|You won't ever see these guys playing together again|
The prevailing opinion from the sports "experts" around here is the reason the Mavericks went from champs to chumps in one year is because owner Mark Cuban refused to do what it took to keep Tyson Chandler and J.J.Barea on the team. This myth has been repeated so often, the average Maverick fan is beginning to buy into it and even repeat it. So once again, I guess, it’s up to yours truly to set the record straight.
Sure, Chandler was named Defensive Player of the Year, but look where his current employers, the New York Knicks, wound up. They barely made the playoffs in the weaker Eastern Division, which used to contain only two good teams, but now (because of Derrick Rose’s season-ending injury) only has one. And that one team is flat out embarrassing the Knicks in the first round of the playoffs. The Thunder beat the Mavericks four games to nil, but it only embarrassed Dallas in Game 3. The Mavs played competitively for three quarters in the other three and had their biggest lead of the series, 13 points, going into the fourth quarter of this final game. Chandler and the Knicks, however, are offering no opposition to the Heat.
Look, when all is said and done, basketball is really a very simple game. It comes down to one thing and one thing only: How effectively can you put the biscuit in the basket. Last year the Mavs were good enough shooting the ball in the regular season to finish fourth in the Western Conference and became phenomenal in the playoffs, which is the reason they won the title. Look at the numbers: Last season the Mavs converted 46.1 percent of their field goal attempts during the playoffs. This season that number plummeted to 39.9 percent. Only four of the 16 teams in the playoffs have a lower percentage. Even more important, last season the Mavs hit on 39.4 percent of their three-point attempts and averaged 8.8 three-pointers per playoff game, the highest number in the history of the NBA. This season during the playoffs, they only made 32.8 percent of their shots from behind the arc.
Why the drop? The Mavericks have never had a good transition offense. And their half court offense, for the most part, consists of a couple passes before someone tries a comparatively long-range jump shot. Even when the Mavs do break free in transition, the lead player won’t drive to the basket; more often than not he’ll pull up just short of the three-point line and hoist one. To be an effective jump shooter night after night after night after night, you need strong, healthy legs to give you the required lift. The Mavs have too many old, tired legs, which is the reason they faded in the second half of the season and were outplayed in fourth quarter of every game in the Oklahoma City series. Kidd is 39, for crying out loud. Both Vince Carter and Brian Cardinal are 35 years old and Jason Terry is 34. Even Dirk and Shawn Marion are 33 and it’s questionable how many good years each of them have left.
The word is Cuban is going "all-in" during the upcoming free agency period to bring the 27-year-old Deron Williams back to Dallas, where he played his high school ball.Williams would be a major upgrade over Kidd at the point. Williams shot 40.7 percent from the field this season compared to 36.3 for Kidd. Kidd has the reputation of being the "assist master," but Williams averaged 8.7 assists per game this season compared to Kidd’s 5.5. I would also like for Cuban to see if he could make a deal with unrestricted free agent Landry Fields, a two-guard with the New York Knicks who is only 23 and had a field goal percentage this past season of 46 percent. This kid could really blossom playing alongside Dirk and Deron. And finally, if there’s any money left, I would like for Cuban to try to sign 7-1 Philadelphia unrestricted free agent center Spencer Hawes, who is just 24. Those moves give the Mavs the much-needed youth they need to improve on that one thing and one thing only.
Then there’s the draft. At the very worst, the Mavs should draft no later than 18th this year, unless they choose to give up this year’s first round pick to Houston, which the the Rockets received from the Mavericks as part of the convoluted Lamar Odom deal. As long as that pick is in the Top 20, however, the Mavs could elect to keep it and then give the Rockets a first-rounder anytime between the 2013 draft and the one in 2017. At 18, there’s an excellent chance that Baylor strong forward Quincy Miller, Kentucky point guard Marquis Teague or even Duke shooting guard Austin Rivers (Doc’s son) would be available. In the second round, I’m betting Xavier point guard Tu Holloway would be on the board.
These additions make the Mavs a power in the West once again; in fact, I’m betting this would make them a better team than they were last year.