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Thursday, December 13, 2012

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for November: 19. Dallas Mavericks

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of November 30th):  7-9,  fourth place Southwest Division


18
This Month:
19
Team Statistics and League Rank (as of November 30th)

Points Scored: 100.9 (6th)
Points Allowed: 101.6 (27th)
Team FG%: .455 (9th)
Opponent’s FG%: .441 (15th)
Rebounds per game: 41.8 (14th)
Opponents rebounds per game: 46.7 (30th)
Turnovers per game: 15.2 (15th)
Opponents turnovers per game: 14.2 (21st)

Individual Statistical Leaders

Scoring (ppg): OJ Mayo (21.6)
Rebounds per game:  Shawn Marion (7.7)
Minutes per game: OJ Mayo (34.6)
Assists per game: Darren Collison (6.3)
Steals per game: Darren Collison (1.2)
Blocked Shots per game: Elton Brand (1.3)

Worst Player of the Month: Shawn Marion



After playing 13 long years offering solid contributions to every team whom he has played far, it may be the time to bid Shawn Marion a fond farewell as his days of being “the Matrix” are now over.  He’s posting a career low in scoring of 8.5 points per game and has increasingly become a nonfactor on his team.  Now playing  with a strained MCL, his once explosive athleticism is all but a fading memory and what’s left is a broken down shell of a player  that the Mavericks owe 17$ million over the next two years.  His current play is indicative of the sad current state of this once proud franchise that is now currently on the verge of complete collapse.  Marion’s declining performance and diminishing return will just continue to drag the mavericks further down and out of NBA relevancy.

First Player of the Month: OJ Mayo



Who would have thought that a player that was once considered a draft day bust and a lost cause would be the sole reason why the Dallas Mavericks remain remotely respectable thus far in this early season?  OJ Mayo went from being an inconsistent bench player in Memphis to becoming the team’s leading scorer posting a career high in points per game and simply torching the net from behind the arc shooting an inconceivable .523 from the three point line.  Considering the fact that the Mavs only got him for a mere 4$ million per year for two years makes him one of the most valued free agent acquisitions in the league.  Knowing his history of being streaky, his output will undoubtedly not last the entire season, but at least for now he will temporarily keep this sinking ship afloat until it inevitably fall to the bottom of the sea.  For Dallas’ sake, let’s hope that Mayo’s blistering start remains a mainstay for the duration of the season.

Analysis:

For a team heading for a long way down to the bottom after 13 straight playoff appearances, the Dallas Mavericks have played rather respectably to say the least.  Most other crumbling franchises would see no reason to continue trying and would simply tank their seasons with the hopes of attaining the number one overall pick in next year’s NBA draft, but not the Mavericks.  Dallas has remained competitive fighting for every win while showing that despite their dire circumstances and inevitable collapse, the Mavericks will not quit regardless. They started the season quite strong winning four of their first five games including shocking a rather lethargic and dumbfounded Los Angeles Lakers team as the Mavs beat them rather convincingly (10/30/2012).  Unfortunately for the Mavericks, the thrill of victory was fleeting at best as they would fall in eight of their next eleven games; however, that should not take away from the effort that the Mavericks have shown, especially considering the fact that they were without their star player for this entire time.

It is bad enough that the Mavericks’ roster primarily consists of lumbering dinosaurs on the verge of extinction, but to not have the man who has been the face, heart and soul of franchise should be devastating to say the least.  Despite being in obvious decline in terms of his performance and production,  Dirk Nowitzi remained Dallas’ sole beacon of hope to maintain the team’s fading chances to make a fourteenth straight appearance in the post season.  His absence has left the Mavericks a huge void to fill, especially on the offensive end; however, instead of simply throwing in the towel, the team grew stronger as Nowitzki’s teammates stepped up their games to fill the massive void he has left behind.  Although newcomer OJ Mayo has had to shoulder much of the scoring burden, winning has truly been a team affair as the Mavericks have had at least six of their players score in double figures in three of their seven wins in November.  Much of the credit has to be given to the team’s second unit who has been off setting the absence of their injured superstar.

Dallas’ bench that has been the primary factor in the Mavericks’ maintained stay in relevancy in a very competitive Western Conference.  Thus far, the bench have accounted for 40 of the team’s 100.9 points per game that it has scored in the 16 games that Dallas has played in November.  In all but two of their November games (10/30, 10/31), the second unit has come up big for the Mavericks scoring at least 30 points in every game, with more than 40 in six (11/5, 11/9, 11/10, 11/17, 11/21, 11/27) and scoring up to 58 of the team’s points in two of them as well (11/3, 11/24).  One of the reasons for the strong performances from the team’s bench has to be due to the regular shifting of the team’s starting lineup where eleven players have played in the starting five at least once this season.  Whereas numerous teams would struggle chemistry wise if a coach continuously tinkers with the lineup, in Dallas, it is the complete opposite as the team seems to thrive thanks to Rick Carlisle’s numerous roster shakeups.

It only goes to show the true winning culture that continues to stay with the team despite its recent hardships—that no matter who starts and comes off the bench, winning will always stay paramount over personal ambition. There is no room for “me first” players in Dallas—every Mavs player knows and understands his role on the team and how that may change with each passing game depending on who they face on any given night.  There is no favoritism nor is there any leaning towards playing veterans over younger players—everyone on that team has had a chance to contribute and thus prove themselves with each passing moment whether or not the coach decides to put them in the game.  Unlike most other teams in the NBA, being a starter does not necessarily guarantee that a player will play a huge load of minutes when it comes to the Mavericks and that is probably the reason why there are no problems in terms of players complaining about minutes.  Of the 15 man roster, 14 have averaged at least ten 10 minutes of playing time per game that they have played, with ten of them at least playing 20 minutes per game and only two players who play more than 30 minutes per game thus giving the Mavericks a well oil machine with flexible interchangeable parts capable of facing any challenges that come its way.

So far this December, it has been very smooth sailing for the Mavericks as they have been 4-2 thus far and have attained a .500 record with already a quarter of the season passed.  Despite their evident decline, Dallas has still managed to stay in striking distance of remaining in playoff contention.  The Mavericks currently rest on the eighth and last playoff spot just half a game behind the 7th place Minnesota Timberwolves and two and a half behind the Utah Jazz for sixth place.  Considering that a lot can change as the season progresses, the Mavs can still make a move to secure themselves a top five spot in the West and with Dirk Nowitzki coming to join them soon, confidence in Dallas’ chances of playoff contention continues to gather momentum.  Considering the fact that this is a team that is supposed to be heading in the opposite direction, that cannot be considered as “too shabby” to say the least.