Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Bench Woes: Trade Croshere for Najera

Pretty good so far: 18-7. I'm not very impressed with our new reserves though. So far our bench is not as strong as last season's...of course that has a lot to do with Devin Harris being a starter now. Here are some notable players, for better or for worse:

Anthony Johnson: He dribbles too much. He's not a quick-thinker like JET or Harris. Plus his field-goal percentage is not too impressive at .396
Austin Croshere: So far he's been mediocre at best. He's basically a non-factor, a slow Keith Van Horn with muscles. His field-goal percentage is at a career low at .323
Stackhouse has been okay, but nothing special. He's still recovering from injury...at least that's what I hope.
Devean George hasn't been great either. He's shooting .325
Greg Buckner: Hard to tell...like Adrian Griffin, he's not going to put up amazing stats. He does a lot of dirty work. His shooting's not bad though.
Maurice Ager: Good call sending him to the D-League. Maybe he can learn how to pass the basketball in Fort Worth.

The starters (Harris, Terry, Howard, Nowitzki, Dampier) have been outstanding. We probably have the best starting lineup in the league considering how well these guys are playing. I just hope the bench can pick it up and come together as a unit. For now, I say trade Croshere for Najera. This would help allow Denver to bring in Allen Iverson. Plus we get a hard-working fan favorite back. I think Najera could be a lot more effective under Avery than Croshere currently is. We'll see what happens later. After all, it is a long season...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

This is What Cuban is Talking About!

In today's very close USA vs. Brazil game, Carmelo Anthony went down with a hyperextended knee. People call Cuban selfish when he says he does not want his players participating in these international games during the offseason. But most of the players chosen for this FIBA tournament and U.S. Olympic team are franchise players (i.e. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, etc.). Some of these guys get paid as much as $15 or $20 million a year to play for their respective teams. A simple knee injury like Carmelo's could affect his, well...effectiveness next season with Denver. He'll probably be fine, but it should be noted that the Denver Nuggets just re-signed him for five years worth about $80 million. If you were paying that much for a guy, wouldn't you want him to limit his activity during the offseason? Dirk is playing for Germany, which of course makes us all a bit nervous. But it's very important to him to represent his country. Fortunately, as ridiculous as the decision-making was, it's probably a good thing guys like Josh Howard and Jason Terry were not chosen to be part of the US Olympic team. The more rest during the offseason, the better. Cuban and other NBA owners are right to be nervous when their franchise player(s) go off to play another grueling season during the NBA's offseason. It may have to do with money vs. product, but afterall, the NBA is a business.

Meanwhile here's the updated Mavs roster:

PG: Jason Terry, Devin Harris, Anthony Johnson
SG: Greg Buckner, Jerry Stackhouse, Maurice Ager
SF: Josh Howard, Devean George
PF: Dirk Nowitzki, Austin Croshere, Pops Mensah-Bonsu
C: DeSagana Diop, Erick Dampier, DJ Mbenga

Very nice: A+

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Mid-Summer's Grade: A

Priority #1: Re-Signing Jason Terry - Met

Jason Terry was re-signed for six years, $50 million. This was agreed upon the very first day of negotiations..very good sign! Glad to keep Terry on!

Priority #2: Replacing Keith Van Horn - Met

Marquis Daniels was traded to Indiana for Austin Croshere, a Van Horn clone. Hopefully Croshere can stay healthier and rebound a little better. He will, like Van Horn, back up Dirk at power forward and play some center in smaller lineups.

Priority #3: Trade/Replace Marquis Daniels - Met

The priority I was not aware of was trading Marquis. Marquis' lack of shooting ability has frustrated Avery long enough. From my understanding, Don Nelson loved Marquis because of his versatility of positions (point guard, two-guard, small forward) and his ability to run the fast-break. But Avery prefers the more well-rounded players in Stackhouse and Howard over Daniels. Griffin's tough defense and lack of turnovers also put him ahead of Marquis. And obviously Avery prefers Terry, Harris, and sometimes Armstrong over Daniels to run the point. I'm fascinated by these different perceptions of Marquis by the different coaches. I think Marquis will do very well in Indiana. I hope he starts and does well under Rick Carlisle. Marquis can easily be a 20 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds kind of guy. Avery's system just wasn't right for him.

Other transactions: We got Greg Buckner back! He will likely START at shooting guard. He is a great defender, he's developed a perimeter shot, and is an overall upgrade from Adrian Griffin talent-wise. He will be the guy to guard the likes of Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Manu Ginobli, etc. DJ Mbenga was also re-signed.
Maurice Ager was our draft pick. I really like his hustle and his aggressiveness. He's a rookie who can actually contribute and probably be in the regular rotation. He can shoot, attack, and defend. He might be given some minutes behind Buckner to guard some of the big-dog shooting guards as well.

So here's what we've got so far:

PG: Jason Terry, Devin Harris
SG: Greg Buckner, Maurice Ager
SF: Josh Howard, Jerry Stackhouse, Rawle Marshall
PF: Dirk Nowitzki, Austin Croshere, Josh Powell
C: DeSagana Diop, Erick Dampier, DJ Mbenga, Pavel Podkolzine

Not bad, but there's still more to do:

*Sign a third-point guard. Darrell Armstrong wants to play for one more year, so he may be the best option for that. At least nothing will have changed from last season's point guard rotation.

I'd be fine with keeping the 15-man roster at that, but there's still talk about what to do with guys like Pavel, Rawle, and Josh P. I'm not a big fan of Pavel. We've already got 3 good centers and one or two other guys that can play the 5 ahead of him. I'd trade him for a draft pick, but I hope he surprises me. He has been doing pretty well in the summer league. Marshall needs to stay. He's been a star in the summer league and he could be a guy to hold onto if Stackhouse walks after next season. As for Josh Powell, I say keep him. There's talk about sign-and-trading Keith Van Horn to Denver for Eduardo Najera! I'm not so sure about that considering Najera's bad knees. But we'll see...it is fun to get old players back (i.e. Buckner, Griffin), especially a fan-favorite such as Eddie.

So far, so good.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A Bittersweet End

There is no worse feeling as a die-hard fan than to see your team get eliminated, especially when the expectations are so high. I imagine it's worse for a player or coach. It's very frustrating. So many factors played into with why we lost: Dwayne Wade's unstoppable performance, great team-defense by Miami, Dallas missing so many critical shots, inconsistent showings from Dirk and Josh, awful officiating, bad decisions made by Stu Jackson, etc. I don't believe, however, that Mark Cuban in any way hurt the team. The press is having a lot of fun with this. They want to make it look like Mark Cuban ruined everything because he's this big huge distraction. Well that's all bullshit. The players and coaches don't have anything to do with what Cuban does or says about the league and the officials. It doesn't affect them at all. They're concerned entirely with playing basketball. If Cuban distracted the players every time he opened his mouth, this franchise would have fallen apart years ago. He is a blessing to this organization and he is incredibly passionate for the game and his players. I loved it when he called 103.3 FM today and ripped that redneck Randy Galloway for calling the Mavs "gutless." What an idiot! I have completely lost respect for Galloway. He completely disrespected all the Mavericks players, coaches, and fans. Mind you, this is a LOCAL radio broadcaster and writer for the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. He has no business insulting the Mavericks for playing their hearts out and leaving it all on the court. As frustrating as it is to have lost, I am extremely proud of the Mavericks. The team completely beat all odds this season. No one expected us to sweep Memphis, let alone beat San Antonio IN San Antonio, and many had their doubts about the series with Phoenix. This was the best season in Dallas Mavericks history. It was the first time this franchise has ever made it to the NBA Finals, and I believe that this is the best Mavericks team ever put together. There was no Steve Nash or Jason Kidd running the point...it was Jason Terry and Devin Harris! There was no Michael Finley or Antawn Jamison...it was the scrappy players in Adrian Griffin, Stack, 'Quis, and Josh Howard that got the job done. I am glad to have heard that Cuban and Avery are committed to keeping this team together (i.e. re-signing Terry, and hopefully re-signing Griff). I'll write a blog about transactions as the summer progresses. But this is undoubtedly a championship-calibre team. How could it not be when a team beats the defending champions on their own floor AND shuts down one of the most potent offenses (Phoenix) the league has ever seen??? And just as a reminder: This was Avery Johnson's first full season as a head coach and he led us to the Finals...I'd say our future is quite promising. The guy's not going anywhere. He's staying in Dallas for a very long time and he will lead us to a championship. It's not a matter of if, but WHEN. Congratulations to our team for the best season, so far...

Friday, June 16, 2006

Mavs vs. Heat, NBA, AND ABC?

The 2-0 series lead is gone. All of a sudden Miami has tied it up, and they have the momentum. Jerry Stackhouse has been wrongly suspended for a hard foul against Shaq, who by the way didn't even complain about the foul. I would not have liked to been around A.J. today. He has decided to move the team to a hotel 45 minutes away from Miami Beach. This is to help make sure the players are staying in the hotel and are completely focused on the game. And today Johnson was lashing out at the league for Stackhouse's suspension, saying that there is no consistency in these decisions and that some players are clearly favored over others. I can't help but wonder if this has something to do with a bias by the NBA towards the more popular, marketable team. The Miami Heat, with Shaquille O'Neal, Dwayne Wade, Antoine Walker, Gary Payton, etc. is a team full of outspoken superstars whose jerseys sell, sell, and sell. The NBA and ABC want this series to be drawn out as long as possible for ratings purposes. And with the crew I just mentioned, the Heat are the preferred team to win. I don't want to get too hung up on conspiracies, because that's too typical of a team that's slipping. And I won't deny the fact that Miami outplayed us in every single way during Game 4. We stunk. Game 3 was in our favor until the last 6 minutes or so. So give Miami the credit they deserve. I thought their defense was outstanding in Game 4. And Dwayne Wade has been Jordan-like since the 4th quarter of Game 3. But I do question Stackhouse's suspension. That was not a flagrant foul worth suspension. It was a hard foul in the biggest series in the NBA. The whole Finals philosophy is "No easy baskets!" This is too critical of a time to be suspending players who really don't deserve it. Stu Jackson (the guy who decided to suspend Stack) is the one who needs to be suspended...for such a potentially devastating decision. I just hope it has nothing to do with the Heat being favored by the NBA and the ABC network.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Western Conference Champs!

I didn't witness Game 6...but I'm still happy we got the win and clinched the series. This is the Mavericks first ever trip to the NBA Finals. It was well-deserved by the entire team, including Coach Johnson and his staff. This is officially the end of the bullshit talk about Nash and Finley. Both have been eliminated by the Mavericks, and with all due respect, we're a better team now. Last night, with a 39-36 rebounding edge over Phoenix, the Mavs set an NBA record having outrebounded their opponents 17 consecutive playoff games. Was it Barkley that said earlier in the season that the Mavs weren't a good rebounding team? In any case, we're now the best rebounding team in the league. If I were a Phoenix fan, I'd really be pushing to get rid of that system they've got. You can win a lot of games only focusing on offense, but eventually you're going to run into a good defensive team like Dallas that will figure out how to stop you. Great job by Howard guarding Nash and screwing up Phoenix's pick and rolls. Now we have to focus on Miami. Just 4 more wins...

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Round 3, Game 2 Adjustments

Game 1 against the Suns fell totally in favor of their style of play. The Mavs got into a running game with them and the Suns came out on top, not to mention those costly turnovers at the end of the game. Avery decided to keep the two point guard lineup but start Erick Dampier...the former decision was okay, the latter decision...BAD. Dampier could not keep up defensively against Boris Diaw, and he's just not dominant offensively, so there's no reason to have him in there. Well come to find out, Diop should have played in Game 1 instead of Dampier.
Adjustment 1: Let Diop Play. Van Horn started at center, but he was awful offensively and wasn't getting it done in other areas. So Diop came off the bench and did well. He grabbed 11 boards, 2 blocks, and clogged up the middle defensively. He played nearly the entire second half and I should note that Steve Nash took only 1 shot during that half! Diop prevented easy layups and also did a pretty good job running and getting back into transition.
Adjustment 2: Get Back In Transition. Another major adjustment was the fact that the Mavs were not overly-aggressive on the offensive boards. Normally, it's great when you can get a bunch of offensive rebounds, but when you're playing against the Suns, they've already got 2 or 3 guys running down the floor ready to get a quick and easy basket. So not having everyone going after the offensive boards allowed us to get back defensively. As a result, I didn't see too many long passes over the court, and Suns only had 21 fastbreak points...(that's low for them).
Adjustment 3: Double-Team Nash. Normally I would have trouble supporting this because you're going to leave a guy open, and the Suns have some of the best shooters in the league. But if you can get them in a half-court offense and force Nash to give up the ball, basically take him out the game, that'll really mess up their rythym. And that's what it's all about for the Suns: an up-tempo, high scoring game where they control the pace. I felt the Mavs controlled the pace of the entire game 2 even when the Suns pulled ahead. Let's see what happens in Phoenix.