|11th Overall||9th Overall|
Statistics through 1/20/10
PF Dirk Nowitzki (25.5 ppg, 7.9 rpg) is still one of the best in the game. SF Shawn Marion (11.6, 6.5 ppg) is getting it done defensively and C Erick Dampier (8.8 rpg) has been solid.
PG Jason Kidd (8.9, 9.2) orchestrates as good as anyone out there. Injuries have hampered SG Josh Howard, and the position has been a revolving door.
Even with a drop-off this month, huge strides have been made here. Among top 10 in field-goal percentage, rebounding and blocks. Marion brought needed versatility.
Production from G Jason Terry (16.5 ppg, 43.3 FG%) has fallen since winning Sixth Man award. F/C Drew Gooden has provided depth down low and G J.J. Barea is back in familiar role backing up Kidd.
In Year two, Rick Carlisle has settled in and his system is in place. He's worked around injuries and doesn't hesitate to mix-and-match. Kept solid group of assistants, led by Dwane Casey and Terry Stotts, in place.
Mark Cuban and other insiders came into the season insisting this was possibly the most talented Mavs team ever. While that remains to be seen, the improvement over last season is obvious. The Southwest Division leaders have spent most of the season where they are now, second to the Lakers in the West. Dallas also has the easiest finishing schedule of any team in the conference.
Nowitzki is having another All-MVP caliber season, though he's had to carry the team more often than even he's wanted. Marion is finding his way with his fourth team in three years, but the match appears solid. Kidd is Kidd and Gooden, despite questionable shot selection at times, has been solid in whatever role he plays. Mavs also tough in crunch time, going 11-4 in games decided by five or less points. Nine-game winning streak in one-point games is tied for second longest in NBA history.
Though the Mavs sit in an enviable spot, don't be surprised if Cuban makes a move. A minor deal earlier this month (Eduardo Najera) opened up a roster spot and freed up some cash. With Howard and Dampier on basically expiring deals, Dallas is positioned to make a major splash if the right deal is out there.
-- Art Garcia
Explanation of Marking System