The 2017 NBA season was supposed to be an exciting time for Mavericks fans. We were bringing in an exciting young rookie, Dirk was starting his 20th season, and Barnes was supposed to take the next step up. Here we are about 15 games into the season and we are watching the worst team in the league.
Not only are the Mavericks losing, they are getting flat out beat. The team is a minus 7.9 and can’t seem to put up any points. Dirk obviously cannot carry the load in his 20th season and you see his age showing even more than last year. Our leading scorer is Harrison Barnes but he’s only averaging 18.4 PPG at this moment. We need a leader to step up and currently rookie Dennis Smith Jr. is not ready.
What also concerns me is that Rick Carlisle is playing approximately 2 guys over 30 minutes per game… Usually you want to have your starters or core up to 32-36 minutes per game. What this tells me is that Rick wants to test his lineups and find what works. Valiant indeed but hard to fathom as I love seeing my team compete and win. We also don’t see any players with a 20+ PER. If you don’t know what PER is, it is as follows:
The Player Efficiency Rating (PER) is a per-minute rating developed by ESPN.com columnist John Hollinger. In John’s words, “The PER sums up all a player’s positive accomplishments, subtracts the negative accomplishments, and returns a per-minute rating of a player’s performance.” – Pro Basketball Reference
The good, heck even mediocre teams have players who are performing at a higher rating than our highest at 18.4.
Is There a Fix?
Maybe, maybe not. I remember the Mavericks back in the day when they were running out lineups with Khalid Reeves, Robert Pack, George McCloud, Loren Meyer, or Chris Anstey. Those were some bad years. What is different is that we do have talent. Barnes is not a bad player but he’s not a number 1 option. Dennis Smith Jr. is a good rookie and will need time to develop. Nerlens Noel (if his mind is in it) can really make an impact inside. Beyond this though the team doesn’t have much and isn’t developing much.
The fix in my opinion is a combination of 2 things. It also depends on where the organization wants to see this team be. First, I would play Smith Jr. and Barnes together as much as possible. Build the cohesion between the two. Let them work the two man game. Get them in those Dirk and Jet packages OR those Dirk and Nash packages. Have the two guys who are possibly the face of your franchise for the next 3 years build together. Second, bring in veterans a few good veterans. The argument here is usually, well nobody wants to play for a loser. Well, why did Zach Randolph and Vince Carter sign with Sacramento? Z-Bo is on a 2 year deal and Vince a 1 year. Denver has 37 year old Richard Jefferson. Do we have veterans? Yes, we do but we need guys who have been through a variety of experiences throughout there careers. Also, these men can be great mentors to the younger players and help them grow there game faster.
Tanking is NOT the Answer
I hear all the time that tanking can be good, and teams are going to build through the draft. Add that to, well the Warriors have this league for the next 5-7 years. Why compete now and not build for the future, etc, etc….. Sorry, but that’s complete nonsense (insert an expletive for nonsense if you please). Teams should always be on a 3 year plan. This league moves too freaking fast. Remember in 2010 people thought Miami had the whole decade locked down? Well, now the Warriors showed up and it’s the same story… Did teams tank in the 2000’s? Kobe, Shaq, KG, Tim, Dirk, and a slew of other players were gunning for a championship. We saw the Nets, 76ers, Pistons, Spurs, Lakers, Mavericks, Heat, and Pacers make the finals. Lock this in, THREE YEAR PLAN.
Year 1: Drafted a top 10 player at PG, and already have a solid starting SF/PF.
Year 2: Draft a high end pick or high IQ starter, bring in seasoned veterans, and work the starting five to have a mixture of attributes.
Year 3: Draft mid or high, bring in your 3rd or maybe 2nd option and continue to build the starting five.
Now what you have here is in a nutshell. If I went in depth we would look at specific players and contracts. This doesn’t include potential cap space and signings, retirements, and players we do not bring back. What I’m trying to show you is that there can be a plan to build in 3 years, but also in this what I didn’t show is the turnover happening during the building phase. Right now the team is lacking a core but I believe they are 2/3’s the way there.
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