Though I joined sometime in 2009, I never really got into using Twitter until late in the 2010 season. You see, I have a 95 pound American Bulldog named Grace and Grace HATES sports. Well, maybe that's not accurate. She hates when I get really upset during a game. She responds to me being emotional during games by doing one of two things: 1) Trying to sit on top of me or 2) Trying to sit on top of my wife. Neither works well since, again, she weighs half as much as I do. So the only solutions seemed to be that either I needed to calm down during Mavs games (yeah right) or I needed an outlet. Twitter proved a perfect place, as it's basically a self identified chat room of subjects and people that you want to pay attention to.
It also allowed me to go back and review the sorts of things I’d been angry or happy about during previous games. I started to notice trends. For example, I really, really did not care for Caron Butler and his ball stopping during the first round series against the San Antonio Spurs. For the series he took 7 fewer shots than Dirk but managed to shoot 11% worse. He viewed himself as option 1B to Dirk’s 1A. As much as I appreciated the things Tough Juice brought to the Mavericks he was not my favorite player at times. In fact, in the short amount of time he was with Dallas, he became the player I irrationally hoisted so much of my frustration on during games in which things we’re going the way of the good guys.
Last year it was easy to find a target to blame for all the things that went wrong in Maverickland: Lamar Odom. Off the court, on the court, on his E! reality series, I focused just about all of my fan frustrations on Odom. If only he could give a hair more effort, if only he could finish a left handed layup as a left handed player</em>, if only he would get that impassive look off his face. We all know how that ended. During the playoffs I transferred my ire to the sweet shooting (note extreme sarcasm) G/F Vince Carter. But it just wasn’t the same.
I suppose (hope?) I'm not alone in this regard. I'd feel like a bit of a jerk. Despite having played and watched basketball since I was six, I continue to approach the game from a fan's point of view instead of being objectively analytical. I'm trying desperately to learn some sense of objectivity as I learn more and more about the game, but old habits die hard. With that said, I thought it time to take a look at the roster for this season and rank which players might drive we fans the most crazy:
5. Dominique Jones - I remember being delighted when Cuban swooped in and bought the 25th pick in the 2010 draft. I had no idea who Jones was, but being a fan of youth on a rapidly aging team, I was willing to buy in. We were told he was a penetrating guard who had a knack for both making tough drives and drawing free throws. While we didn’t see him much in 2010-2011, he received spot action last season, appearing in 33 games. He managed to shoot 63% at the rim last season, he managed to shoot 20% from everywhere else. While he is, in all honesty, a fine basketball player, even extrapolated over 36 minutes game he doesn’t really do anything at a level that demands he be on the basketball court in the NBA. I expect him to get some minutes just because this his last chance in Dallas to prove he belongs. Finally, the black shoes and mid calf socks drive me nuts.
4. O.J. Mayo - A sneaky pick, if mainly because his numbers and history lead many to believe that he should fit in and thrive within the system. However, early returns in preseason have shown a player who is still clearly trying to find his niche. While I think he will find his role with time, it may be frustrating watching such a talented basketball player get acquainted with his new situation.
3. Jared Cunningham - This probably isn’t fair at all to place Cunningham on this list, but being irrational is about disregarding the obvious. On draft night I was less than pleased with the initial move down. I thought there were better players available with the 24th pick. If any of these players turn out to be breakout players, I’ll be unhappy with Cunningham, even though its not his fault. I also don’t really see what Cunningham brings that Dominique Jones does not. Of course, this is why I am a fan and not a general manager. Perhaps Cunningham is a star.
2. Rodrigue Beaubois - Both Roddy and my next selection of Vince Carter are really 1A and 1B in terms of players most likely to drive a Dallas fan nuts. But given that Vince’s playoff performance (mostly his 29% field goal shooting) is still fresh in my mind, Roddy is going to have to take the second spot at the moment. Where do we begin with Roddy? He reminds me of the guy who shows up at the YMCA who has clearly never played basketball before, but has otherworldly athletic instincts. His numbers over 36 minutes are really quite good, but the way he plays within the Dallas system drives me to yell at the television a lot. Roddy dominates the ball on the dribble and has issues making basic entry passes. When your number one offensive option in Dirk needs entry passes (even at the high post) your lead guard has to be able to do this well. There’s also his frustrating injury history (seriously, I know dislocated fingers hurt, but do not fall down holding it. I know he kept playing but come on). Despite all this, one cannot help but feel that he is <em>right there</em> in terms of making the leap from potential to player. It’s what makes him equal parts delight and horror.
1. Vince Carter - Oh Vince, you know not what you do. It’s obvious from the fact that you still think a back-down, fade away 15 footer is a good shot in an offense based around fluid ball movement (Dirk is exempt from this shot criticism because he makes them with much more consistency). That Vince Carter is 35 is something he cannot control. However, I’d expect after 14 seasons he’d have a better grasp of what is and isn’t within his capabilities night in and night out. We certainly do not expect him to be superman nightly. In fact, I really enjoy his occasional monster dunk. When attacking the goal last year he shot just over 60% at the rim and 36% from three point range, he shot 33% from everywhere else. And it’s these shots which drive me to near madness.
These are my candidates, but who are yours? Am I dead wrong on a player here? Let me know. In fact, I’d LOVE to be proven wrong by all these guys as the Dallas offense and defense become a juggernaut. But at some point things are bound to go wrong during games, and I’ll need someone to point my finger at and shout “IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT”.