounded if he ever is assigned to guard 2’s. He can’t yet run an offense – and we still don’t think Dallas should even bother demanding him to do something that is still so unnaturual.

   But welcome to The Big Time, kid. This is your job. Be a star. And hurry up about it, will ya?

   10 How can Caron Butler become an All-Star again? has crunched a skillion numbers a skillion ways on this subject. This time, we’re going to do it with the help of assistant coach Dwane Casey, who engaged us in conversation a couple of days ago on this very subject.

     “Caron isn’t just capable of being what people call ‘an All-Star-caliber player,’’’ Casey says. “He is capable of being an All-Star. One of the best dozen players in the conference. A star. An All-Star. He’s done it (twice) before. Caron can be that now.’’

   11 How Can The Mavs Make One More Move? The aforementioned changes may not have been earth shattering, and LeBron isn’t playing for the Mavs, but there are reasons for hope with the current roster. There’s also the promise of assets yet to be used. It’s been well-chronicled by that Dallas harbors just over $29 million worth of expiring contracts and a willingness to use them.

   Carmelo Anthony? Chris Paul? The rainbow chase after those two?

    12 How can 10X50 lead to a title? As fans and followers, all we can demand is a chance to compete.

    Oh, OK, you can demand more than that if you wish. We would gently submit to you, however, that if you “demand’’ titles as if they are your birthright or as if it is your “turn,’’ you probably don’t understand sports. Or life.

     The Texas Rangers aren’t in the World Series because of some simplistic “due theory’’ or because “they did things the right way’’ or because of some sort of “karma.’’

     A team’s relationship with greatness? It’s complicated.

    The Mavs are one of the few teams in the NBA that have put themselves in perennial position to have a relationship with greatness. Whether or not you support a history of Mavs management decisions, it’s hard to deny the encouraging strides with this current edition of the club. Where will this road lead?

   Today, the Mavs are a contender … again.

   Of course, so is almost everyone else.


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Comments (2)add comment
written by David Catalano , October 26, 2010

Watch Joe Gannascoli ("Vito from The Sopranos) make a guest appearance on this weeks "NFL Rhyme Reel : Hosted by Nick Javas! CHECK OUT WHAT HE HAS TO SAY ABOUT TONY ROMO!!

written by trecy , November 09, 2010

Kobe can stay healthy and play at or near his recent celebrity dresses

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