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Monday, January 28, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for December: 22. Dallas Mavericks

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of December 31st):  12-19, fourth Southwest Division

This Month:

Team Statistics and League Rank (as of December 31st)
  • Points Scored: 98.3 (11th)
  • Points Allowed: 103.1 (38th)
  • Team FG%: .446 (12th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .447 (17th)
  • Rebounds per game: 41.3 (21st)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 46.2 (30th)
  • Turnovers per game: 15.6 (27th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 15.3 (9th)

Individual Statistical Leaders (as of December 31st):

Worst Player of the Month:  Dirk Nowitzki

When he finally returned, it gave many in Dallas hope that somehow, Dirk Nowitzki will find a way to right the ship and bring the Mavericks back to their winning ways.  Unfortunately that has not happen as he has just played sparingly in the four games he has played thus far and has yet to make an impact.  Perhaps his play is reflective of the grim future Dallas will face in the coming months.  As with his teammates, Dirk can no longer be the catalyst that sparks victory for the Mavericks as he himself no longer has it in him to do so anymore.  With his age and the amount of time that he was out, do not expect either Nowitzki or his Mavs to reach the post season.
First Player of the Month:  Brandon Wright

He’ll probably never be better than he already is, but Brandon Wright has given the Mavericks a solid and consistent contributor off the bench.  The Mavs can always count of Wright to fully capitalize on the few minutes of playing time he receive whether it be on the offensive end with his regular four baskets per game or on the defensive with his shot blocking.  In every game he has played in December, Wright accumulated at least 2 points and one rebound while scoring in double figures in five of the 13 games he played in that month.  Whether he plays twenty minutes or just two, the Mavs can count on Wright to make a solid contribution and consistent effort no matter how much playing time or shot attempts he gets.  And considering Wright is getting just under a million for a year, the Mavericks have certainly got their money’s worth from him.  

The end has finally come and the Dallas Mavericks along with their fans have finally accepted the fact that they will not be returning to the post season and on the verge of a long rebuilding period.  Gone is the denial of owner Mark Cuban and team management that the Mavericks are headed to the rebuilding stage after 12 glorious years or playoff runs and NBA glory.  The anger of Mavericks fans have essentially died down after finishing last season so poorly with their team being humiliated in a four game first round sweep of the playoffs.  There has not been any talk of deals or bargaining to try and salvage this season in the hope that Dallas can push for one more playoff run. And finally, after a rather unnoticeable period of depression, the Mavericks and their fans have seemed to accept their predicament and are resigned to head for that long dark road together after so many years of joy and happiness.

This season has been more of a farewell tour than anything else as the players no longer have the delusion that they were the same team that won the NBA Championship two years ago and that it is time to call it a season.  There has not been the usual conflict among players or deterioration of chemistry which often happens when a team starts to fall off and head towards the bottom.  The Mavericks still remain a rather cohesive unit and are resigned to face the end in a valiant manner as a team.  They still play with the same effort and purpose, but the years have just been too long for this old and weary team who spent the past decade as one of the NBA's top tier teams.  The players have dropped all their invincible public personas and have accepted their fate fighting together in a war whose outcome has already been determined.

One can go as far as calling this season's performance by the Mavericks as noble as the players know that they face impending doom, yet still manage to continue fighting to the very end.  They started December rather strong winning four of their first five games; however, after a heart breaking loss on the road against another team that is heading to extinction in the Boston Celtics (12/12/2012), everything started to unravel.  The Mavs lost two straight getting blown out in Toronto (12/14/2012) followed by losing a hard fought game in overtime against the Minnesota Timberwolves (12/15/2012).  They managed to stop the bleeding temporarily with a home win against the Philadelphia 76ers (12/18/2012), but the feeling of victory was short and fleeting as Dallas would finish on a sour note losing their last six games.  As they enter they new year, itr has become quite apparent that the Dallas Mavericks will no longer be force that it once was.

Even the return of their hero, Dirk Nowitzki, was not enough to energize this moribund team as even he did not have it in him to carry the team as he once did.  His first games back showed how frail and weak he has become, and it is just a moment in time until he too fades away along with the memories of joy and glory that he has brought Mavericks fans for so many years.  It seems like it was an eternity since the Mavericks had been a downtrodden cellar dweller before mark Cuban arrived and turned a perennial loser into one of the most successful sports franchises in the last fifteen years.  Sure, in that period of time, they had only managed to reach the NBA Finals twice and just one NBA title--two things that probably will always remain painful sting for Cuban to this day.  Nonetheless, what he accomplished with the Mavericks can never be discounted and as they watch their team head off into the sunset, hoops fans in Dallas will always remember appreciate what he has done for their team and their city.

With their veterans on their way out with their expiring contacts, Dallas will be in a good position to return to prominence one day thanks to the massive cap space that their departures will leave behind.  Dallas also have a few pieces to build their future upon in the forms of young veterans OJ Mayo, Darren Collison, Rodrigue Beaubois, Dominque Jones and Brandon Wright along with a group of promising rookies in Jared Cunningham and Jae Crowder.  Unfortunately, to fully move forward, the Mavs' front office cannot just try to pull off a quick fix just to quickly return to the playoffs.  Even Mark Cuban, who has never been known as a gracious loser, has resigned to the fact that all the money in the world will not quickly resurrect the foundation that he had a hand in building.  It took him 13 years for him to build the team into a winner, and it may take almost as much time for them to return as a championship contender once again.