Hello MavsMoneyball-ers. This post is a 2 topic post. After watching a lot of basketball in these opening weeks, as well as closely observing this sport for years, I think it is time for my premature post about how I think one of our players matches up against the league.
In part 1, I will talk about intimidation, and our piece of that pie, and in part 2, I will dive into what seems to be a burning question around the league, if a team's PG is enough to win.
Toughness. Grit. Determination.
These are words that are attributed to basketball from pee-wee leagues to the NBA. However, words like "Intimidation" or "Fear" are often forgotten when one makes the jump from College to the NBA. Players in the league are grown men, sure. But fear does play a factor in basketball. See: Our 2009 Playoff run in against the Nuggets.
In that series, we were scared. The Nuggets ran on us, dunked on us, shot over us, and intimidated us. For a long time now, we have been a team with a lot of talent, but teams do not fear us. Think of us like a poor man's LA Lakers. We have talent, we have skill, we have it all. But what we don't have is a scary player to intimidate others. What did LA do? They went out to get Bad-boy Ron Artest. Whether or not you think he mattered, the proof is in the end result. They beat the Team they had lost to last time they faced them Artest-less.
This is something that needs to be brought up more. It is something we lack. It is something we need. Without it, we will never win. Look at the Celtics. From Kevin Garnett's floor pounding, to Paul Pierce's fire determination, to Ray Allen's Swagger, this team is intimidating. This might not show on a nightly basis. Players will have nights where they're relaxed. The time to watch for this are important clutch games, nationally televised games, and playoff games. This is when it shows. Deny it, overlook it, do with it what you will, but no matter what one chooses to believe, it can be seen that intimidation takes effect in this sport. Until our Mavs get a fearful guy(I hope Chandler fills this role, which he partially does...) we will not win. We need a strong, swagger-carrying player to intimidate teams, and most importantly, keep them out of the paint. Players like Nowtizki, Kobe, LeBron, etc. don't play scared. They go all out. Don't mind them. Look at the role players of a team, and notice the impact that going against an intimidating player has on them. They hesitate, second guess themselves, and avoid driving and shoot jump-shots. To sum it up, they play scared.
Look around the NBA. Almost every team has an All-Star caliber player. The NBA is a fun league to watch now-a-days. With all of your Kobe's, LeBron's and Wade's in the league, it comes to mind who really dominates the NBA. It is easy to fall for the trap that is believing high-fliers are the heart of the league. Look around to past winners, and all teams with past success, and you might begin to see that the NBA is a PG's league. To quote an announcer on a recent ESPN broadcast of an NBA game it is a "Golden Era" for those who love watching point guards play.
Lets look at recent teams to make the Finals. The Celtics have Rajon Rondo, whom without they might not make the playoffs, and the Lakers have Derek Fisher, possibly the most underrated PG in the NBA. People forget what Fisher brings to LA, and Kobe and Phil never forget to cite his contribution in post game interviews and press conferences. Still, Fisher is not recognized because he is in fact not a great PG. What he is a great fit for his team- isn't that all that matters?
Almost every decent team has a solid PG. Just to list a few above average ones(saving the best for last), Jameer Nelson, Brandon Jennings, Tony Parker, Raymond Felton, John Wall, Russell Westbrook, Chauncey Billups and Stephen Curry. These are all PG's that, while not great, can score 25 on any given night, and take over a game. Great players. To mention a few more, Steve Nash is still a phenomenal guard, but not a huge threat as the Suns seem like a lost cause. The Bulls have Derrick Rose, a premier guard who has shown time and again his value(remember him in the Playoffs against the Celtics?) to his team, and how much of a threat he is. If ever healthy, Chris Paul is possibly the best point guard in the league, and right now is playing superb basketball with his now 7-0 Hornters. Across the conference he also has Deron Williams, another 5 star PG. Williams can shoot, drive, defend, pass, walk your dog and paint your back porch. These 2 guys are 2 of the 3 best Point Guards. Possibly the best guard in the league today however, lies with a team we recently defeated. Rondo is playing like a man possessed, and continues to show that with him, you cannot count the Celtics out. He is setting assist records left and right, and also plays great defense. He is a key facilitator for Boston, and keeps the pace at one that team flourishes with.
It is easy to see that the NBA is becoming, or maybe has become, a point guard's league. Who do we have? Oh, just a guy who just recorded his 11,000th assist. Jason Kidd is without a doubt a great player, and a Hall of Famer. But what does this mean to us? Jason Kidd is not the Kidd of old. He is slower, has lost a step, and gets blown by by smaller, quicker guards. Anyone can list countless issues that Kidd presents, but regardless, he is what we have. Sure, replacing Kidd with a quick guard will make us a better team. Other guards will score less on us, and he could use another team's fast tempo against them. There is no doubt that there are areas that Kidd holds us back. But similar to the Derek Fisher theory, he is what we need. Derek Fisher barely cracks the top 20 as far as best PG's go. Team contribution however, Fisher is in the top 10, just like Kidd is.
We can replace Kidd with a better PG, and we probably should. Don't count out his importance to us. While many teams seem to have much better guards, Kidd still makes us a better team. Unless another PG goes Tony Parker on us in the playoffs, Kidd will not be the reason we lose. He's not who he used to be, and probably won't win us games, but he won't lose them either. Can we survive with Kidd? Is he a Kidd in a Man's league? I guess we'll have to find out.