Detailing the Dallas Mavericks' Downward Spiral Since 2011 NBA Finals
During the 2011 NBA postseason, the Dallas Mavericks scratched and clawed their way to the franchise's first ever NBA championship. They made it past the Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat.
Since then, it has been nothing short of a stunning downward spiral.
The Mavericks finished the 2011-12 regular season at 36-30. They ended up being swept out of the first round by the same OKC team that they defeated one year prior.
In 2011-12, the Mavs have started at a mere 13-20.
The question is, how did Dallas go from such a monumental high to such a devastating low in a matter of one year? In order to answer that question, B/R has broken down the biggest turning points over the past two seasons.
So, where did it all begin?
1. Letting Tyson Chandler Walk
Rarely can you place an exact date on the time in which a team's collapse from greatness began. For the Dallas Mavericks, you can.
Dec. 11, 2011.
In turn, Dallas fell apart.
Dallas improved from a statistical standpoint, allowing 1.2 points less per game in 2011-12. Their win percentage also equated to 45 victories during an 82-game season.
They won 57 in 2010-11.
The No. 1 reason for this truth is the fact that the Mavericks failed to create any sense of consistency at center.
Brendan Haywood and Ian Mahinmi split time starting. Brandan Wright displayed a surprising level of efficiency.
In 2012-13, Chris Kaman has been solid. He's also battled injuries and lacks the defensive prowess and explosive athleticism of Chandler.
Such has led to the Mavs ranking 28th in scoring defense.
All in all, the Mavericks have failed miserably to replace Chandler at center. Which is where their collapse begins.
2. Failing to Replace Barea
Three days after Tyson Chandler signed with the New York Knicks, the Dallas Mavericks lost another key member of their 2011 NBA Finals victory.
Jose Juan Barea.
Although we can unanimously agree that Barea's price tag was too large for Dallas to pick up. The issue, however, was that Mark Cuban failed to replace the Mavs' spark plug.
In turn, it was on the injury-prone Jason Kidd and inconsistent Rodrigue Beaubois to carry the load in 2011-12.
Throughout the duration of the season, the Mavericks' lack of a reliable second-unit point guard was on full display. With Kidd averaging career lows of 6.2 points and 5.5 assists, one could even argue he was a liability.
Although Darren Collison has been an upgrade in 2012-13, the Mavs lack the quality point guard play to succeed come the postseason.
Yet another reason Dallas has fallen into a downward spiral.
3. What Happened to the Three-Ball?
During the Dallas Mavericks' magical run to the 2011 NBA championship, their No. 1 weapon was the three-ball.
Jason Terry, Peja Stojakovic, Jason Kidd, Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson and Dirk Nowitzki all lit it up from beyond the arc. Even as Butler went down, they had enough depth to continue their ways.
Unfortunately, Dallas did nothing in 2010-11 to return to said ways.
Stevenson and Butler signed elsewhere. Stojakovic retired.
In response to their departures, the Mavericks decided to sign Vince Carter and Delonte West to step in for the three-ball. Although solid, they could not supply the necessary contributions.
Even as statistics show similarities, the Mavericks were not the same perimeter threat.
This led to an underwhelming season from Dirk Nowitzki and an early postseason exit.
4. The Lamar Odom Project
On the same day that Tyson Chandler made his signing with the New York Knicks official, the Dallas Mavericks acquired Lamar Odom (via The Los Angeles Times).
The move made sense, as Odom was the reigning Sixth Man of the Year award winner. He'd averaged 14.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 2010-11.
Unfortunately, it didn't turn out so well in Dallas.
Odom played in 50 of the Mavericks' 66 games, averaging 6.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists.
Less than four months later, Dallas and Odom agreed to part ways (via ESPN Dallas).
Acquiring Odom appeared to be the type of move that would keep Dallas in title contention. Instead, it turned out to be one that created a side-show with no rewards.
An unfortunate turn of events on the road to recovery.
5. Swinging and Missing on Deron Williams
According to Ken Berger of CBS Sports, point guard Deron Williams was the Dallas Mavericks' top target during the 2012 offseason.
Williams later cited owner Mark Cuban's absence at a meeting between the two sides as a reason he re-signed with the Nets (via ESPN Dallas). Cuban was, instead, filming an episode of Shark Tank.
In turn, Dallas' best chance at establishing legitimacy in 2012-13 was lost. Their backup plan ended up being Indiana Pacers reserve Darren Collison and the mercurial O.J. Mayo.
What more did you expect?
Although Mayo has been a pleasant surprise, there is no way around how poorly Dallas managed their offseason. They placed all of their eggs in one basket, per say, and ended up with nothing.
They've gone from NBA champions to a fringe playoff team in no time at all.
6. Dirk Nowitzki's Injury
Prior to the 2012-13 NBA regular season, Dirk Nowitzki received surgery on his nagging right knee (via ESPN Dallas).
In some eyes, this was a temporary hold on the Dallas Mavericks' dreams of winning another title. For others, it was a sign of the end.
Twenty-seven games into the season, Dallas Mavericks play-by-play announcer Mark Followill reported that Nowitzki would finally return. Optimism began to mount.
Dirk may continue to perform at an All-Star caliber level, but he's a 34-year-old with a history of knee troubles. He may be a killer in the clutch, but he will not carry the Mavs for 48 minutes.
Not anymore. Not every night.
This is why the Mavericks have been stuck in mediocrity ever since the 2010-11 season. Their limitless depth no longer exists.
Instead, it is on Dirk to carry the Mavericks. Something his weak knees cannot do.
O.J. Mayo is a potential franchise player and a rising star in this league. That isn't enough for Dallas, however, unless Darren Collison proves to be an All-Star in his own right.
Until the Mavericks add young and athletic depth, they will not make deep postseason runs.
No matter how hard Dirk tries to will them to another title. No matter how loud Mark Cuban screams.
This is rebuilding with a superstar, folks. Never an easy time.