NBA.com released its "offseason" rankings of NBA teams and the Mavericks came in with a "B" based on Fran Blinebury's breakdowns of individual components as such:
It's a bit confusing as to what the rankings mean; for example is this an assessment of the offseason in terms of improvement over last year or is it ranking of where each team is before the next season begins? As our own Austin Ngaruiya observed earlier today, the Cavs got an "A" for acquiring Lebron and Kevin Love while the Spurs got an A+ for retaining Patty Mills, so the grading system seems a bit off kilter.
That being said, while the overall ranking doesn't seem completely out of the blue, there are some notable comments that seem at odds with other assessments of the Mavericks in comparison to other teams.
For example, the rundown on the frontcourt makes sense in looking over the versatile combination of Dirk and Tyson Chandler Parsons:
"There's a perennial All-Star, an up-and-comer and a solid anchor in the middle."
Some of the other sections, however, seem to be strangely lacking in looking at the big picture. Blinebury gives a somewhat shortsighted view of the bench:
"There's a lot of hoping going on when you go from steady vets [Shawn] Marion and Vince Carter to relying on Raymond Felton and Richard Jefferson to lead the reserves. Al-Farouq Aminu has shown the goods, not the consistency."
While making very valid points few observers are going to miss in concerns about the popular and productive staples now departed, Blinebury overlooks some of the most important pieces of the puzzle, most notably that Devin Harris is likely to garner the most reserve minutes in the backcourt and the uber-efficient Brandan Wright.
In addition, while anyone would expect Gregg Popovich to get an A+ ranking as he is generally considered not only the best in the NBA but one of the top coaches in league history, giving Rick Carlisle only an "A" in comparison is puzzling when he is widely regarded as the second-best, including by CBS Sports. Are we really to believe that Pops is the only A+ coach in the league? His own respect for Carlisle is pretty clear.
After the outstanding series that came dangerously close to a major upset and the only challenge the Spurs had in last year's playoffs, the thought of losing the Matrix, Vince and José Calderón would have been downright terrifying and as I wrote earlier this year, is still a matter of real concern. It's never a given that a new group will mesh and Mavs Moneyball's Johnathan Tjarks has also addressed replacing the Vincetrix specifically in detail.
Still, ranking Carlisle as anything other than an A+ is just silly and the assessment of the bench completely overlooks Wright and Harris, the two most significant pieces, both of whom should be healthy this year. That is an omission which is curious, to say the least.
Most Mavericks fans are very excited about the upcoming season and some of us at Mavs Moneyball have expressed unprecedented optimism. Okay, so we're fanboys here but nevertheless, giving the Mavericks anything less than a B+ doesn't make sense and an A- seems more appropriate. Based on at least a couple of obvious oversights in the comments, it's pretty clear how someone might reach a different conclusion but hey - that don't make it right...especially coming from NBA.com.