Dallas Mavericks, Point Blank: Without a Premier PG, What's Next?
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I've been saying it for over a year, although I don't know if anyone realized how bad things might get: Mark Cuban made nothing short of a colossal miscalculation when he allowed the NBA champions to dissolve last summer, in my mind avoiding even a modicum of common sense.
Jason Kidd was showing his age even before he got his ring, yet the Maverick front office allowed J.J. Barea, Kidd's sparkplug backup, to depart in the debacle.
Now things appear to be snowballing—Deron Williams isn't coming, Steve Nash isn't coming back and something tells me Jeremy Lin isn't either.
My dark horse, Chauncey Billups, is headed back to the Clippers, so the rest of the pool is pretty much run-of-the-mill and there's a good chance that's all the Mavs may end up with.Who will it be? Ramon Sessions? Kirk Heinrich? D.J. Augustin?
The Mavs were hoping for someone to work with Jason Kidd and that won’t be happening either since he reversed his earlier decision and decided to set up permanent shop in the Hamptons and end his career with the Knicks.
Maybe it's time for Rodrigue Beaubois to make or break or let Delonte West or young Jared Cunningham run the point. At this stage it's anybody's guess.
After last summer's purge and the failure of the 2011-2012 team to do much more than pale by comparison (thank you Lamar Kardashian), many observers began to dwell in the inevitable doom and gloom that it's time to trade Dirk, rebuild and thank Mark Cuban for committing the team to the lottery for the foreseeable future.
For the first time, I myself am wondering if that's what's on the menu. Yes, it could happen—but since team management always listens to me, I just hope they'll take my advice before making us all cry.
My answer: not necessarily.
Teams have been successful with good, but not great point guards. Okay, I won't mention Michael Jordan's Bulls, that's cheating. But how about the Lakers with Derek Fisher? Who beat the Mavericks in 2006? The Heat, with Jason Williams. And by the way, I hear they won this year again with Mario Chalmers, who was their point guard in the finals last year.
And when they beat Dallas in 2006, the Mavs themselves made the finals with Devin Harris and Jason Terry handling the ball.
"Yeah but..." I know, I get it.
It's also important to note that in a league now largely dominated by "Big Threes" (Boston, San Antonio, Miami, OKC) the Mavs won the title last year with only one All-Star reserve. So just indulge me here for a minute.
It has been my contention that while an upgrade at the point has been a priority based on what happened after the championship as noted above, there's a lot to be said for having someone in the paint who can score and rebound and how that helps any playmaker. I have never wavered in saying that the top priority needs to be help down low.
The ability to drive and penetrate is without question very important, however, without a presence in the paint you're a lot more likely to come up empty. Without help around the basket you don't have options when you make it inside and don't have a good shot.
Tyson Chandler scores in double figures and has a high field-goal percentage partly because he's frequently the on the receiving end of drop-offs and alley-oops as a result of having good hands and getting good position.
Isn’t it interesting that when he moved to a team with Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin, his scoring average actually went up?
I originally felt that the Mavs needed a defensive center first, but that was under the assumption that an upgrade at the point was likely. I would still prefer a well-rounded player along the lines of Chris Kaman to the one-sided Brook Lopez-type, but such an option would be less unattractive now.
I still think Brandan Wright can fill that role, but he'll need to do it at the power forward slot without taking too many of Dirk's minutes. In this instance, maybe Dirk could slide over to the 5 or even the 3.
A lot of coaching is making the most of what you have. Rick Carlisle has proven he's a first-rate NBA coach, but it's anybody's guess if he can crawl out of these ashes. The ray of hope emanates from a championship season in which an unorthodox Maverick team won a title no one expected them to compete for.
Could 2013 be the year of the most surprising Mavericks of all? I think we may be about to find out.
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