Matt Moore and Zach Harper spent some time in the Eye on Basketball podcast this week questioning the performance of Rick Carlisle and Tyson Chandler for the Mavs' defensive performance ... with no mention of the role guys like Shawn Marion, Jason Kidd and DeShawn Stevenson played on the championship team.
Then, during the Bulls-Kings game on Thursday -- a game in which former Mav Darren Collison recorded 17 points, 12 assists and six rebounds in a Sacramento win -- Moore had this observation about Rick Carlisle's influence on Collison.
@kpelton hard to shoot with confidence when Rick Carlisle comes by your room every night asking "Why are you the worst?"- Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) November 21, 2014
Not just Collison, but apparently multiple guards have started to suck after coming to play for Carlisle in Dallas.
Those tweets provoked some responses from Mavs media folks and some discussion on the Mavs Moneyball email thread between myself and Tim "Hal" Brown, as we wondered whether there was anything to those criticisms.
ANDREW: I'm honestly kind of baffled. I like Darren Collison a lot as a player but Carlisle was right to bench him in his lone season here. And other than that, Carlisle has played Kidd, Barea, Calderon, Harris and Nelson at point guard.Nelson has struggled a fair amount to open this season. But, not to be a homer, what is Matt talking about otherwise? I just think he's not being very...analytical?
As Bryan Gutierrez pointed out, Monta thrives in the pick and roll. Collison and Mayo struggled in the pick and roll *and* struggled to get Dirk the ball. And I hope Collison succeeds in Sacramento but he likely won't ever be more than a "good" point guard. But now Matt sees a parade of guards that have suffered in Dallas because of Carlisle. I don't feel like I'm being a homer here when I say that's a very weird reading of the situation. I mean, Carlisle turned Jose Calderon from an overpaid 30-year-old into a piece that got you Tyson Chandler in a trade.
TIM: Other than J Kidd the Mavs have literally never had a point guard under Carlisle perform even passably defensively. Carlisle destroyed Collison's confidence (remember, he was good for like 3 weeks!), and Devin and Jameer have both been way worse than expected under him. J.J. Barea was BAD for the Mavs his whole tenure until he had 10 great games in the playoffs and it's too early to judge how he's doing now. Don't think using all-time-great and HOFer J Kidd as a counter-example is fair, age notwithstanding.
I dunno, I'm kinda with Matt on this one. Carlisle's awesome but not the best with PGs. I've noticed some really, really weird defensive stuff that's got me worried too.
ANDREW: Putting aside Kidd, I really think Barea and Harris have performed about as well as you could have expected them to. And maybe Collison just wasn't up to the task in Dallas. At the time, I was very frustrated Collison didn't get more opportunities. But I don't necessarily blame Carlisle either. He was already pushing Mayo hard to produce more than he had before.
What baffles me even more than those comments is the musings on the defense. Like, is there any chance Tyson is basically the same player but he's covering for Jameer/Monta/Chandler and not Jason/DeShawn/Shawn? I think the rotations have likely played a part in the defensive struggles the Mavs have had but it just seems so silly to me to judge Tyson's performance without the context of other personnel on the floor.
TIM: Yeah, that was weird. I'm worried about the D too, but mostly because I've seen stuff like, "Parsons leaves assignment to double, but after the double, instead of rotating to the nearest guy and having his defender rotate to the weakside he tries to RUN CROSS COURT to catch up to his original assignment." That's super basic stuff that I'm seeing a lot of that I feel like is Carlisle's domain to take care of. And Tyson's struggled with those rotations too. He basically refuses to close onto open guys if it means leaving the paint, but he just has to do that sometimes. But I don't get Matt Moore's "Is Tyson not great anymore?" thing.
ANDREW: That's exactly what I'm talking about! Tyson's job is much easier when he has Kidd and Stevenson defending on the perimeter for major minutes. This team has had some defensive issues early in the season but to say "maybe Tyson's not that great anymore" or "maybe Carlisle's not that good without Casey" and not for a second examine the perimeter personnel is so weird to me.
TIM: Well, I do think there are questions to be asked about why players have such awful defensive habits. Like, breaking a lot of those small stupid things like "where do I rotate if I need to rotate?" are on the coach to teach and most of the team seems pretty clueless. But, like, still, it's pretty easy to be clueless even if you're a smart defender if Jameer Nelson, Harris, and Monta are never going to be in the right place anyway. Hard to figure out where you need to go if everyone is open.
ANDREW: I agree with you there for sure. And I think after so many games it's not out of line to say "why doesn't the coach have these guys in better position on D?!" I'm staying hopeful Carlisle will find a way to make improvements over the course of the season though. I just thought it was very weird to read "guards suddenly suck when they come to Dallas" on top of "Carlisle/Tyson aren't as good anymore."
What say you, Moneyballers? Discuss away in the comments below!