It looks like the Mavericks may miss the playoffs for the second time in 16 years. If they miss, the Mavs Moneyball staff discussed how disappointed they are relative to both preseason expectations and your midseason expectations.
Read on, then let us hear your thoughts in the comments!
Under both scenarios, I am extremely disappointed. I knew the team had limitations with health and a lack of talent in areas but in our preseason predictions I thought the Mavs were good enough for a low seed since I didn't trust the other West hopefuls. And I was sorta right! New Orleans and Utah have both been vast disappointments compared to their preseason hype and the Mavs got out to a nice start and they STILL might miss the playoffs. It goes to show how dreadful the team has been since December. Combine that with Dirk's renaissance in March and I'm having the least fun with a Mavs team in the Dirk era -- yes that includes the Darren Collison/Mike James/Chris Kaman sinkhole. How far we done fell.
I'm disappointed only in relation to not getting to see Dirk give it the old college try in the playoffs again. Relative to expectations, in either scenario this is what I thought was going to happen. The Mavericks have been fighting the tide for years. In 2013, in one of my first major columns, I argued the Mavericks needed to tank and get a better draft pick to try to plan for the future more. That ended up being a dumb argument because Dallas was always going to try to reload quickly as long as dirk was around. Where the Mavericks have utterly screwed the pooch is being unwilling to draft and develop along side reloading. It's left the cupboard bare of talent, assets, and hope. These injuries, while not a foregone conclusion, sort of feel that way when looking at the make up of the roster. Dirk's brilliance at 37 can only sustain the team for so long. And now here we are, on the edge of the abyss. I'm nearly ready to jump. This sucks.
The Mavs missing the playoffs is disappointing but at the same time it isn't. Let me explain. Neither I nor anyone reading this, unless they are a player or in the front office of the team, has any control over the outcome of any game or the season as a whole. Dallas went out and assembled a team that, frankly, performed much better than was expected for the majority of the season. They got our hopes up. Unfortunately, the magic ran out and the clock chimed midnight.
I predicted that the Mavs would be a .500 team at the start of the season. I said it on one of our podcasts so you can go back and listen to it if you don't believe me. But then there was that midseason hope. It looked like Dallas was good enough to hang around the 5 or 6 seed. I seriously thought they would. They didn't. They fell hard and fast. Then Parsons had surgery. He was playing great. But in spite of his performance, and that of Nowitzki, the team kept losing. Total Marvs effort.
Now, we've reached Morbs. Full Morbs. I'm sure the players are disappointed with the losing. I'm sure Cuban is frustrated. And I'm positive Carlisle can't stand it. But I'm not surprised and that's why I'm really not disappointed. Sure, making the playoffs is great. I honestly think a first round series with Golden State would be fun even though the Mavs would get swept. But it seems like the Mavericks have made making the playoffs an empty goal for the last few seasons. They haven't been competitive except once against the Spurs. It's just a short extension of the season. Monetarily it matters but for us fans the joy is gone. Maybe missing the playoffs is what this team needs as a wake up call to the front office. At least that's the hope.
Based on my preseason expectations, yes, I am profoundly disappointed. This season more or less played out the opposite of how I figured it would. The Mavs' two most talented and expensive starters were injured to start the season and the Mavs yet again featured a new cast of characters that would need time to get used to playing with each other. Given that, I figured the Mavs would struggle at first, relying too much on Dirk Nowitzki to carry them to a decent (i.e. around .500) record until Parsons and Matthews could slowly get healthy and integrated into the team. It made sense that the team would start slow and then round into a playoff dark horse as all the pieces started to fit together.
But the opposite happened. The team started off surprisingly well and then slowly got worse and worse as the season progressed. By midseason, you could kind of see where this team was heading in terms of going from being a solid 5-6 seed to fighting a handful of teams for one of the last two spots. Holy crap I never thought it would get THIS bad though.
This Mavericks season was doomed from the moment DeAndre Jordan decided he preferred Raising Cane's with his old Clipper pals over nightclubbin' with Chandler Parsons and Mark Cuban. We've spent seven or eight months trying to convince ourselves that wasn't the case, but that's no longer possible. Dallas just doesn't have a good enough roster this year, even if the rebound they made after Jordan de-committed was impressive. But there's only so much you can do when you're that far behind.
My preseason expectations was a .500 record and a No. 9 seed, which appears to be almost directly on target. By midseason, I started to believe this team could make the playoffs, and I still would have them in the postseason had Chandler Parsons not got hurt. I'm disappointed as someone who loves covering playoff basketball, I'm disappointed for Dirk Nowitzki, but overall, this feels like the team that the Mavericks were stuck with when their summer plans unexpectedly erupted all volcano-like. It's hard to be too upset with this team, overachieving as much as they did.