Damn, I would feel so much worse for the Mavs if I didn’t like the Clippers so much.
In the aftermath of what will now and forever be referenced to on this site as “Banana Boat-Gate”, the Clippers and Doc Rivers pulled off the absolute coup of the offseason, swooping in like goddamn superheroes (or more accurately like Ashy Larry in Chapelle’s hook up history hehehe) to steal Deandre Jordan away from Dallas at the very last moment. If you want a full description of this debacle, or maybe even just a simple explanation for the banana boat emojis check out this recap put together by the excellent Grantland Staff. We’re gonna gloss over all of that here.
What’s important here is that Dallas enters the season with approximately three NBA players (four if you count Deron Williams, which I do not), two of whom are coming off serious injury and will not be ready for the beginning of the season. Scrolling through the rest of the roster on the Mavs’ website page could be a fun game of Who’s Who or a deliberately sadistic exercise in the mockery of adult men, depending on how you feel about Dallas or Dirk or the Cube man himself. J.J. Barea looks like a 12 year old, despite being much closer in age to 47. Charlie Villaneuva is featured in perhaps the most flattering picture he has ever taken in his life. And of course, as a Knicks fan, you get to see that Raymond Felton is still in the NBA! (Yes, that was part 3 of a series of 7 minute long videos. And yes, that was the same guy breaking down Tim Hardaway’s horrible play a couple of teams ago).
Also still in the NBA are the couple of flyers that the Mavericks were forced to take after Jordan’s cruel rebuff, including the triple-double wonder Javale McGee and former Knick and locker room-napper Sam Dalembert. Yeah, if either of them comes close to approximating even half of DJ’s All-NBA level rebounding and shot-blocking, Cuban is a goddamn moneyball genius.
Because they are going to seriously need that help on defense. Deron Williams is 50 years old. J.J. Barea is tiny and also 50 years old. Dirk Nowitzki, bless his German soul, also 50 and so horrible on that side of the court that putting him into the pick-and-roll may be the most revolutionary new weapon on offense since the introduction of the three point line. Hell, the only real plus defende on this team is Wesley Matthews but he’s coming off a torn achilles and won’t be ready until close to Christmastime. The Mavs are going to need to shoot teams back into the locker room if they want to remain competitive this year.
Which they have been able to do traditionally. I’ve spoken several times on this website about the talent Rick Carlisle has for maximizing his rosters and pulling out superb results from what look like ill-fitting pieces. The Mavericks had the best offense in the league for about half of the season last year, which really only took a significant dip after the Rajon Rondo trade. During that span, the Mavericks used a high speed read-and-react offense, whipping passes around the court and using the threat of Dirk’s shooting from the 4 with Tyson’s rolls to the rim to keep defenses perpetually guessing and reacting a second too late. Those Mavericks? They’d be a top-10 team on here for sure.
Tyson might help a little bit more than people realize on offense. Sure, he carries the most value functioning as a defensive linch-pin and went a lot further towards cleaning up the entire teams’ miscues than anyone could have asked. But he’s hella underrated on the other end as he is one of the smartest cutting big men in the game who finishes in the top 5 in field goal percentage every single year. The real blow, though, might just have to be Monta Ellis whose role as a primary ball-handler and pick-and-roll murderer basically provided the engine for the entire Mavericks offense. Ellis may not be the greatest shooter, but as a drive and kick threat and a crafty finisher around the basket he was able to put the team on his back and make the transition from a totally Dirk-centric offense much less painless than it could have been.
For people who still think the Mavs are making the playoffs next year, I’m sorry. And for the people who think the Mavs are going to be entertaining when they miss that postseason, sorry again. There’s going to be a lot of teams higher up on here that will struggle on defense and can only win games by hitting supernova and blowing out opponents, but I doubt Dallas will even be able to do that. This is a team that got hosed in the offseason and the sooner they realize they should shut it down for the season to preserve Dirk for one more run, while keeping Wes and Chandler healthy, the better off they’ll be.
They also paid Deron Williams money, which is just the worst.