On October 29, the first day of the 2013-14 NBA season, I posted “A Blatantly Biased But, I Think, Mostly Clear-Eyed 2013-14 Dallas Mavericks Season Preview.” In it, I made six points. Let’s review them.
Dirk Nowitzki is back and looking like Dirk Nowitzki. “[D]o you really think he’s done? Here are the last two things to go: height and shooting. He’s got both. He might not be ‘put the team on his shoulders and win games singlehandedly with his insane, wrong-legged, crazy-high-arching fadeaway shot’ Dirk anymore, but he’s not terribly far off.” I was right and wrong about this. 1) He definitely is not done, just a few percentage points away from another 50/40/90 season. 2) There have been more than a few games where he absolutely was “put the team on his shoulder and win games singlehandedly with his insane, wrong-legged, crazy-high-arching fadeaway show” Dirk. I SEE YOU, BIG GERMAN.
Monta Ellis Will Enjoy Playing With Dirk, And You Will Enjoy Watching Him Do So. “Will he always take smart shots? Probably not. It will be frustrating at times, for sure. And, at other times, it will be absolutely intoxicating. He gets to the rim, he’s a better passer than anyone gives him credit for, his shoe game is extremely tight, and, in the right situations, he has been efficient.” I think this has played out pretty much exactly like I expected. Yes, he has shot the team out of a couple of games with ill-advised long jumpers early in the shot clock (the recent Golden State game, for instance). But he’s also rescued the team in more than a few fourth quarters. The good definitely outweighs the bad here. Excited to see what he does when/if he gets to return to playoff ball.
This team is going to have a great offense. “Dirk is on the comeback trail, I just said enough about Monta, new point guard Jose Calderon is the quarterback they missed all last season, Shawn Marion gets in where he fits in, and Vince Carter is more like ‘Half Man, Half Ridiculous Shot Selection’ now, but still capable of punch off the bench.” YEP.
And a pretty average (in the best possible scenario) defense. “I don’t look forward to seeing what happens when a team faces a speedy guard who can get to to the basket.” ALSO YEP. Maybe even worse than average, depending.
Have you ever imagined what it would be like if someone merged Erick Dampier and Desagana Diop into one player and then made that player past his prime and a little out of shape? “Congratulations. The Mavs have Samuel Dalembert.” I was wrong-ish about this. Dalembert has had a weird season. He overslept his way out of favor briefly, but he’s been absolutely crucial at other times. I don’t know. Can’t figure it out. He’s definitely an X factor. When he’s on, he’s definitely better than the Dampier/Diop combo platter. You just don’t know when he’ll be on.
Bottom line: “They didn’t upgrade enough to be considered a contender for anything other than a playoff spot. Maybe if everything went absolutely perfect, the team would have an outside shot at the 5th or even the 4th seed. I’m not saying that will happen. That is under pristine laboratory conditions, and even then, there is probably somewhere around a 3 percent chance of that happening. Don’t get your hopes up. I think, most likely, the Mavs finish with 46-47 wins and, let’s say, the 6th seed.” Close. The Mavs, going into tonight’s game against San Antonio, are 48-31 and currently sit in the seventh seed, a half game up on the Phoenix Suns, 1.5 up on the Memphis Grizzlies, and two games behind Golden State in the loss column. The Mavs would have to win out — giving them 51 wins — and Golden State would have to lose the rest of their games for the Mavs to overtake them, taking into account tiebreakers. Don’t see that happening. But 50 wins is a definite possibility. Glad to be wrong here. (I was pretty close though.)