Last time, I had my FanPost "Going Forward With The Mavericks" surprisingly being front-paged. I am grateful to the management who all made this possible and that is why I continued to write a more in-depth opinion on what the Mavericks should do during the offseason.
My last post was a bit broad and really lacked an deeper analysis on the needs of the team by position and the overall improvement needs by the team. And now, my post will fill the void and will give a clearer point on what I think the Mavs need to do before the upcoming season. I hope you enjoy reading this. Thanks!
As the 2012 NBA Playoffs get deeper, the Dallas Mavericks and 21 other NBA teams are officially in offseason mode. This is the time where most players in the league get the time to rest, reminisce on what has transpired during the last season they played and look at the future as free agency draws near. The offseason is also the time for players to train in order to improve their basketball skills, hone their go-to moves, add a new dimension to their game, and prep themselves for the upcoming season.
This blog will include the present condition of the Mavericks after they have finished the playoffs, the roster changes that has to be made, and the improvements they must make overall in order to compete for the 2012-2013 NBA season.
Season and Playoffs
I'll make this quick.The Mavs did not sign their title run role players in order to maintain a flexible cap space for the next season. As a result, it turned into an up-and-down season for the team. Despite the inconsistencies, the champs finished seventh in the Western Conference to make the playoffs, only to get swept by the Oklahoma City Thunder in 4 games.
First of all, I am not really a good numbers guy so I really don't know how to manipulate the Mavs' cap space since there are still the present contracts the Mavs have to adjust to in order to bid for free agency and the contracts of players in the free agent market along with the conditions of contracts during trades. What I do know is that the Mavericks have a ton of cap space, expiring contracts of the most of the players in the roster and the option for the amnesty for player Brendan Haywood. In the case all of these has been worked to in order to generate that much money, the Mavs have a very good chance of signing a superstar or two along with a fresher and a more productive line of role players.
Based on the roster last season, I think these changes are important for the Mavs so that they could maintain their competency in the following years. The free-agent pool is not very star-filled, but it contains several role players and former all-stars who can play well for the future of the Mavs. I will take my analysis and recommendations by position
1. Point Guard
There is no other name important here than Deron Williams. Interest and cap space aside, he is what the Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs need. The point guard era continues in Williams, as he has the size, speed and ability to score independently while contributing on defense and his passing ability is still invaluable. Get him to work with Dirk and we have a very powerful 1-2 combo. This is the guy that we exactly need. And if Jason Kidd returns and would embrace a backup role to D-Will, then we have the best point guard combination in the league. If option A fails, we have Steve Nash who can still perform at a high level with his efficient scoring ability to shoot while making his teammates better with his passing ability. Despite being a defensive liability, we all know that the Nashty can still do it for one last run until he stops at 40. Goran Dragic is also out there. A young player who can shoot it while also making passes well enough to make the defense work. He is young and his potential can only make him better. Mo Williams, Randy Foye, Kirk Hinrich, Andre Miller and Leandro Barbosa are just a few players who can contribute at the point in which they can score, assist and stabilize the floor completely and help maintain that winning formula for the Mavs.
The best option here for me is to sign Deron Williams and Jason Kidd. If that is possible, then we have nothing to worry about for our point guards. Other than that, I really like Dragic's name if the team would want younger legs who can run the point for many seasons. Guards Foye and Williams are both young and can provide scoring punches as alternatives for our points. For veteran moves, there is Nash who can shoot and still execute the most efficient pick-and-roll plays. Andre Miller with his crafty penetration ability, post-up size and footwork and adept defense will be valuable for this team. Kirk Hinrich can still shoot while defend well and contribute with playoff experience. And with Rodrigue Bobeauis still learning the position with inconsistency, he can learn from these guys and probably be that X-factor as his young career is far from over. He is definitely in the plans for the Mavs, and his contribution and improvement will be as important as the Mavs compete for the ring again.
The point guard position is probably the most complex and most important position in this era, so we really need that boost who can run the offense while being the primary defensive coordinator and change the course of the game. This is my recommendation, and I hope this will help the management in making their choices.
2. Shooting Guard
Vince Carter, Jason Terry, Delonte West and Dominique Jones are the 2-guards in the roster. VC's inconsistencies and lack of defense should be a sign that the Mavs should drop him. Dominique Jones is still young, and the D-League will help him more and be a factor in the near future. I think the remainder guards in Terry and West should be those important players the Mavs need to re-sign. Personally, I like D-West's game, off-court issues aside. He can play both guard positions, he defends well, he can shoot and score the ball, and he has that knack to make the right play. If I am correct, he was a very important factor for the Cavaliers at that off-guard position when LeBron James was still there. He can both be a passer or a go-to scorer, whenever you need him to be. Jason Terry is still valuable despite his age and decline in performance. He is still a capable shooter and an improbable clutch performer. His knowledge of the game and system still makes him a consistent 6th man with that scoring punch and clutch that he brings every game.
As for the other free agents who I believe can contribute, I have my eyes set on these capable players if they are available. The shooting guard crop is rich, because there are players who can contribute offensively to this team. There is the great Ray Allen who can still shoot until he can't jump. He thrives in any system and adapts well to any situation. He is a team defender, and he can still do it. There are a lot of potent scorers like OJ Mayo, Nick Young, Jamal Crawford, Shannon Brown and JR Smith. I guess that is why the position includes the word shooting for these guys. I also see an able versatile player like Tracy McGrady who can play 1-3 and is now a good team player. Landry Fields can defend well for defense, and even bringing back Deshawn Stevenson who can shoot 3s while defend the opponent's best perimeter player can turn the tides for the Mavs. The 2-guard free agent list promises a very productive outing if the Mavs make the right choices.
The 2-guard position is vital for any team most especially with the player's ability to score, space the floor and take the load of Dirk Nowitzki. Acquiring very productive players in the position will not only boost the Mavs chances of outscoring the opponent, it will also provide them another playmaker who can only help the Mavs's chances of winning.
3. Small Forward
Shawn Marion is the only player in this position who should be kept as long as he plays. He may not be a real scoring threat, but he runs the floor in transition and is an able rebounder. His all-around offensive capabilities only complement his invaluable defense versatility and a knack for making hustle plays. I love this guy when he plays other than his "quick-release" jumper. Keep him, and keep the opponent's best perimeter scorer grounded.
I generally regard Lamar Odom as a small forward because he plays with versatility and he is a very good ball handler for his size and position. But as we all know, he impact that he should've brought to the franchise has gone the other way around. His all-around skills and defensive versatility was overshadowed by his lack of commitment to the team, no urgency to win and his effort to at least play was never there. The only option is for me is to trade the guy for a more productive player and let the other team mind his problem. Dallas is not the place for Lamar Odom. Sorry.
Other than Marion, I think players like Budinger, Batum, Sam Young and Matt Barnes can fit the bill as a role player for the Mavs. They can shoot the ball while defending well on the other side of the court. Sam Young may not be a good shooter, but his physique and hard-nose defense can make him a very good defender. And the wild card here is Gerald Wallace. His play of style is like Marion's and a plus is that he handles the ball more and is a better shot blocker. Here are my choices and I hope even one of them gets signed by Dallas.
The small forward position is the most versatile position. It requires height and strength that would support the ability to rebound and defend, and guard-like abilities who can dribble, shoot and make plays for the team. This is a vital position for the team, as a very well-rounded player can impact a game behind and above the box score.
4. Power Forward
Dirk Nowtizki is still the core player of the Mavs. But with his decline in age and probably in performance, there is an unheard sense of urgency to find another younger and more athletic player who can fill in Dirk's shoes when he gets that breather. And Brandon Bass fits that bill. He was a former Mav who can do this work for Dirk. He may not be a good shooter or scorer that Dirk is, but he fills that big body who can bang in the paint, rebound, do that dirty work and inject that youthful energy as that sub for Dirk. I really like his game and I hope he brings himself back to Dallas.
Other than Bass, sign back Brian Cardinal. He is a good shooter who can fill in for the 3 and 4 position and promotes great chemistry in the locker room. Other free agents that I would like the Mavs to look at are Carl Landry, JJ Hickson, Reggie Evans, Kenyon Martin, Jordan Hill, Chris Wilcox and Kevin Garnett. Carl Landry may be undersized for the position, but he plays exceptionally well and rebounds more than the other guys taller than him. He also portrays a well-rounded game which the Mavs can benefit from. JJ Hickson is also a guy who can bang in the paint, grab some boards and put his body on the opponent. His height helps him a lot and he can inject energy into the team. As for Reggie Evans, we all know what he has done for the Clips. He rebounds and defends well because he has the body to do so. He can also do those dirty jobs for any team. K-Mart also does the same and add another useful jumper who can stretch the defense. Age and injuries come into question when looking at him, but don't forget this former 1st pick can still get it done in the paint. Last but not the least, there is Kevin Garnett. In all possibilities that the Mavs sign him, we all know what we get. Another Hall-of-Fame champion who can play the 3-5 positions, Garnett can fill the void by the loss of Tyson Chandler. Garnett plays mean and tough defense with his long arms and high basketball IQ, and makes defenses pay with his old reliable mid-range jumper. His variety of post moves and athleticism can put defenders on hold and his passing ability for a big man is incomparable. If the Mavs get this guy, we're in for a frontcourt treat.
Still, Dirk Nowtizki is outright the Mavs best player. And it is only beneficial that we find someone who can address the needs to give the guy a break while still giving the Mavs that productivity on the boards and in the paint. A player with great size, rebounding ability and adept defensive skill set for that power forward will only help not Dirk but the whole Mavericks team.
Brendan Haywood is the starting center for the Mavs and as we all know, he is the top candidate for that amnesty in order to free up that cap space. Haywood is that typical center who has that height, rebounding and blocking ability of his own. To me, he is a good fit as a center for any team and I like his game. But it is really sad to say that he did not perform consistently and lacked that factor that Tyson Chandler brought to their title team the ring. It really is too bad to see him go because of his strengths, but it is clear that we need a better performer than Haywood. A consistent rebounder with average shot-blocking skills can do for us. Ian Mahinni is a young player and is raw, but still needs that consistency and more strength in order to bang in the paint. I'd say give this guy a chance because he has shown flashes of being a force in the paint.
As for the center free-agent class players like Kris Humpries, Chris Kaman, Spencer Hawes, Kwame Brown, Marcus Camby, Greg Oden and Javale McGee can be looked at. Humpries I think has averaged a double-double for the Nets and I like his game. As a former Mav, Kris may not have that bulky body to bang in the paint, but his height, young energy and positioning for the boards is a great plus for the Mavs. If he add that shot-blocking ability, he will be very useful if he comes back to Dallas. Chris Kaman is a player I also like. He is a vet, can score and can rebound well. The most I like about his are his post moves and his efficient mid-range jumper. He positions well himself in the paint and can make the defense work. If he can also block shot, then he is a plus for this team. Spencer Hawes is also like Kaman, but he is younger and has much more energy and is a great rebounder for any team. Kwame Brown is still a bust, but he can still bring that bang in the paint with rebounding and a little bit of defense. If he puts himself together well, then the Mavs get a bargain. Marcus Camby is old, but his rebounding and shot-blocking isn't. He can still contribute, but I don't think he has still some left in the tank. Javale McGee is still a work in progress, but his work and potential in the playoffs cannot be understated. His potential is unlimited and with a defensive priority in Dallas, he can make a name for himself. His length is great, his hops are unmatched, but his work ethic needs a little more work. He's a little off on the court with his decision-making skills and off-court issues but they can be resolved. If he can improve himself on and off the court with an improved offensive motor skills and improved an already impressive rebounding and blocking skills, McGee can be a force in the paint. Last but not the least, Greg Oden is a risk with a very dim outcome. He failed to live the hype with injuries derailing his career, but if healthy, he is that true center who can be another Shaq in the paint. His strengths are on D, which rebound with his size and power and block shots with his lift and height. His bulk and strength can bring him closer to the paint, with post moves and power making him make easy dunks and layups. It is a hard bet to put money on, but I hope Oden returns to the court health and spark his career back in the NBA.
In a league lacking full of true centers, the NBA has resorted to players who improvise themselves with post moves or mid-range jumpers to fill their lack of need of offensive strengths. But the true strength of the center, whether true or not is his ability to rebound the ball, block shots and change the pace of the game on the defensive end. This crop is filled with capable players if signed and plays well, we certainly have a chance of contending again.
6. Players Under Contract
Rodrigue Beaubious, Shawn Marion, Kelenna Azubuike, Brandan Wright and Dirk Nowtizki are the players still under contract for the Mavericks. Roddy is still a work in progress, but he's shown flashes of a great scoring point guard who can distribute the ball adequately and use his speed and quickness to get something done. The problem with him is turnovers and inconsistency that might doom him with his minutes. I like his potential, but I expect more production from him. If he can produce numbers scoring-wise and execute well, he could be that consistent rotation player and a key piece of the Mavs' future. Shawn Marion is seen as a key trade asset and bait for other rotation players but I'd say keep him. Even beyond his days in Phoenix, Miami, Toronto and even in Dallas, the Matrix is still the best perimeter defender and all-around player for the Mavs. He can still crash the boards, block shots, score off transition, pass to the open man, play lockdown D and most of all, make the right play. He defends very well against any position and hustles well. His athleticism and witty play cannot be found in many players despite his aging decline. This guy is a keeper for more seasons in the NBA. Kelenna Azubuike can play both positions and score the ball. But his decline in performance and injuries made him a reserve in Dallas. If he can play well, he'll get the minutes. Brandan Wright on the other hand, is an improbable X-factor for the Mavs in the upcoming season. He can play the 4 and 5, and he has that knack for rebounds and scoring in the paint with layups and dunks. His tall frame and long arms can help intimidate offenses and his high jumping ability is so appreciated that he became a valuable rotation for the Mavs. If the guy can rebound well using his height and hops, score on every opportunity dished out to him, block shots and avoid foul trouble, he is a very interesting and fun rotation player the Mavericks can use. And last of all, there is the greatest Maverick ever, Dirk Nowitzki. The elite scorer who shoots like Ray Allen on wide open shots, makes fadeaways like Kobe does, and even shoots his own patented one-legged fadeaway using the bank. He by position rebounds well, able to pass from the perimeter or from the post while being double-teamed, and defends well by positioning and using his defensive smarts in order to best his opponent. His greatness now personified by a championship season and Finals MVP award, there is nothing more we want from this guy buy just continue playing and set milestones for his personal history and record. And for all great players who are being getting caught by Father Time, the only way to improve themselves is stay healthy on the floor. Dirk has missed games this season, and needed 4 games in order to get conditioned. This is not to blame Dirk, because this is what happens naturally for all the great ones. Stay healthy, and Dirk can play until 40. Count on that.
Coaching and Management
Marc Cuban and Donnie Nelson are consistent people who do their jobs exceptionally well. They sign players of great value who contributes greatly to the season successes of the Mavericks 10 years running. They made some mistakes over the years of signing big contracts to players, but they have been so good to commit these few mistakes that they have assembled rosters who win on a consistent basis. So if you are a critic of these guys not signing much of the contributors of the title team, then stop being one now. These people are looking at the future with the present still being successful for the franchise. We know they have a vision of keeping the franchise competent at all times so we all have to do is believe in them and support the franchise through the fan base like this great site.
Head Coach Rick Carlisle is back for another four years so let us be thankful for him and the management agreeing on good terms. We all know what this guy can do. Give him a set of players, and he will maximize the offensive capabilities of his players. And when on defense, he emphasizes team play on D and we end up with a board or a steal. The guy is a champion as a player and coach and I believe no one does this job better than our coach Rick Carlisle. Cheers to you!
Conclusion and Final Words
Despite the early exit in the postseason this year, every season of the Mavs has always been a success for me. The Mavs always continue to play winning ball, giving back to the fans and community and gives back to the NBA. They are an example of excellence and competitiveness and have shown the dedication and hard work that has brought them the championship in 2011.
To keep that competitive spirit in the following years and to build a new foundation following Dirk Nowtizki's legacy, the Mavs have delivered themselves in a position where they can rebuild in some way, injecting a new foundation of youth, leadership and determination the team needs in order to compete for the next decade and so on. They cap space they Mavs have acquired this season is vital, giving them the chance of signing free agents who can be the future of the franchise. The team also that valuable trade assets which can be used in order to acquire players of star value. I agree to this move, not only because it makes sense but it also paves the way for the bright future and straight direction that the Mavericks are driving through as the next generation of stars are making their way in the league. If the Mavs are able to complete a roster full of competent and driven players willed by a core of unselfish stars, the Mavs will be on track for years to come.
I believe in the Mavericks, and so should you. Our time again is now.