Tomorrow, the Mavericks will play the first preseason game of the year, and although the starters probably won't play more than a quarter, basketball season is starting to make me excited. We're tantalizingly close to it getting underway for the 2013-14 season, and that's a reason to celebrate.
Here at Mavs Moneyball, we're celebrating with our annual player previews, breaking down each and every player on the Dallas roster. Check out the previews, linked above, and then go read some more fun stuff our staff came up with for each player.
If you're like me, you've probably read a million words on Dirk and how great he is, in all sorts of different ways. The great Alan Smithee contributes another 1642 words to the cause in a fantastic breakdown of Dirk the player.
But after reading that preview, are you ready for a bit of a change of pace? Have you read haikus about Dirk? Didn't think so.
He's from Germany
A seven foot tall giant
He is basketball
From Deutschland cometh
Draining Teutonic buckets
Has nothing on the one who
Can get shots from space
Big German, swish, wow that beard
Way better than mine
Locker room, quiet
Waiting for him to appear
His era's not done
Forever hitting that fade
Dirk's star yet shines bright
Chime in with your own Dirk haikus in the comments!
For Vince Carter, it's all about balancing his reputation when he joined the Mavericks to his production since he's been part of the team. What we all can agree on is that he has played his ass off. As our own Rebecca Lawson points out, even Earl Sweatshirt is taking his hat off to the way Vince has played.
small roundtable we put together.
1) How did you feelings change about Vince Carter from his first year with the Mavericks to his second?
Lisa: I think I was one of the few who was excited about him from the get-go. Maybe it's because I know the least about basketball of any of us, but I was just happy to have a veteran with a past like his who still has a lot to offer.
Kirk: I went into last season with Vince Carter as my number one most infuriating Maverick. His first season, he continued his career trend of taking tough, contested fade away shots. Carlisle insisted on posting Carter up, and while he had the skill set for this to work, the Mavs went to the well far too often. This last season, Carter took far more three point shots, and hit a career high percentage (40%) while having to handle the ball and play the role of distributor off the bench. He excelled and kept Dallas in a number of games they otherwise would have lost.
Tim: I didn't have much of an opinion of Carter after his first season, but I really enjoyed his second year (except for the final two minutes where he would take shots instead of Dirk). You can tell that the inconsistent effort that plagued his career early is far gone, as Mark Cuban talked about last season.
Andy: When we first got Vince, I wrote this column, cause everybody was treating Odom as this amazing pickup and Vince as like some 10th man and while I agreed, at the time, that Odom was the superior player, it was still true for Vince that there'd only ever been one season in which he was outscored by Lamar and I figured we could probably use that. That turned out to be true! As he played, however, I really turned against him because of the high usage guys the Mavericks had, he took by far the worst shots. But, as the team struggled and I saw how much effort he was putting in each night--who would have thought Vince Carter would be one of the Mavericks' top three man defenders?--I swung back the other way. Love you, Vince.
Alan: My formative years came very much in Carter's hey-day, and like many kids I was a big fan, but I admit I was somewhat ambivalent, when he first arrived, at the idea of a 35-year old Carter taking shots away from other guys. That being said, Carter's enthusiasm was hard to not find endearing. For an older dude with a reputation for sometimes not playing his hardest(at least, I'd imagine that's what Toronto fans would say), his effort level was a very pleasant surprise. There were many stretches, in fact, when Carter looked like one of the only guys who really cared. Going into his second year as a Mav, I was half-expecting Carter to fall off a cliff, especially given how he'd tailed off in the second half of '11-'12, but once again Carter surprised me by playing his best ball in years, and skipping the second half decline altogether. I think you can put this as a notch in the belt of the Dallas training staff, but Carter has earned the right to play out his string here, even if he takes the occasional terrible shot.
Doyle: I was certainly not thrilled when the Mavs brought in Carter. His numbers in Phoenix were, well, bad. It looked as though this was a player either on the cusp of retirement or one that lost interest in the game altogether. His first year in Dallas wasn't much better statistically. However, he just seemed to fill an intangible role on the team. This certainly showed last season where he was one of the few players who would take the court and put forth effort on both ends. He became a better distributor and worked well within the flow of the offense. The one thing I don't understand is how he took and made so many deep shots and I don't just mean threes.
Josh: I was thrilled about Carter's arrival, from a purely selfish standpoint of seeing a childhood basketball hero with the Mavericks. In terms of basketball fit, I was excited too. The Mavericks needed cheap wing scoring and Carter potentially fit the bill, if he was used properly. It took a few months, but once Rick Carlisle settled into Carter coming off the bench, he flourished. It was also welcoming to see that defense and effort were never a problem along with the surprise of Carter's more-than-decent rebounding. I wrote a few times in Carter's first season why he should finish some games over Marion, depending on if the Mavericks need his shooting. Once he started playing more time at the 3, Carter was great.
2) What role do you expect Carter to play headed into next season?
Lisa: When a team is almost entirely made up of new dudes, somebody who has his experience and locker room influence will likely continue to hold a leadership role. Folks within the organization have raved about how much of a team guy he is. Hopefully he'll do a better job than he did last season with Jae Crowder...
Kirk: With more ball handlers, I expect him to continue his role of spot up shooter. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if he managed to raise his three point shooting a bit. Carter's 36 going on 37, at this point whatever he gives Dallas is a bonus. He's actually managed to play great defense while in Dallas and has become a much better rebounder than he was in his younger days. I'm just glad he's around.
Tim: Carter's shooting and stretching the floor will continue to be a vital part of the Mavericks offense, forcing Marion more and more to the power forward. I'd love to see Carter paired with Wayne Ellington on the floor -- I feel like that combo of wing shooting and defense could be a devastating line-up once you add Calderon/Dirk/Dalembert.
Andy: Well, Carlisle is a terrific coach but he has this habit when things aren't going well of outsmarting himself. The small lineup he went to at the end of a bunch of close games every year, and lost every one, is a big time example of that. He knew it was supposed to work so he didn't accept that it didn't. The same thing happened with Vince taking the last second shot. He knew Dirk wasn't quite right, and Vince, and blah, blah, but it was an awful idea. I don't think they'll play that game this year, and I expect Vince to be a second-team enforcer as well as probably a member of the end-game rotation. Rick hasn't been shy about sitting Marion in those situations, and I can also see Monta taking point and Vince the 2, or Dirk taking the 5, Marion the 4 and Vince the 3.
Alan: Most likely the same role he's played the last two years, sixth man and second unit gunner. Carlisle trusts him, I believe, and will be slow to phase Carter out of the lineup even if he plays poorly. On paper, it would appear Dallas has a little more firepower this time around, with Monta in the fold, so there may be a few less shots for Vince, but Carter's defense and passing ability have long been underrated aspects of his game, so I think he'll be able to contribute even if he's not launching quite as much.
Doyle: Carter will remain a bench guy. He will likely be the seventh man in the rotation. But, as this is Carlisle, Carter will fill in wherever he is needed. It will be interesting to see if Carter will continue his hot shooting from outside or if last season was simply a stroke of brilliant shooting luck. What is certainly nice to see is his ability to accept and embrace his bench role. Many former stars have trouble adapting. Occasionally, he shows flashes of his former self and we can certainly expect a handful of Vinsanity moments out of him this season.
Josh: More of the same from last season, please. Carter will probably never appease the haters when he takes some questionable long jumpers, but he has such a valuable role. In fact, last season, Carter's numbers across the board were dramatically better than Jason Terry's 2010-2011 season. It's hard to imagine the Mavericks not only replaced Terry's production so quickly, but actually improved on it some bit with Carter being a more helpful rebounder and defender. Carter might not have to be a playermaker as much this season with the improvement of guards on the roster, so that should hopefully help his efficiency even more.
Made it this far? Just skipped to the bottom? Mr. Hal Brown talked about Shawn Marion and questions whether he is declining quicker than we think. Let's end this with a poll: how many more quality years does Marion have left in his career?