Are You Ready For Some Basketball?

Dallas Mavericks basketball, that is. I am so ready for basketball to start and to be able to see the new Mavericks lineup and roster they have designed. I know, a lot of people are cringing at the thought of the Mavs hitting the court without their floor general Jason Kidd and the ever present Jason “the Jet” Terry to arouse the crowd, but I am kind of excited to see what the new look will bring.

There have been so many grumbles from the media, the fans and looking at the posts on facebook, twitter and such of how Mark  Cuban and Donnie Nelson have let the 2011 Championship team implode and the only 2 remaining is Dirk and Shawn Marion, well a lot of that wasn’t their doing. I know that there might have been something they could have possibly done last off-season and maybe ever this off-season, but when you try to keep up with teams that are younger and quicker, you unfortunately have to make the tough decisions no one else wants to make.

Last off-season, was such a farce with the lock-out and the players and management could not talk for some time and then when they could, I think decisions were made in a rush to alleviate for time. Which meant that we lost Tyson Chandler, JJ Barea, Caron Butler and Deshawn Stevenson to mention a few. Chandler wanted more money, which stands to reason since he was the driving force for the defense that Dallas had now brought to the forefront of their game, Barea would need more money to stay and that also stands to reason since his previous season was by far his best, Butler, well even though he didn’t play all season, we all knew what he could bring to the table and Stevenson was a fierce competitor on the defensive end of the court as well as a knockout 3 point shooter.

Now what all that brings is more money in demand for players that helped get you what you now have, a championship ring, which I’m sure that Cuban would not have any problem spending in order to try and make a run at another, but the problem was the new CBA. It would limit Dallas on what they could do for the future and also meant more luxury tax penalties that Cuban would have to endure. So what do you do? You have to make the necessary decisions that are best for your organization as well as your pocketbook and your fans.

The Mavs organization let the 4 free agents go to other teams and hoped that they made the right decision and in their place they brought in players they thought would help fill the gap for the time being and that time being a shortened season that was, let’s say, not one of the best of the Mavericks seasons, but not all was lost.

What was lost though appeared to be the drive and determination of some of the players, especially their leader and face of the franchise. With the lockout going on as it did, a lot of the players didn’t work as hard as they had in the past and you could tell that since they won the Championship they had what appeared a hangover of celebratory mood hanging in their midst.

No one admitted that more than Dirk Nowitzki. Here he is the face of the franchise, the leader of the team, the biggest gym rat in NBA history and he himself admitted that he had not done his usual regimen of work out during the off season. He had just finished the season in June, played for Germany on the National Team to try and get a spot for the Olympics again and then the lockout, he just wanted to take some time off and he did, maybe too long and then poof, there you have the lockout and then wham, the start of training camp and then bam, the start of the season, and their lack of training showed right from the get go.

We saw them celebrate with a night of champagne in Miami in June, a parade in Dallas after that, the ESPY’S after that and then opening night in December to raise the banner only to be smeared all over the court by the team they just demolished earlier in the year. But this was a different team, not just because of the missing players, but because of the drive, the eye of the tiger; it was gone from the eyes of some of the players and you still have to have the drive if you want to accomplish that same task again, but Dallas didn’t have it.

The first part of the season just showed how much they lacked in their drive, so much so that Dirk had to take a break to put himself into a crammed mini-camp to get back his season form of play only for Sir Charles Barkley to go on and on about how Dirk was done, blah, blah, blah.

Well, Sir Charles, as you can see Dirk was not and is not done. After he returned from his crash camp, he picked his game back up and even though his numbers for the overall season were down, he finished strong, just not strong enough to help pull Dallas from the seeding they were in within the Western Conference and then they faced one of the hottest, young teams in the NBA in the first round, but then again, the Western Conference has always been the toughest to play in.

But if you look at not only Dirk’s numbers and stats, but Dallas’ as a whole, from this past season comparing to the previous season, they are not that far off, it’s just that other teams had to step up and we didn’t step up as much and there were many distractions that were not a part of the team of past. When Dallas finished their 4 game playoff with Oklahoma City, their numbers definitely dropped against a formidable opponent, but when you shoot 40.4% to 46.7%, those are not good odds, the biggest difference was the blocking which Dallas averaged 3.5 blocks per game to OKC’s 7.25 blocks per game and the point differential, 93.3 points per game to 99.8, again not good odds.

Overall for the season, Dallas’ numbers weren’t that bad, connecting on 44.3% of their field goals while only allowing their opponents to connect on43.5%. The three point shooting wasn’t that far off either, Dallas shot 33.9% to allowing their foes to connect on 34.6% and averaging 77.1% on their free throws while their opponents only connected on 75% of theirs.

So we might ask ourselves, what went wrong? Well, we celebrated too much because every time a previous player came to town, it was another ring ceremony, so when you add that up and their lack of the desire to win again, well that about put it all together.

However, getting back to Dirk and Barkley’s notion that he was done. Well look at Dirk’s numbers from just the 2010-2011 season to the 2011-2012 season. In the 2010-2011 regular season, Dirk played in 73 games averaging 34.3 minutes per game and his field goal percentage was 51.7%, 3 point shooting was 39.3% and free throws was at 89.2%, not bad numbers; he averaged 7 rebounds per game and 23 points per game. He played a total of 2,504 minutes for the season and scored 1,681 points; now these are just the regular season numbers.

Now for the playoffs, Dirk played 21 games where he averaged 39.3 minutes per game shot 48.5% on his field goals, shot 46% from the 3 point line and connected on 94.1% of his free throws; averaged 8 rebounds per game and averaged 27.7 points per game; he played 826 minutes and scored 582 points, now this is in 21 games which included the Finals. If we look at this past season, just the regular season, Dirk played in 62 games averaging 33.5 minutes per game, shot 45.7% on field goals, connected on 36.8% of his 3 point attempts and shot 89.6% from the free throw line, averaged 6.7 rebounds per game and 21.6 points per game. He played a total of 2,079 minutes for the season and scored 1,342 points for the season.

So if one were to compare from one season to the next, yes some of his numbers were down, but he also had a very sluggish start, but after his mini crash training camp, he kicked it into high gear because if you look at last season, he only played a little under 500 minuts less than the season before and only scored 339 less and that was in 11 less games, so I guess you could say that he is definitely in decline; whatever! I don’t think so.

Dirk has been waiting 14 years for the Mavericks to go to Europe and play in the Euro games as a way to honor the NBA and show what they have and he finally got his wish. The Dallas Mavericks will play Dirk’s friends in Berlin on Saturday before embarking on a journey to take on the Spanish team in Barcelona, but this will truly be an honor for Dirk before they come home to finish training camp and get ready for the real pre-season to start on the 15th of October. Dallas will start their season against the Los Angeles Lakers who have made over their roster with the additions of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard before they have their home opener against the Charlotte Bobcats on November 3rd.

One might ask, where do we go from here. Well we can only hope that the revamped roster with the youth and the veterans is a good mix and we can be in the talk again of winning another title. We can always have faith.

So with that, I will bid you a good night and say good luck and let’s go Mavs!

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