|2012-13 Team Rating|
|16th overall Overall||24th overall Overall|
Stats through Jan. 22
Started with a hole in the lineup when Dirk Nowitzki missed 27 games. Elton Brand, Chris Kaman, Shawn Marion, Jae Crowder and Dahntay Jones didn't make up for it. Dirk's return means better days.
O.J. Mayo has been a free agent steal, producing a solid first half. Point guard has been one guess after another from Darren Collison to Derek Fisher and now 37-year-old Mike James.
It's funny how the Mavs spent all those years trying to find a real defensive stopper in the middle and then let Tyson Chandler walk. They rank in the bottom third of the league and don't look to get much better.
There are times when Vince Carter can pop off the bench and look like the "Half-Man, Half-Amazing" days. Coach Rick Carlisle keeps juggling the rest in hope of finding a combination that will work.
Carlisle has ridden Mayo and Collison harder than a pair of rented mules because he’s needed them in Dirk's absence. Still one of the best, Carlisle's a good win streak from being in the playoff picture.
Yes, we do grade on a curve and it says that a team that had to play the first 27 games of the season without its 11-time All-Star and former MVP in Dirk simply cannot be expected to hang with the big dogs at the top of the highly contested Western Conference. The Mavs took the court every night trying to make up for that yawning, 25-point chasm and that often proved too daunting.
Of course, a lot of the pain was self-inflicted as owner Mark Cuban never gave the 2011 NBA champs a chance to defend their title a year ago, and then struck out in his bids for Dwight Howard and Deron Williams last summer.
The result is that after 11 consecutive seasons of 50 wins (which ended last year), a championship parade and a whole lot of fun, the Mavs finally hit the skids and gave their fans a first-half experience more akin to what is normal in Sacramento, Charlotte, Washington and New Orleans. To nobody's surprise, they don't like it.
Give the Mavs' brass credit. The signing of Mayo was a bullseye, they haven't yet pulled the plug entirely by selling off Marion or Carter, and now that Nowitzki is back in the lineup and should be steadily rounding into form, a second-half run for the playoffs isn't out of the question. If there's a big deal at the trade deadline to be made, the owner says: "the Bank of Cuban is open."
Then the pressure is on to reload next summer.
-- Fran Blinebury
Explanation of Marking System
|Golden State Warriors||B+|
|Los Angeles Clippers||A-|
|Los Angeles Lakers||C-|
|New Orleans Hornets||C-|
|New York Knicks||A-|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||A|
|Portland Trail Blazers||B-|
|San Antonio Spurs||B+|