Saturday, March 15, 2008
The New-look Mavericks: What we know
There's something to be said for judging a product that's far from finished. Which is why although I staunchly opposed to the Jason Kidd trade from the moment I first heard about it, I was willing to keep a semi-open mind on it. I wouldn't oppose the trade on principle as I did the Joey Galloway trade (trading two first round picks to add a receiver to a mediocre team= absolutely asinine. every time). Kidd's numbers are incredible, his league-wide praise is awe-inspiring. There was plenty of reason to believe that the trade would make the Mavericks better, and for that I did not feel compelled to vow against ever watching the Mavs play again.
Dateline: Right freaking now. The sample size we've been granted is sufficient to make a reasonable analysis of what old Kidd has infused into this ballclub. They've played the elite teams, competed with the pushovers, gone on a lengthy road trip and played successive games at home. What can we draw from what we've seen?
For one, this team's more motivated than it was before the deal. Dirk's driving to the hole a lot more and it doesn't have as much to do with Kidd giving him the ball at opportune places and times as it does with Dirk realizing that the clock is ticking. Damp has lost all traces of David Lafleur Hands syndrome. The games they seemed to resign to losing before the clock started? They seem to have been left behind.
In addition, there's no question that this team is better at distributing the ball than it used to be. The difference is pronounced; they're unrecognizable from the squad that we had seen since the departure of Nash. Dirk's playing with passion, but that's not all it is. He's getting good looks. Stack, a guy who will take a shot whether It's a good idea or not, is getting more good shots with the decision made for him. Brandon Bass has become a very legitimate 7th man.
However, the good comes with plenty of detriments. The Mavericks have yet to beat a really good team since the trade. One can say that the games have, for the most part been close. That's true. One can say that they have mostly been on the road. Also a fact. However, the fact remains that close isn't good enough, and as things stand right now this team would play more games Away than at Home. Their defense has slipped. Kidd's unable to keep up with the elite point guards of the West and isn't quite as good at defending the playmaking 2 as we'd heard from his proponents. His ability to make quick and brilliant decisions in facilitating shots is breathtaking; his lack of judgment in taking shots of his own can be appalling. The rebounding hasn't been what we anticipated.
This team has played in every setting, and the polarities they've encountered make evaluation difficult. The one mathchup I thought would be especially telling (vs. the streaking Rockets) was marred by the Dirk suspension. They had several chances for statement games and barely blew it (The Lakers come to the forefront). Am I less violently opposed to this trade than I am dissapointed? Yes. That's an improvement from my stance of weeks ago. We'll have to wait and see what is forthcoming from this squad; because as much as I thought at this point we'd have something to either hang our hats with pride or heads with shame with, It's premature. Let's give it a while.