For this edition of The Questionable Blogger, we head to Dallas, the Big D, land of big steaks and bigger hair. I sent some questions to andytobo of the SBNation Mavericks blog, Mavs Moneyball and his answers are below. The Clippers and the Mavericks have both been through a recent rough patch, and they're currently battling each other for playoff positioning. What does Andy think of the recent struggles, of Lamar Odom, of Ben Bernanke? Find out after the jump (except the Bernanke thing).
Clips Nation: Like the Clippers, the Mavericks recently went through a stretch of games where they were playing poorly (Dallas lost 8 of 10 at one point), and then bounced back (they've since won 7 of 10). I'm somewhat at a loss to explain it in the Clippers case, other than to say "Lockout season, lots of games, they were tired" or something equally simplistic. Do you have an explanation for the bad stretch in the Mavs case, or is this just how it is for most teams in this post-lockout season?
Mavs Moneyball: You know, I think the Mavs have two major problems. The first is the lockout and compressed schedule. They never got into shape and are now exhausted, despite a great effort to avoid playing anybody too many minutes. Since they're a jump-shooting team, they rely on rhythm and movement more than most teams, and they're having trouble with either. Besides that though, I think they've just lost important guys on both ends of the floor and don't have the personnel to compensate. They still have the will to wiin, the moxy to do it, and the execution to pull it off. But the strength isn't there. The one thing I will say is that the Mavs are sort of uniquely positioned to be bad against really bad teams, because those are usually full of young athletes who have more hustle and pluck than smarts. We hope the real Mavs haven't arrived, and with Delonte and Hay back, we now get to see.
CN: Lamar Odom. Wow. After shooting career highs from the field and from deep last season with the Lakers, he's at a career low shooting this year (by like, a mile). He's even shooting a career low from the line. Among NBA players who have played at least 900 minutes, he's got the worst true shooting percentage in the league. The Odom-watch has been going on all season, and he had a couple of decent games recently, but what are the realistic expectations for him after more than 50 games of this? Is there a reasonable hope that he'll snap out of it in the playoffs, or does he just need to drop out of the rotation?
MM: I don't have any problem playing Lamar. The thing is, the Mavs are getting crushed on the boards and are often overwhelmed defensively, two things Lamar can do even if he never hits a shot. We're going to find out--and it's going to determine what happens to the Mavs this season--whether 50 games of monitored minutes can get a team that shouldn't be able to compete in this grind READY to compete in this grind and I don't think that applies less to LO than anyone else. Even Dirk is alternating 70% shooting games with 30% shooting games and sometimes from half to half. Obviously he's been bad. Do I still think he can score 10 points, grab 7 boards and dish 3 or 4 assists somewhat consistently before it's all over? Sure, I do. Would I feel worse about him if I thought they had anyone else to replace him? Probably. But Brian Cardinal can't even hit threes, this year.
CN: Towards the end of his rookie season and into the playoffs, Rodrique Beaubois was on a tear. In March 2010, he averaged almost 26 points per 36 minutes, while shooting the lights out from the field and from deep. Then he broke his foot in the off-season, and he hasn't been the same player since. He's been back in the rotation this season, but his shooting in particular is nowhere near the level it was when he was a rookie. So did the foot injury and subsequent surgeries diminish him as a player, or were the rookie numbers simply unsustainable? What does Beaubois bring to the table at this point?
MM: It's so hard to say what's going on with Roddy. Some games he's dominant for stretches and some games he's invisible the whole time. It might come down to exactly what you're saying, which is his shooting. He's taking a lot of long twos, which is the worst shot in the game for everyone not named Dirk. I'd love to see him completely cut out the middle of his game, go back to threes and layups exclusively. He still has that speed and the shot still LOOKS good. But it's really hard to project him as an impact player, going forward. He still hasn't solved it.
CN: I'm fascinated by the high wire act going on in Dallas with the present and future of the team: legitimately trying to defend an NBA championship, while at the same time clearing the decks salary-wise to make a run at major free agents this summer. But the dream plan, signing Dwight Howard and Deron Williams, is now off the table with Howard locked up in Orlando another year. So what is plan B? In the new best case scenario, who do you see starting alongside Nowitzki and Williams in Big D next year?
MM: You know, had it been me, I would have re-signed everybody and embraced really sucking three or four years from now. I feel pretty comfortable saying that the middle ground of the NBA is a graveyard where the draft picks aren't good enough to get better, and the future prospects aren't better enough to attract FAs. Being great then terrible is actually pretty sound strategy. That being said: I think the Mavs have an excellent shot to sign D-Williams. Since the Nets don't have Howard, and no one can imagine what's going on in Howard's mind, they can offer D-Will more money and more years to stay on a team that he obviously is not feeling, while taking a huge risk that sometime in his prime things will get a lot better. On the other hand, since the Nets were one of the terrible teams to beat Dallas during their stretch of losing to the NBA's basement, I wouldn't be surprised if he'd rather take his chances with Brook Lopez, or with LaMarcus Aldridge, or anyone who doesn't look a million years old, either.
I fully expect the Mavs will move heaven and Earth to sign him if they can. But I also know that Mark Cuban believes that it is the year after next that cap space is REALLY going to be king, since that's when the full penalties kick in. Cuban may have to decide between giving Deron some team with some hope, and not leaving room for Dwight, and holding his powder yet again which would obviously drive Mavs fans completely insane. I expect, if they get Deron, they'll keep Roddy and Wright on cheap deals, they'll see what Terry wants for how long, but I doubt it, they might get Kidd for a one year, they'll let Marion play another year before trying to trade him and just see what else they can add.