This was the question tossed out by Jonathan Tjarks in an email to the staff of MavsMoneyball after the Sunday night debacle against the Thunder, when Dallas wouldn't or couldn't get the ball to Dirk Nowitzki. Who has it worse than Dallas? How do they fix it? Can they?
Josh Bowe: Chicago (although that's a cheap response, not their fault), Milwaukee? Brandon Jennings isn't even playing in crunch time anymore. Kyle Lowry hasn't been the same in Toronto...that's about it. And I still think Dallas is behind all of them.
The four worst teams in the NBA (New Orleans, Charlotte, Orlando and Phoenix) all have better point guard situations than the Mavericks and that's pretty damn depressing. Unless you don't like Kemba Walker.
Andy Tobolowsky: In many ways, the only thing surprising about the Mavericks point guard situation is that it's not significantly worse. Their only point guards of note, at this point, are a guy whose last meaningful minutes were in 2007 and a guy who the Pacers valued so highly they thought they had to throw in Dahntay Jones with him to get Ian Mahinmi, third-string center extraordinaire (I know, I know, salary matching, shut up). The fact that the position is only figuratively a wasteland is almost an achievement.
That being said, some of the onus for what's going on has to fall on Rick Carlisle. Without Kidd, Carlisle obviously trust his point guards so little that he's constructed the biggest possible fences against their success. That Mike James is starting is a travesty. You can make the argument that at times James is no more crappy than Darren Collison, but Collison is approximately 40 years younger than James and a has a future and it's almost sociopathic to ignore that. The greater side effect of this stuff, though, is that Carlisle has apparently constructed an offensive system so rigid, so as to reduce the choices his point guards have to make, that they only get to look for Dirk if he's in the right place at the right time which, on this team, is insane.
Lead guard has to be on the Maverick shopping list this season. Collison, who I believe is an restricted free agent, would make a perfectly serviceable backup point or even a second guard as they sometimes do with James. But the Mavs have to get somebody they trust to QB if only so that Rick Carlisle might feel comfortable telling somebody to look for Dirk.
Kirk Henderson: I can't think of a better team with a worse situation at point guard. It's frustrating because it's the kind of thing we all saw in the pre-season but couldn't do anything about. We all wanted to believe that things could get better, mainly because Rick Carlisle is a hell of a basketball coach.
I disagree with Andy, to a point, about how Carlisle has handled the whole situation with the point guards. One would reasonably assume that a young player, particularly Collison and to a lesser extent, Rodrigue Beaubois, would get better as they played more games and learned under the tutelage of Carlisle. O.J. Mayo, who has developed some this season, came to Dallas for that very reason. But Collison is literally no better than he was to start the season. He still disappears after contact. He still can't see the big white guy at the three point line regularly. His passes are often wildly off target. I rip on Mike James a lot, but we can't really blame him for Carlisle electing to go with him more often recently. Collison is woefully inconsistent. Just check out his game log.
I have no idea what Dallas can do. Any point guard I'd like to see Dallas take will probably be gone by 13-16, which is where Dallas is most likely to draft, and fans reasonably don't want to wait for a guy to develop. I also don't like any of the free agents, though there's a strong argument to be made for Brandon Jennings. An athletic lead guard who can defend and pass the ball is a prerequisite for competing in today's NBA. We might be in for a frustrating couple of years.
Jonathan Tjarks: As Kirk was saying, if you go over the depth charts around the NBA, one thing that stands out is how deep the PG position is in terms of young and talented players. That doesn't necessarily have to be depressing for Mavs fans, because it indicates that promising young PG's come into the league all the time. Check out the last four years: 2009 (Rubio, Lawson, Holiday, Curry, Teague), 2010 (Wall, Bledsoe) and 2011 (Irving, Knight, Kemba Walker, Reggie Jackson). 2012 has already produced ROY Damian Lillard.
This year, there are two PG's in the late-lottery range: Trey Burke of Michigan and Michael Carter-Williams of Syracuse. Neither is a perfect prospect, but then again, neither was Lillard or really anyone on that list outside of Kyrie. Burke is a little small (6'0 175) and Carter-Williams can't shoot, but I think both could step in tomorrow on this Mavs roster and dramatically upgrade this team's present and future. They've both got NBA-caliber athleticism and a great feel for the game. Those are the two guys the Mavs should be watching very closely in the Tournament.
What do you think? Who has it worse in the point guard department than the Mavericks? What can they do to improve? Any and all suggestions welcome.