Me, I’ll be very happy if the Mavs upset the Thunder. I will be happy if the Mavs make it competitive. I will be unhappy if they do not.
We have, of course, known all season that the bigger question is not can the Mavericks win the championship, the question is, are the Mavericks where they need to be? Did they do the best they could to compete this year, while making the right moves for next?
And how does that help answer the question, what will you be happy with?
You have heard me in this space, indeed frequently, suggest that the Mavericks might have been better served by embracing the present and thereby embracing the fact that probably the best thing they could do was agree to suck, in three or four years, and just start over.
As the endless and generally incredibly boring (and masturbatory) blogging debate about tanking has reached a fever pitch, I’ve had some reason to reconsider this idea.
Here’s some facts that I bet are not commonly known.
1) 1) The only top three pick in the last decade to win a championship with the team that drafted him is Darko Milicic. And that doesn’t exactly count, does it.
2) 2) In fact, Darko is the only top three draft pick of the last ten years to WIN a title.
3) 3) The most recent top three draft picks, besides Darko, to win a title, were two young men drafted in 2001, right behind Kwame Brown, an 18 year old Tyson Chandler followed by a slightly older Pau Gasol. So, 11 years ago.
4) 4) The top 7 picks in 2000, just for fun, were Kenyon Martin, Stromile Swift, Darius Miles, Marcus Fizer, Mike Miller, DeMarr Johnson and Chris Mihm. Go Mike Miller, I guess.
5) 5) The most recent #1 pick to have won a championship is Tim Duncan, in 1997. Chauncey Billups drafted 3rd , also won one, ‘course.
6) 6) The other top 3 pick that won one in the last 19 years is Jason Kidd, #2 in 1994. So, the Mavs are responsible for like 2/7ths of the top three picks to win one in the last 19 years. Cool, right?
7) 7) 1992, Shaq #1. Alonzo Mourning #2. Laphonso Ellis #5 (what). Walt Williams #7 (the Wizard! Remember that time he dunked from under the basket, in the playoffs, in those Nick Van Exel games?)
8) 8) I can’t personally vouch for how many of those dudes in like ’91 and ’92 did or did not win because I don’t have a memory of their entire careers and Tim Cato wasn’t even born, but as far as I know, 1987 #1 David Robinson, 1984 #1 Hakeem Olaujuwon.
I’m sorry was that boring? I found it fascinating.
Anyway, it turns out that hitting rock bottom isn’t as useful as you might think. Maybe hitting like, rock, mid-layer is the right thing to do.
Would it have been better if Chandler, and a couple others, had one extra year on their contracts? Sure.
Would it have been better if this season was like, a season, instead of a burning seventy car pile up of knees that don’t bend and reality stars that don’t feel like playing basketball.
But here we are. In the playoffs. Got an opponent we match up pretty well with. Dirk’s still here, looking more or less spry though I still bet he has a bounceback year, next year. They don’t have Tyson, but if you throw Wright-Haywood-Mahimni together and squint real hard, it looks sort of like it. They don’t have Barea, but Delonte’s actually better, though in different ways.
And yeah, they’re a relatively large underdog against a team they beat in five games last year, that didn’t really add any parts, but I happen to remember that Adrian Wojnarowski of yahoo sports, in his innocent wisdom, picked the Mavericks to get swept by the Blazers, the Lakers, and to lose to the Thunder in five.
So you’ve got a fighting chance, AND a future. What will you be happy with?