Posts tagged ‘Dallas Mavericks’

March 9, 2011

An Additional Opinion on the MVP Race: Dirk Nowitzki

by Jeeves

I realize that talking about the MVP race is hardly groundbreaking blogging, but it is something that I want to address as the NBA season enters its last quarter. If I had it my way, the league’s MVP would simply be the best player in the league. Such a simple pronouncement takes out a lot of the opaqueness of the award and sets is up, in a historical sense, as a great barometer of whom, at any point, was amongst the best in the league. That isn’t to say that the MVP doesn’t do that now, (it does to a certain degree), but it’s often muddled by other factors. Wes Unseld was a great player; he’s a hall of famer. I don’t, however, think that he was ever amongst the very best players in the league, yet he won an MVP award. He won due to other vaguer factors that people often attribute to the award, such as which player if removed from his current team would see his team fall the farthest. I’m not trying to say one way or another if that’s the right way to look at the MVP, because there is no right way. The rules governing the voting aren’t exactly clear.

So with that at mind, I want to take a look at each MVP candidate through the prism, that it seems, most sports writers look through. That means I’ll take equal parts sheer basketball awesomeness, ability to raise teammates play, and irreplaceability (new word!) on their team. I’ll also take into account general development in comparison to past years, while de-emphasizing W-L record.

As I see things today, if I had a ballot, I would go:

1) Dwight Howard

2) Dirk Nowitzki

3) Derrick Rose

4) Lebron James

Each day this week, I’ll take a look at a different candidate, starting from the top and working my way down. Today let’s take a look at Dirk.

2.) Dirk Nowitzki

This was a tough call for me. The way I see it Rose and Nowitzki are both very close in the MVP race, at least in my eyes. The Bulls fan in me yells Rose, Rose, Rose, but if I am truly objective, I have to have Nowitzki at 2A and Rose and 2B.

The thing that immediately jumps off the page with Dirk is his shooting. He is hitting an astounding percentage of his shots. For the season he’s hitting 53% from the field and 42.5% from 3pt land which are both career highs. Amongst starters (say people who have played at least 40 games and average at least 30 minutes), he has the second highest shooting percentage of non-centers. That’s pretty absurd considering how many outside shots he’s taken. He averages 3.3 shots  from 10-15 feet and shoots 51% on them, 6.2 shots from 16-23 feet and makes an astonishing 54%, as well as 2.5 3-pointers a game. He truly is an offensive force at any spot on the court. He creates match-up problems every game which opens up shots for his teammates, especially in the pick and roll.

One of the main knocks about Dirk throughout his career is that he’s soft and not good at defense. This notion isn’t exactly true. He struggled a bit early in his career, but has always been a slightly above average defender. He’s not great and he won’t necessarily lock down your best post player, but he’s serviceable and certainly is not a detriment to his team. Defensive rating is a stat that tries to account for the number of points a player gives up per 100 possessions. The stat isn’t perfect, but it provides a tool to, at least, try and gauge these types of things. Dirk currently as a DRtg of 105. League average is 107 (and, obviously, the lower the rating, the better), which shows that Dirk is no Dwight Howard, but is still adding value on that end of the court.

Another way to analyze things is to look at Dirk’s time on the court vs his time off of it. According to basketballvalue.com, the Mavs are 18.00 pts per 100 possessions better with Dirk on the court. This represents the second highest total in the league, and accounts for both defense and offense. Also, looking at 82games 5-Man Unit breakdowns, you can see that the Mavs’ best offensive lineup includes Dirk, as does its best defensive lineup. You don’t even need advanced stats to see Dirk’s effect on the team. When he missed 9 games due to injury, the Mavs went 2-7. They lost to such lightweights as Toronto and Milwaukee. There’s the age old question of how much worse would the team be without (insert player). Though it represents a tiny sample size, it seems the Mavericks would be far, far worse.

It kills me to do it,  but Dirk, for now, gets the slight edge over Rose for the 2-spot in my rankings. The biggest deciding factor for me is just the pure efficiency with which Dirk scores. I’ll go into it in more depth tomorrow when I talk about Rose.

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February 1, 2011

New Warriors Owners Getting Early Taste of Perpetual Franchise Disfunction

by npiller88

They even feed the children!

The Golden State Warriors have one of the most loyal, energetic, passionate fan bases in professional sports. The state of never-ending mediocrity in Oakland always gets met with optimism and tongue-in-cheek self deprecation. Take a look at the Warriors’ fan blog, goldenstateofmind.com–it features a quote from former rookie center Marc Jackson (whom no one remembers, nor should they), shouting “Unstoppable Baby!” after a two point bucket during the close of a 29 point loss to the Dallas Mavericks.

But beyond this great sense of humor displayed by Warriors devotees lies a deeper inferiority complex punctuated by years of losing and just awful, awful luck. Flash back to the 2007-2008 season, when the Warriors were fresh off of that scintillating upset of the #1 seeded Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs. They managed 48 wins, the best in many years for the franchise, but failed to make the playoffs during an historically competitive year in the Western Conference. They were the only team in NBA history to miss the playoffs with at least 48 wins.

That disappointment gradually devolved into a languishing culture of no-defense under Nellie (Don Nelson, the NBA wins leader among coaches). The past few years have been tough ones for Warriors fans.

But last season brought a ray of sunshine in the form of cherubic rookie guard Stephen Curry. Though the Dubs slogged their way to a 20+ win season, Curry brought energy and enthusiasm, along with real star power, something that is consistently lacking on the team, and something earnestly craved by the restless fanbase.

But this season, for all its marginal improvements in performance (the 20 win plateau has already been reached), has carried with it similar oddities and bad luck. The season started off well enough, even with the loss of top draft pick Epke Udoh and early ankle problems for Stephen Curry, as the Dubs cruised to a 6-2 record. With new front court acquisition David Lee in the lineup, the Dubs are actually at around a .500 winning percentage on the season. But when Lee was forced to miss ample time after being bitten (yes, I said bitten) by the Knicks’ Wilson Chandler, the Warriors began to slip in the win column once again. The maccabre nature of the injury was business as usual for the Warriors, who always seem to attract general strangeness. Perhaps it was a fitting initiation into said strangeness for the new owners, Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, who did their best to offer the best doctors on the planet to Lee’s mangled elbow. Alas, an infection couldn’t be avoided, and a sickly looking Lee began to add an odd, ghoulish presence to the Dubs’ bench, albeit in a suit and tie.

This new season brought much fanfare and optimism, with new owners, new uniforms and a fearsomely exciting back court featuring the electric Monta Ellis, who really has no equal in terms of raw quickness in the NBA, and the skilled, crafty Curry, whose shooting ability rivals any league veteran, and whose creativity around the basket and in setting up teammates shows tremendous potential. Ellis is averaging over 25 points per game this season, and probably won’t be an all-star, despite ranking sixth in the league in the league in that category, along with other gaudy numbers (including being ranked third in steals per game). But the greater frustration lies with Ellis’ raw talent. Anyone who has watched a full Dubs game knows the tornado that is Monta Ellis. His drives to the basket are often punctuated by ballet-like spins and twirls, with slick concentration and finishing ability around the rim. All-Star Game spectators will miss out on one of the most exciting players to watch in the past several years of up and down NBA action. No NBA player is quicker, at least certainly no player who stands as tall as 6’3.”

But therein lies the rub. Both Ellis and Curry, for all their brilliance, are the exact same size, at 6’3″ and 185 pounds. Slight guards in the NBA can put up shots, but usually can’t defend too well. There are exceptions, like Chris Paul, but they are few and far between. As long as the Warriors keep this back court together, it will be difficult to win consistently (assuming they won’t be able to pull off a trade for Dwight Howard). The irony of the situation is that their greatest weakness (abysmal defense in the back court), is also their greatest strength (blitzkrieg offense from a pair of marketable, offensively gifted playmakers). Few teams are more fun to watch than the Warriors, and a lot of that is because of their unique back court. But they don’t win too often, and it’s becoming more and more clear that Lee’s is not a sufficient inside presence to give the Dubs a winning squad. Back when Curry was drafted, a dejected Ellis said it best himself when asked if the two could play well together: “Can’t, just can’t.” Ellis has since matured and showed more of a team-oriented attitude, especially as regards Curry. But even if they can play together and look good, they have trouble doing it without losing far too often.

When Lacob told local blogger/journalist Tim Kawakami that he would consider trading Curry or Ellis if the right deal came around, fans started their annual freak out. Lacob has since backed off on those comments. But the situation remains the same. The Dubs will probably have to choose between a fun-to-watch team and a potentially successful one. That transition could come soon if they trade Curry or Ellis for a strong big man. But even then, something will probably go wrong. It’s the Warriors.

In the mean time, any good trade ideas for this frustrated Dubs fan? (If it wasn’t obvious enough, my allegiances are out now). Whoever that new Warrior is, he better watch out for wayward teeth.

January 28, 2011

Friday Photo: Blake Keeps his Eye on the Ball

by Jeeves

Each Friday we bring you a funny/odd/offbeat photo from the week before. As always hover over the pics for bonus captions.

Today’s picture has Blake Griffin upping the degree of difficulty on his rebounds because the game is coming too easily.

 

After the jump we have two more pics

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