I think I’ve made it clear in this corner of the internet and beyond that the only sport I truly love is basketball, and, furthermore, that my preferred brand of the game is of the NBA variety, and, further still, that I live and die by the Dallas Mavericks. So, naturally, I am quite excited by the impending return of basketball and the NBA and the Dallas Mavericks. After the jump, I have some thoughts about the new faces on the squad. Before we get there, note that one of our regular contributors, David Hopkins, will also be a regularly contributing to the ESPN-affiliated Mavs blog The Two Man Game; his first piece is here. OK, let’s hit it.
Rating the Mavericks’ New Additions
Elton Brand: Once an All-Star, Brand is now at the point of his career where the Mavs were able to pick him up relatively cheaply, after he was cut loose by Philadelphia. He’s not cracking an All-Star roster again, unless there is an outbreak of some weird virus that takes away every player in the league’s ability to run and jump, forcing the game back into its peach-basket beginnings, and, even then, he’d only have a puncher’s chance. (He would also have a chance in the following scenarios: 1) World War III breaks out and most of the younger players are drafted, 2) he makes roughly 5 million copies of the ballot and votes for himself, or 3) rap skills and IMDb credits are factored in.) But, Brand is solid. Good post defender. Decent mid-range shot. Can rebound. Isn’t being asked to do much. And if that means the Mavs end up featuring heavily in Just Wright 2: A Knight’s Tale, so be it. Rating: Tom Berenger in Inception
Chris Kaman: See some of what I just said. Former All-Star, not at that level anymore, not really being asked to carry the offense or defense, but for sure being counted on to shore up any hunting trips the team has planned. Played with Dirk Nowitzki on the German national team. Potentially terrifying looking. Probably the most offensively skilled center the Mavericks have had since James Donaldson, which I don’t mean as damning with faint praise, but if I did mean it that way, that praise would indeed be the faintest, almost broken down to its trace elements. Easily the most active NBA hunter now that Brad Miller has retired. Not a bad pickup for the team; I’m not turning down, say, 12 points and 7 rebounds (maybe a stretch?) every night. He’s no one’s first choice, but definitely not bad to have around for certain occasions. Rating: a pair of camouflage cargo shorts
Darren Collison: After losing out on Deron Williams and then luckily losing out on Jason Kidd (I love him, but past tense), the Mavs sorely needed a point guard, and they sort of miraculously ended up with the speedy Collison, only giving up the leaving-anyway Ian Mahinmi. This is only Collison’s fourth season, so there is still a bit of potential here, even though he has regressed some from his strong rookie season, when he more than capably filled in for an injured Chris Paul. As I stated before, Collison is fast, can get to the rim with relative ease, and has a decent jumper he uses too infrequently. Rick Carlisle has proven he can max out a player’s talent, putting people in the right spot to succeed, so I’m interested to see what happens here. He could be the point guard of the future, and if he’s not, they didn’t risk much. Rating: Johnny Cash’s Rick Rubin-produced Unchained
O.J. Mayo: Ostensibly, Mayo will be filling the Jason Terry instant offense/deep threat role, now that JET is up in Boston getting sketchy tattoos. He has the potential to slot into that spot pretty well, since he’s familiar coming off the bench from his time in Memphis and, here, he won’t be abjectly terrified of the guy he’s backing up. Like Collison, he’s regressed a little from his rookie season, but the talent is there, and this could be another great low-cost, low-risk pickup for the Mavs if Carlisle can maximize his talent. Also: his name sounds like a terrible lunch, so there’s that. Also also: hello, ladies. Rating: the fan-made video for Mogwai’s “The Sun is Too Loud”
Dahntay Jones: More or less a throw-in with the Collison deal, he can be a good defender, or has been in the past, he’s unfortunately somewhat confident on offense, for no real reason, and to my dismay his name doesn’t really lend itself to “you suck” puns like Greg Buckner’s did. (Don’tay Jones, maybe?) Eh. Rating: Under Siege 2: Dark Territory
Rookies Jared Cunnigham, Jae Crowder, Bernard James: Cunningham has Russell Westbrook upside theoretically, Crowder is a hustle machine and sure-shot fan favorite, and James is a 27-year-old Air Force vet with a great story. There is potential here, but more than likely only one of them gets much run. Which one? I’d guess Crowder, but I’m a notoriously iffy guesser. Rating: the fake trailers from Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse