5 New Year's Resolutions for the Dallas Mavericks
It would be too simplistic to just say "Dirk Nowitzki returns to All-Star form" and "no more five-game losing streaks."
The Dallas Mavericks' New Year's resolutions will be more complex. However, if followed, Dirk and the Mavs should be able to avoid any prolonged disasters in 2013.
In fact, Dallas could still be a playoff team if it doesn't fall off the wagon again.
* Statistics are accurate through games of December 28.
Crash the Boards
The Mavericks are well aware that defense and turnovers have been chronic problems.
They also know that rebounding has been a serious deficiency without Dirk around.
Just how bad has the board-work been?
Dallas has snatched exactly 47 percent of all missed shots this season. This is even more pathetic when you consider they aren't that close to No. 29, where the Boston Celtics and Sacramento Kings are in a dead-heat.
Also note that the Minnesota Timberwolves lead the NBA in rebound rate at 53.3 percent, and no other NBA team approaches 53 percent.
Therefore, Dallas' 47 percent ineptitude is the most glaring rebounding stat in the NBA sans Minnesota's aptitude.
What the Mavs really need is some attitude on the glass from all positions. When Dirk gets up to full speed, he will form a good rebounding duo once again with Shawn Marion at forward.
However, the center and guard positions lack much promise of improvement on the boards.
No More Overtime
In this economy, you should be happy to get overtime.
However, this rule doesn't apply if you are an NBA player. And especially not if you are a Dallas Maverick.
This has nothing to do with money. It's about paying a heavy price in the win/loss column.
After losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder December 27, the Mavs own an abysmal 0-5 record in overtime.
Darren Collison's miraculous off-balance trifecta forced the OT session at OKC. This Hail Mary heave made Dallas viewers deliriously happy.
But that type of happiness lasts only five minutes for Mavs fans. Or 10 minutes in the double-overtime loss to the Boston Celtics December 12.
We won't be dreading OT quite as much when Dirk is ready to shoot some crunch-time daggers.
However, this Mavs resolution should be to avoid overtime predicaments if at all possible.
Don't Panic in the Trade Market
The Mavs could certainly use some improvement at the key positions of point guard and center. But they shouldn't force a quick trade that comes back to bite them.
Nobody really knows what the Mavs have heading into 2013. It's possible Dirk and O.J. Mayo form a lethal combination that creates a formidable playoff contender.
It's just as possible that the two have no chemistry whatsoever, in which case the Mavs are doomed.
We are still almost two months from the trade deadline, and patience is a virtue for the time being.
That is unless the Phoenix Suns tell Donnie Nelson that center Marcin Gortat can be had straight up for Chris Kaman. That is a highly unlikely scenario, and so are most trade rumors right now.
My personal opinion is that Dallas will have an easier time upgrading its defense at point guard with the likes of Kyle Lowry. The Toronto Raptors are getting a good season from Jose Calderon, so they might deal Lowry for a big man like Kaman.
This is pure speculation on my part. I would consider that deal only because Kaman is injury-prone. For now, I would stand pat and see if Collison continues his hot hand at the point.
O.J. Can't Choke at the Charity Stripe
O.J. Mayo has been clutch in several games this season at crunch time. However, he clearly tends to choke at the free-throw line when the game is hanging in the balance.
This is a very harsh accusation, but we are supposed to be "telling it like it is" ala Howard Cosell.
Part of the reason this problem stands out is because Mayo normally shoots 85 percent from the line. I'm not sure if that should make us feel better or worse. It is what it is.
The first piece of evidence in a Mavs uniform came against the Philadelphia 76ers on November 27. Mayo needed to make two throws to force overtime (yea, I know the Mavs would have probably lost in OT anyway on the road).
Mayo bricked the first shot, forcing him to intentionally miss the second. Jae Crowder retrieved the loose ball but missed at the buzzer.
The latest example was at Oklahoma City, and it was twice as bad. Down three points with 33 seconds left in overtime, Mayo was fouled on a three-point shot. Sounds great, except he gagged on the first two free-throw attempts.
Neither of those misses were intentional, obviously. And another Mavs overtime loss was sealed.
Again, Dirk's presence will help rectify this situation as he takes most of the shots down the stretch of tight games.
However, Mayo will have to prove this accusation of mine a falsehood at some point. I just hope he gets a chance to show he's not another Nick Anderson someday in the NBA Finals.
Treasure Our Living Legend
The Mavericks made the best of a bad situation this past offseason. Remember how deflated we were after striking out on Deron Williams?
Dallas rallied by signing Mayo on the cheap from the Memphis Grizzlies. Kaman and Collison were worth a shot as well.
Dirk had to get his knee scoped, but something like that was bound to happen during his lengthy career.
2013 should be much better. The Dirk/Mayo combo is potentially dynamic. If it proves not to be, at least Dallas will know not to give Mayo a huge contract.
For the time being, let's just count our blessings.
Forty-one is a number that Dallas Mavericks fans should always treasure. Dirk Nowitzki is back, and he's not going anywhere.
Dirk's annual resolution is to lead his team into the playoffs. It looks like a longshot at the moment, but you would be foolish to bet against the Mavs' living legend.