Rival Report: Mavericks TV Broadcaster Mark Followill
By: Jim Eichenhofer,

March 22, 2010

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 7 p.m. Monday, we caught up with Mavericks television play-by-play broadcaster Mark Followill.

(L to R) Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson have provided a spark for the Mavericks, who have gone 16-6 through February and March including a 13-game win streak. The Mavericks have been one of the league's best teams following the All-Star break, sparked by the trade of Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood. What elements have the former Wizards players brought to the team that has helped Dallas play extremely well?
Followill: First and foremost I think they are just so happy to be in a winning situation that they have infused a tremendous positive vibe into the team. Butler provides a talented, dependable scorer who has been a go to guy in the fourth quarter in his career. His size and defensive ability are a plus too. Haywood gives the Mavs a big body who can catch, finish, block shots and rebound. Size is always valuable especially when its a guy who is really entering the prime of his career, keep in mind that often happens later with bigs. Stevenson is a good defender who adds a wont-back-down attitude to the team as well. What have been some of the perhaps underrated reasons behind the Mavericks' 13-game winning streak in February and March?
Followill: I'm not sure its underrated but I can't stress enough how important Jason Kidd was to it. His coach of the floor style helped ease the assimilation of the new faces into the lineup. He repeatedly made the big play for Dallas in crunch time, be it a clutch shot or a critical defensive play. His leadership was in a word, invaluable. Dallas has been vying with several clubs to earn at least the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference postseason field. How much importance are the Mavericks placing on earning that second seed?
Followill: Well Rick Carlisle has said its not just about the 2 seed but he'll tell you they're trying to make up ground on the Lakers. I think looking at the schedules and the gap and the time left in the season that it's a long shot. I think like any team in the West, realizing how competitive the conference is, they'll be gunning to get as high as they possibly can. Considering they lost to Denver in the playoffs last year, I think it would help the cause tremendously to have the second seed.

The Mavericks are striving to improve their positioning for the playoffs. They currently stand a half game behind Denver for the second seed in the West. Several impartial NBA analysts have begun listing the Mavericks as perhaps the biggest threat to the Lakers for Western Conference supremacy. During the playoffs, in which areas of the game will Dallas need to excel or improve in order to be a threat to reach the NBA Finals?
Followill: Theyll need to be more consistently defensively, improve their rebounding, and be committed to scoring in transition. Those areas have been aspects of the game where the Mavs have had very good stretches this year but they've also slipped in those areas at times and when they do its obvious they aren't the same team. Getting to the foul line more often would help too since they lead the league in FT percentage. Mavericks All-Star Dirk Nowitzki has been so good for so long that at times it's easy to take his accomplishments for granted. From your viewpoint, what's been the most overlooked aspect of his outstanding 2009-10?
Followill: I'll say his durability and toughness. He has missed a game and a half this year. He plays heavy minutes, carries the load most nights and does it playing through a lot of bumps and bruises that most dont know about. That doesn't just apply to this year, but throughout his career. Among players in the league with at least 10 years experience, only Andre Miller and Jason Terry have missed fewer games. The number is 32 games missed in 12 seasons for Dirk. Another All-Star, point guard Jason Kidd, looks like age (he will turn 37 the day after this Mavs-Hornets game) is not slowing him down at all this season. Did he do anything differently in preparation for this season conditioning-wise or in terms of rest?
Followill: Not playing international basketball like he did for Team USA in 2008 helped. After a 56-0 international record and two gold medals with Team USA I think he is done with that phase of his career so a summer off in that regard was very valuable. As his career has entered the later stages Kidd has also spoken of being more committed to better nutrition and at least some weight lifting every day (even if its just light work).

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