The recent moves by the Dallas Mavericks to become the North Texas Warriors have happened in rapid succession. So quickly, in fact, that many of us have jumped to conclusions about what types of players both Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut are and how they'll help (or hurt) the team's chances next season.
So I decided to reach out one of my good friends, Bram Kincheloe, a long time staff writer at SB Nation's Golden State of Mind. He answered a number of my most pressing questions (and confirmed a rather large fear) about both players and gave his perspective as an outsider looking in on our newly reformed Mavericks squad.
1) Let's talk first about Harrison Barnes. What do Maverick fans need to know about his game? What are his strengths? What about weaknesses?
Whew! Where to begin? *Rubs hands voraciously*
So, Harrison is a deeply talented, heart-achingly frustrating player. The short answer to your question is: I honestly still don't really understand Barnes' game, even after all this time and after covering each of his games for the past few years. He's 6'8", has prototypical size for the modern NBA, and can handle larger, stronger players in the paint (see: Zach Randolph in the 2015 series). He has the form and ability to be a good shooter, but as you saw in the NBA Finals, the fear is that he'll go cold. Which ... happened with an alarming regularity throughout the season, especially as he tried to work his way back from an injury early in the season. If he ever hits his ceiling (not holding my breath), he could be a dangerous player. But, seeing him in the open court, dribbling, is one of the most abjectly terrifying things to witness if Barnes is on your team. Dude just cannot dribble with confidence. Nor does he shoot with confidence when he's in a rut (again, see the NBA Finals). Maybe, maybe his ceiling is something like ... man, I don't even know. Rudy Gay with better defense? Which, yikes.
2) As an outsider looking at the roster, how do you think Barnes fits both offensively and defensively?
Offensively, he'll finally get a chance to find his groove and find his own shot. No more just posting up in the corner and hoping Stephen Curry or Draymond Green kick it to him because the main action broke down, or because they'd stretched the defense past any sane breaking point.However, that's been his entire game, really. Hitting uncontested corner threes and occasionally putting up some insane highlight play that would make any modest person blush.
But, therein lies his tantalizing upside: Dude can pull off some things athletically that are completely unique to him. If he ever figures out how to dribble, and if he has more space and freedom on court as a primary scorer, and then if he combines his shooting with his explosive abilities, perhaps he'd be a borderline all star, someday. Especially if the Mavericks overachieve. Defensively, he can hold his own. I trust that he'll be put in the best possible position by the Mavs' coaching staff. Having Bogut behind him, again, won't hurt either.
3) What will you miss about covering Barnes?
I'll miss the frothing-at-the-mouth Barnes supporters over at GSOM. Ha! Kidding! No, honestly, I'll miss his open, empathetic, curious approach to both life and basketball. If you haven't watched it yet, check out this amazing video as he rode around Oakland with Marcus Thompson.
It's rare to find a player with such a well thought out, measured approach with the media. He will definitely run for office someday.
4) Andrew Bogut is also now a Maverick. What did he bring to the Warriors and how do you see him impacting the Mavericks?
Bogut was in many ways the heart and soul of the team. Sure, that title officially belongs to Draymond Green, and sure Curry was the obvious MVP, etc. But, things really turned around once Lacob moved Monta Ellis out of the building and brought in the Aussie big man. His rim protection is still very good, and he's such a load in the paint that teams have to account for him on both ends of the court. He can catch the alley-oop, and he can eat up space. He's still fairly light on his feet, especially given his size and injury history. But, again, he suffered yet another injury (luckily one that did not require surgery) in the NBA Finals. What will his mobility look like when he returns to the court? Honestly, you will f'ing love rooting for this guy.
5) Is his health a serious concern or is it more of a bad luck thing?
Both? Every single injury he's had has been a freak injury. The elbow, the knee in this last series, etc. But he does keep getting inured. At what point does his body just stop responding to treatment, considering the miles he's put on it and considering he's 31?
6) What's your favorite Andrew Bogut story?
Has to be the "I got my ring fitted for my middle finger" story, right? I mean, that is just PEAK Bogut. I'll never forget that, and that story will follow him around his entire career as a perfect summation of his grit, desire to win, and general don't-give-a-f-what-you-think open approach.
7) What do you think of the Maverick off season?
Um, sadly this tweet is the first thing that came to mind.
The Mavs in free agency are like that suspiciously empty rush hour subway car— ☕netw3rk (@netw3rk) July 4, 2016
We'll see, though. Maybe it all works out? Maybe Bogut plays with a high level of confidence and health? Maybe Barnes finally kicks it into another gear now that he's truly a featured part of an offense? Maybe, maybe, maybe. Maybe Seth Curry gets meaningful minutes and proves he deserves a bigger part of the action? But, yeah. That's a lot of things that would have to fall into place and be "better than expected" for the Mavs to have a cohesive vision moving forward