Just the other day, it seems like, the Mavericks were suiting up against Charlotte in the season opener, staring at the eighty-two games that awaited them. And now there's just one. Just one, and the postseason starts again. Whether or not that's a good thing...I guess that will be determined in the coming weeks. Right now, though, we're going to take a look back at the last five months or so, in Mavs Moneyball's 2010-11 End of the Year Report. Just like the mid season report, this will feature four questions with answers from Mavs Moneyball's fantastic authors. Stay tuned for Part 2 later this week, and enjoy!
1. What was the biggest surprise of the year?
DOH: Ok, so the biggest surprise was Chandler's performance* and impact on the team. Granted, he was suffering the effects of his ankle injury in Charlotte and didn't play many minutes at the FIBA World Championship, at least not without fouling like a Frenchman, so he didn't appear to be a game changer. Turns out he was, the first half of the season anyway. It's incredible what you can achieve if you start talking on Defense. Who knew?
*And by performance, I mean at the free throw line. Teamleading 90.9% after 10 games? Brian Cardinal is impressed.
Travis: Tyson Chandler. I was very underwhelmed with the acquisition, having thought we could get much more with Dampier's contract + appropriate other pieces. But Ty has been terrific for the majority of the season. I'm glad to be wrong on this one.
J0shi: An obvious answer is Tyson Chandler, but I'll go with Threevenson. The way he helped the team early in the season is way underappreciated in my eyes due to the injury of Caron.
2. What was the biggest disappointment of the year?
LJ: Buhhhh where to begin? The easiest answer is Brendan Haywood, the next easiest answer is Rodrigue Beaubois, but I'm going to go with a different angle on this one, and say that the biggest disappointment was our inability to maintain our defensive prowess as the season came to a close. Up until, oh, the loss of Caron Butler and Dirk Nowitzki at the same damn time, we were looking stronger on defense than I'd ever seen this team look. But as the season wore on and we lost players to injuries every so often, the Mavericks slipped right back into the run and gun, jump-shooting team we've come to know and hate. I think the best basketball Dallas played was when they were able to get BIG defensive stops and then make fast break plays on the other end. Without those stops, the offense became stagnant.
DOH: Although Beaubois' struggles might come a close second, with the 'Work-here'-dude a solid third, the major trouble brews from the similarity to last season. Starting out strong, with Defense, then slipping around Christmas, cue Dirk Injury (Landry fake Teeth vs sprained Knee), major slumpage, a little streaking around the trade deadline [Wins without really playing D], then more slumping and so-so play until the playoffs start. Up and down they go, tally-ho!
Travis: Tie between Roddy Beaubois and Brendan Haywood. Roddy has been the victim of unfortunate circumstance with his foot injury, but he hasn't shown much of anything since he's been back. I'm sure he's still feeling the lingering effects of months off from work, but at this point he's not giving the Mavs much of anything. And this was a guy who was supposed to be the dynamic offensive backcourt threat the Mavs have lacked for years. As for Haywood, he's had his moments, but he's probably one of the 7 or 8 most talented centers in the league, and he doesn't play anywhere near that. The free-throw thing absolutely kills me--it is inexcusable at this point in the season that he's still under 40%. That is going to be a massive liability in the playoffs, especially against the Spurs, who will hack-a-Haywood liberally.
3. What was the biggest misconception of the year?
LJ: I think we, along with other teams, assumed that our double-headed center tandem of Chandler and Haywood would make us unbeatable in the paint. Unfortunately, things didn't quite pan out that way, and despite having incredible size and length in our front court, the Mavericks just haven't been able to contend with some of the better big men in the league.
Travis: The Mavs "improved defense" was the biggest misconception of the year. They looked great the first couple months of the season, but they did last year too. And we all know how that ended. Chandler has been a great vocal presence in the middle, but he's not a particularly adept one-on-one low post defender. And the Mavs' backcourt is just too small, slow, and old for the Mavs to ever be a truly elite defensive team. I don't mean to sound overly harsh, because I think the players and coaches do a great job with what they have, but this roster just isn't built to be a lock-down defensive team like the Spurs of the early decade.
Tcat75: That Rick Carlisle is a bad coach. I see a lot of people, both fans and media, express that Carlisle doesn't really know what he's doing, but this season certainly backed some of his decisions up quite nicely. He's not the greatest coach in the league, but he's made this team find a way to thrive in the West despite not having the talent other people have. He's found ways to cover up this team's defensive flaws, he's found ways to exist without a true second scorer, and he's found ways to win games when the Mavericks should not even have been in. He doesn't get enough credit for what he does.
4. How did this season match up to your pre-season expectations? Do you consider this to be a good or a bad season?
LJ: As a Mavericks fan, it's easy to get spoiled. I realize that those of you who have been fans for much longer probably have a different opinion, but we who are of the more recent variety have gotten used to 50+ win seasons, guaranteed playoff berths, and relatively high seeding in the Western Conference. With our acquisition of Tyson Chandler in the off-season, as well as Dominique Jones, it looked as though we were going to see the same old, same old high-caliber Dallas Mavericks team with a shot at the title, but not necessarily front-runner status. Yes, this season has been absolutely wild in terms of consistency. But you can't ignore the record, and if you take back the seven games we lost without Dirk, we would be right up there with the Spurs. The loss of Caron Butler has really been as bad as we thought it would be, but all things considered, I'd say we're exactly where I though the team would end up.
J0shi: 50+ wins and 3rd seed? Sure. San Antonio being in front of us? No. Going into the season I had hopes for the second seed behind the Lakers...or even more. The core had a camp and preseason to grow together and we had a legit center rotation with Tyson as the backup, plus Roddy surely would be joining the team rather sooner than later. Oh well.
DOH: The result is better than expected, the progress and process is worse. By that i mean that through the way last season ended, Beaubois was basically given the keys to the franchise [sic!] in the offseason. People, including me, were skeptical of Chandler's actual impact; the FIBA World Championship was not really a strong, visible body of work for him. So yeah, 50 Wins were expected, but not the rebreaking of Beaubois' 5th metatarsal. Thanks, aggressive rehab schedule and Mavs nilformation about that. With him basically out for large parts of the year, the idea that he would/have to replace not Kidd nor Barea, but Jason Terry with his only partly guaranteed contract next year[forget it, that's over with now] was pretty moot. That's a Bummer. Lost time, lost rhyme.