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A conversation on the Dallas Mavericks’ replacement players

Clint and Ben talk about how fun a random roster can be, and why it should be an annual tradition.

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Editor’s note: During the Bucks game our slack was aflutter with conversation. I asked these guys to condense, edit for clarity, and publish.

Clint: This is the most fun Mavs game this year.

Ben: The most fun in quite some time. Well, I guess the playoff wins last year were fun.

Clint: I think they made me so nervous that I couldn’t enjoy them like this though. This is zero stakes joy. New players! For the Dallas Mavericks!

Ben: Do you think the Mavericks players themselves are as bored playing with each other as we are watching them?

Clint: Yeah, I think the players feel like they’re in a marriage that’s gotten stale. These new guys are like their hall pass. It’s exciting and feels like something that shouldn’t be happening. And it’s not sustainable long term. But for the moment, it’s hot. Ben, I think I need to calm down.

I don’t know how much time you’ve spent watching youth sports, but it seems like there’s always one or two kids who are just so much more aggressive than everyone else. So a lot of kids just stand there and watch and those kids realize they’re allowed to just take the ball. That’s what Marquese Chriss reminds me of compared to Dwight Powell and Willie Cauley-Stein.

Ben: Your brain tells you these G-League call-ups aren’t good. But then Theo Pinson starts hitting 3’s and moving the ball with urgency and your heart starts thinking the Mavericks might have discovered something the rest of the NBA missed. So why do these replacement players look as good as the Mavericks’ regular rotation guys? If not better?

Clint: I think there’s only one answer. The Mavs regular rotation guys must suck. Even the substitute color commentators are an improvement. But seriously, I think it just has to come down to energy.

Ben: It makes you wonder why the regular players don’t have that kind of energy. I thought for all of Jason Kidd’s flaws, the one thing he would improve was the morale and energy of the team. I thought they would be an exciting, fun team to watch night after night. Instead, it looks like everyone is sleepwalking through every game. Then these new guys show up and it looks like they’re actually having fun playing basketball. Which is great to see, and depressing to think about in regards to the regular rotation.

Clint: Yeah but to be fair, these guys were sleepwalking last year too. This sounds like a dumb uneducated fan thing to say, and I am for sure a dumb uneducated fan, but is it just that we don’t have enough players with any kind of edge?

Like maybe the roster is too nice? There have been a lot of jokes about Chriss pushing Luka two years ago. But, can you imagine ANYONE on the roster pushing another player down like that? Let alone pushing down the other team’s star? I think there’s something to be said for just straight up aggression. Chriss, and Pinson are aggressive.

Also, Chriss’s hair is just fantastic. I think Luka should grow his hair out like Marquese.

Ben: Chriss has incredible hair, and needs to give Luka some guidance while he’s on the team. But the most important thing is making this an annual tradition, right? Minus Covid-19, of course. People have been clamoring for a mid-season tournament for a while now. What about a 2 week stretch where every player on your roster can only play 2 games, and you have to sign at least 4 new players to 10 day contracts? We could call it the Midseason Mixup. Two weeks of Frankenstein lineups to shake things up.

Clint: I think that’s a fantastic idea. Would lead to a lot of opportunities for G-leaguers, would give a break to the regular players, would lead to more stupid games like this one. I’m in! The refs could wear Santa hats.

Ben: One tweak needed to make this good idea a great idea—teams are required to bring on one former player. Doesn’t matter who or how long they played with the team. Just some sort of previous association with the franchise. This year, a lot of Mavericks fans are probably thinking Monta Ellis, who’s attempting to get back in the league. But if I’m running Dallas, my first call is to J.J. Barea. I know he can still play a little and the fans love him. What about you?

Clint: The only answer is Dirk. Wait no. The answer is Tony Romo.

Ben: Let’s get Adam Silver on the phone.