Disclaimer: As a coach, I have always hated the postseason awards process, especially terms like "MVP."
With the Internet having been a huge source of sports stories for over 10 years now, hundreds of "award" and "grade" columns have been written, read, and discussed. I don't want to write one, but frankly, they are easy to write and good debate fodder. Also, I don't want to go off and write that hit song, "Alone in My Principles," so here goes.
Ladies and Gentlemen, here are your Dallas Mavericks Mid-Season Awards!
The "Where in the Heck Would We Be Without JJ Barea" Award goes to:
If you just check his stats, he averages only 7.0 points and 3.3 assists in 19.6 minutes per game this season. Here's the real stat though, 9-1 after losing four straight in November, with Barea starting six of those.
Nothing like hitting, the "last game of the season, can't hold anything back now" mode nine games into his Mavericks coaching career, but the decision to give Barea a shot early saved Dallas from being Lottery City early on.
The "Where in the Heck Would This Franchise Be Without Dirk Nowitzki" Award goes to:
People will complain that Dirk isn't a leader or a crunch-time scorer. Here are the facts: former MVP of the NBA, eight-time All-NBA, and the greatest foreign-born player in league history.
In addition to saving the series against San Antonio and Phoenix in 2006, Nowitzki is the face of the franchise. All you have to remember is that Dallas was widely considered the worst franchise in the NBA, if not all of professional sports, before his acquisition from the Bucks in 1998 (along with Steve Nash from Phoenix and the rejuvenation of Don Nelson).
For the record, the Big German is averaging 25.6 points per game (three better than career average), 8.7 rebounds per game, and 91.3 percent from the free throw line.
The "Where in the Heck Would We Be Without Jason Terry Late in the Game" Award goes to:
Jason Terry has reached a local status that puts him on par with Dirk now: Terry can now be referred to as "JET."
If you want to know something I hate, it's to hear announcers and fans refer to a player by first name or nickname before he has earned it. I can't stand listening to anyone call Josh Howard, "Josh."
But with a flurry of late game shots and big second half production, JET has earned the right to carry a nickname. Personal example: I attended the Mavs game against the Timberwolves on Dec. 30th, which is now the largest comeback in franchise history (29 point deficit). Jason Terry was electric in the second half, scoring 24 points, and doing that Airplane Dance after every jumper he sank.
He is the big shot taker, the missing piece to the team that should've won the 2006 Finals.
The "Where in the Heck Would We Be With Avery Johnson" Award goes to:
Carlisle is an enigma to me: the Mavs seem to genuinely like him, he seems to work well in Dallas, but I'm really afraid he's about to screw things up in a franchise that isn't very mentally tough to begin with.
In fairness, the National Guard would've had to restore order during training camp if Avery Johnson were still the coach in Big D. However, Avery did have a clear direction and plan, albeit the wrong one for the personnel.
I'm not sure about Rick Carlisle. His starting lineups are always in flux, and the two guard position is on some sort of men-stral cycle, with Gerald Green, Antoine Wright, and JJ Barea seemingly coming and leaving monthly. I'm feeling a little 2007 Wade Phillips thing happening here.
The "Where the Heck Would the Mavs Be Without Jason Kidd" Award goes to:
Jason Kidd is still the best passer alive, and he's pulling down eight assists a game. Kidd is shooting the ball better than last year and has apparently been a good influence in the locker room. But with Devin Harris looking like a poor-man's Pistol Pete for the first half of the season, the loss of that offensive talent and two No. 1's is tough to swallow.
The "The Only Time I'm Not Smoking is the Fourth Quarter" Award goes to:
I think Josh Howard should be considered a starter in the sense that we do starting pitchers. A good starting pitcher will pitch six solid innings (2/3 of the game), and then go in to the clubhouse, take a shower, and watch the closer slam the door while he's slamming the buffet and watching on TV. No one gets upset if the starter does this, and I think if we change our perspective on Josh Howard, he's an All-Star. Just think of him as Ricky Pierce in reverse.
The Old Yeller "It's Time for Me to Go" Award goes to:
It's sad to see things end for a player who was a key player to the greatest run in franchise history, and for Jerry Stackhouse, the Mark Cuban probably should've Old-Yellered him about a season and a half ago. Stack sacrificed every ounce of physical, mental, and emotional toughness and energy for that 2006 title, and when the Mavs didn't win (see Wade, Dwayne), Stack was done.
He just had nothing left to give in the 67 win season, but with things going unbelievably well in the regular season, everyone ignored this. When it was Stackhouse time in the playoffs though, Dallas realized his career had died the season before and folded without their toughest player.
Since he was one of the few players who fit what Avery Johnson wanted to do, he remained a year too long. I know Carlisle didn't seem to give Stack a chance, but someone had to put Jerry Stackhouse's Mavericks career out of its and our misery.
That's all for the awards. So, where do the Mavs stand right now? Well, they're 22-17 as of today, and they are mainly beating bad teams like the Clippers, T-Wolves, and Knicks.
They have only won one game this year against a team with an elite point guard (versus Phoenix in Dallas) or Kobe Bryant/LeBron James, so if they make the playoffs, they have to avoid Phoenix, the Lakers, New Orleans, and Utah. Things don't look good, but at least we're only half-way through, and where the heck will the Mavs end up without Jason Kidd?