Rival Report: Mavericks TV play-by-play broadcaster Mark Followill
By: Jim Eichenhofer,

November 3, 2009

Throughout the 2009-10 regular season, will be interviewing writers from other NBA websites to obtain unique insights on the Hornets opposition, prior to home games at the New Orleans Arena.

With the Hornets hosting the Dallas Mavericks at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday on ESPN, we caught up with Mavericks TV play-by-play broadcaster Mark Followill.

Adding Shawn Marion to the roster was a key pickup for the Mavericks this offseason. Perhaps the biggest development of the Mavericks offseason was the addition of proven veterans Shawn Marion, Drew Gooden and Tim Thomas. During the Hornets-Mavericks playoff series of 2008, it appeared Dallas was in serious need of more depth. How do the Mavs foresee each of these players helping make them a better team?
Followill: The Mavs think Shawn Marion is a perfect complement to Jason Kidds open floor game. He runs the break, moves well without the ball and is the kind of player who will put himself in position to score easy baskets because of Kidds creative passing skills. On the defense side, the Mavs love Marions length and the versatility that will allow him to guard multiple positions. Drew Gooden gives the Mavs a big guy who can score and do it either around the basket or facing up and hitting mid-range jumpers. Once Tim Thomas is healthy, hopefully later this month, then the Mavs will look to him to stretch the floor with his three-point shooting and they feel he is a better post defender than most realize. Dallas All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki had one of the best years of his decorated career in 2008-09, then lost double-digit pounds during the summer months. What effect is he expecting that to have on his performance this season?
Followill: He told us during a pre-season broadcast that he expects it will help some with running the floor since the Mavs want to do more in transition this year. I'd say it can't help but keep him a least a little fresher over the grind of the season. Another potent scoring threat, Josh Howard, has been banged up and missed the opener last week. Although he's played small forward much of his career, he is expected to shift to shooting guard due to Marion's arrival. What impact might that have on Howard's game this season?
Followill: He told us last month that it wouldnt change much other than maybe getting the ball off cuts much more now than coming off screens. When he gets healthy, the Mavs just need Howard to play like he did against San Antonio last spring. If he can hit 3s in the mid-30's percentage-wise, get to the free throw line around five times a game (which he did in his All-Star year), and be a solid defender than the Mavs should be fine in that regard. The Hornets and Mavericks have won a similar number of games in each of the past two seasons and entered 2009-10 projected by many analysts to perhaps finish in the 4-7 seeding range of the West. What would Dallas need to accomplish for the Mavericks to deem this a successful season?
Followill: Well Rick Carlisle is the first to say that the bar is very high here, as in he sets the expectations at a championship. Thats quite clearly an incredible challenge in the tough Western Conference, particularly of course with the Lakers and Spurs and then taking down whatever very, very good team will come out of the East. Ive seen some predictions locally and nationally of reaching the conference finals and if they did I think that would be a heck of good run.

Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion shakes hands with students at a recent assembly at a Dallas elementary school. Within the past year, usage of social networking media has become widespread in the NBA. Who are the Mavericks' most entertaining and active players using Twitter or other platforms?
Followill: Dirk, Josh Howard, Shawn Marion, Drew Gooden, Jason Terry and Kris Humphries all have Twitter pages. By far the most active is Shawn Marion. He tweets daily, including his horoscope for the day. In your job as the TV voice of the Mavericks, you interact with the teams players frequently. Who is the best interviewee on the Dallas roster?
Followill: Great question. There are a lot of good ones like Jason Terry, Drew Gooden, James Singleton and Shawn Marion, but I gotta go with Dirk. He is open and honest in his assessment of things and in those rare opportunities to have him on our broadcast (did a whole quarter with him in a pre-season game), you really see his personality come through. He is an amazingly down-to-earth and funny guy. I'm very lucky to have been able to cover him for so many years in Dallas and the fans here are lucky to have a guy like him as the face of the franchise. What's one thing we might be surprised to know about the Mavericks?
Followill: The emphasis that the organization places on giving back to the community. The Mavericks are one of the most active NBA teams in terms of player appearances for local school and community initiatives. Several of the players have foundations that assist those deserving here in Dallas and that particular players hometown. It doesnt get talked about enough, but top to bottom I think this organization does a great job with that.

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