Well, I'm sure we all agreed that the first half was more like a violent tumble through a mountain range than a gentle ride on water tubes, but it was fun, I'll give it that. Here comes the second half, though, which is hard to imagine easing up any. As we brace ourselves for impact, here's the second part to Mavs Moneyball's Mid Season Report, focusing on the next 41 games. Here's the first half on the off chance you missed it.
Reminder: all these answers were provided last weekend, so if they seem a little bit outdated, deal with it. Also, I have to say this: our writers are fantastic. For at least four of the questions provided in these two reports I regretted my rule to put only three answers each because I loved what everyone had sent in. Shameless plug over, here we go.
What (or who) are you most excited to watch for headed forwards?
Lisa Rotter: Uh, duh. I wanna Free Roddy B! The kid showed such flashes of brilliance in the few minutes we got to watch him play last year that it's hard not to be excited for his return. Rodrigue Beaubois is a beautiful basketball player and an eager pupil, so I can only hope the time he's spent on the sidelines has been educational and beneficial to his future with the team. I do have some apprehension regarding the amount of impact he'll have right off the bat, and we've put so much pressure on him to be the savior of the team that it's possible he might be a bit of a disappointment to start. But he's got such an upside that I can see him being an impact player as long as he's allowed the chance to prove himself. *cough*Rick*cough*
Bryan Gutierrez: I am highly intrigued to see what the Mavericks do at the trade deadline so I think that is the thing I am most excited to watch going forward. Most franchises SAY they'll do what it takes to win but few rarely back up the talk, Mark Cuban talks the talk and walks the walk. I broke down a lot of the potential options and that just goes to show that anything could happen between now and the deadline in February, there are just so many different options. We have the feeling Roddy Beaubois will be back soon and that will be great and exciting, but a trade is going to be necessary to get this team back on the short list for title contenders.
Tim Cato: Rick Carlisle's hair grow back? OK, OK, there's a ton of things I am interested in seeing moving forwards, but number one has to be whether this really is a good defensive team or not. They excelled defensively early in the year, but lately have been very subpar. Now obviously, there are excuses: Dirk and Caron got injured, Chandler's been battling the flu, and the offense has not been clicking, which can effect defensive effort. However, last year had a very similar rise and fall for the defense, with a strong start morphing back to normality later in the year. I'd like to think that with Chandler, Marion, Stevenson, even Haywood providing tough defensive effort, that this team is different that the 2009-2010 version (with freaking Quinton Ross and Drew Gooden), but its impossible to tell at this point.
What is the biggest strength of the Mavericks headed forwards?
Winning Road Games. The ability to win close games. Old vets get it done by making wide open games artificially close so that they can spend energy grinding out 4th quarter victories over the Timberwolves or Warriors of this league.
BG: Dirk Nowitzki, plain and simple. Any time that #41 suits up to play, the Mavericks always have a chance. The Mavericks also have the element of surprise on their side. Roddy Beaubois is an intriguing player and no one really knows how to play against him, the Mavericks don't even truly know how to use him yet. One thing is for sure, the Spurs didn't have an answer for him in the playoffs. If that's the case, there is a late-arriving Robin coming to run alongside Batman.
LJ: Don't hate me for saying it, but I think their chemistry is what will keep them among the elite teams this season. They have been suffering mightily in the absence of their superstar, but not once has anyone pointed a finger at anyone but themselves. These guys believe in each other and have said so many times. They trust one another to make big plays and they all feel that they are important to the success of the organization. When you play as a team, you win as a team. And I think, judging from the locker room atmosphere and general appearance of the team, these guys have the heart to play together until the very end.
What is the biggest weakness of the Mavericks headed forwards?
Home Court Disadvantage. They have only 2 players that can create any shot they want at any time. Both are coming back from injuries. You take those two guys away, the Mavs can not beat anybody in the Playoffs because their poor Offense has devastating Effects on their Defense. It should not be that way, but it's an infectious thing from the French. Or so I heard.
Tom Kanti: Their depth. The Mavs only lost 6 games with all their starters in the game, but after their main players, Dirk and Butler, went down with injury, the Mavs lost numerous games..
Tcat: Their main weakness is that they are still inconsistent. How does the exact same team get destroyed by Detroit and then destroy the Lakers just days apart, especially seeing how Dirk lit it up against the Pistons and barely made an impact against LA? But hey, a team takes on the personality of its players (which if you think about it, is quite obvious). Terry and Kidd have both proven to be inconsistent shooters, and the bench has been on and off in terms of providing positive impacts. More consistency will be crucial to eventual postseason success, whether it comes from new additions or just improved play.
How do you see the Mavericks’ season ending?
LJ: The team has shown moments of absolute promise, followed by stretches of dismal disappointment. If Dirk comes back into the lineup and the team starts winning again, and if we can find a clot to stop the bleeding from Caron Butler's absence, we have the opportunity to steadily trudge into the post-season. It will take either the return and emergence of Rodrigue Beaubois as the star we all want him to be or some kind of expensive trade to give the Mavericks that extra boost they need to make a run through the playoffs and into the finals. At the beginning of the season, I would have put us in that position confidently. Now, I can only cross my fingers and hope.
Tom: I see the season ending at 52-30 with a 2nd round exit barring any trades done between now and the trade deadline.
BG: I would go with the Magic 8-Ball route: ask me later. There are too many variables involved within the Mavericks to ultimately project where the season will end for the Mavericks. Roddy's health, trades, injuries around the league, etc. I do feel confident in saying that their season will end in the playoffs, I just don't know if it's early or late.