On this recent winning streak -- winning 10 out of 12 to make the playoffs -- the Mavs have found ways to win without their best players and sometimes even without their second and third and fourth best players. Seriously, how is this team in the playoffs again?
So we asked the staff: Who is the Mavericks' MVP this season and why?
I don't know that you can say that the Mavs have an "MVP" this season. The team has been boueyed by the efforts of the whole cast at times. It was the play of Zaza Pachulia early. It was CONTRACT YEAR RAYMOND FELTON for a while. It was the greatness of 37 year old Dirk Nowitzki displaying championship caliber play. It was #handsome Chandler Parsons coming into his own before going down again. It was the grit of Wesley Matthews. It was D-Will in the clutch. It was J.J. Barea carrying the team recently. Justin Anderson, Salah Mejri, and even JaVale McGee played a part in the story of this team.
The Mavericks aren't perfect but they embody what Rick Carlisle has repeatedly said. It's a team effort and players have to be ready when their number is called. Frankly, even though the results have been mixed and at times disappointing, this has been a team that has stepped up when called upon. If there is an MVP I'd have to say it's Carlisle. He's been happy, he's been mad, he's made fun of this site in a press conference, but through it all he has been stubbornly frustrating. And I mean that as a compliment.
We don't know what he's going to do. We've questioned his three-guard lineups countless times but they work. He goes with what works even if he has to go through so many trials to find out what will work. I can't think of another coach who's willing to experiment so much just to get positive results. We will never know what Carlisle is thinking and we will second guess him when he's wrong (or when we think he's wrong) but the fact remains that he is, and always will be, several steps ahead of us. Our comprehension, or lack there of, of Carlisle is what makes him the MVP.
An MVP is pretty hard to crown when you have a team as worn by attrition as the 2015-16 Dallas Mavericks, but if one must be chosen, I choose Dirk Nowitzki.
Dirk leads the team in most comprehensive metrics, but he's also still a huge part of what makes most every other player on this roster better. Does J.J. Barea excel in pick and roll without all the attention paid to Dirk, even at age 37? Does Zaza grab so many offensive rebounds if Dirk isn't drawing opposing big men away from the basket? Nowitzki has had stretches where he's struggled mightily, as he's been forced to play more minutes than I'm sure he or Rick Carlisle would prefer. He's still been the one constant presence on the floor for Dallas(aside from Wes Matthews, who probably needs a mulligan on this season after recovering from his ruptured Achilles), however, and it's hard to imagine the team surviving his absence the way they've survived so many others'.
Among the many reasons playoff basketball would mean so much for Dallas -- even if it is just another two weeks -- is that it would mean more of the Big German. The city may never get to enjoy an athlete like him again, so soak it up while you still can. I know I will.
There is no true MVP on this Mavericks team. It's too difficult to pick one particular player out of a group of guys that weren't even supposed to make the playoffs this year, and say it's because of them. Zaza Pachulia had a great start to the year before he fizzled out. Wes Matthews had a terrific run in December. Chandler Parsons looked like an All-Star at the turn of the calendar year. Along the way, Deron Williams' clutchness was on display when healthy. Dirk Nowitzki literally carried the decomposing carcass of this team to a couple of key wins, and even scored 40 points on a Sunday afternoon. And now, it's J.J. Barea and Justin Anderson leaving their fingerprints on this Dallas run toward the postseason. Even Salah Mejri and David Lee have made contributions that have been impactful for the Mavs.
I can't give an MVP award to one guy. If you held a gun to my head and made me choose, I'd have to go Parsons because he took that next step in January and February into becoming a superstar. Big things are on the horizon from him in 2016-17, if he comes back to Dallas. But to label one player as the reason why Dallas is back in the playoffs would be too difficult of a decision for me to make. Rick Carlisle has spent this last week and a half coaching his best brand of basketball this season, and everyone has contributed in some form or fashion. I'm proud to say I was wrong about thinking this team wouldn't make the playoffs, even though two weeks ago they were dead in the water. This team is fun, and there's still a chance they can shock the basketball world in April.