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Dirk Nowitzki

Offseason, Strike 3: Dallas Mavericks Season Preview

Starting Five: PG Jose Calderon, SG Monta Ellis, SF Shawn Marion, PF Dirk Nowitzki, C Sam Dalembert
Key Bench Players: G/F Vince Carter, G/F Wayne Ellington, F Brandan Wright
Offseason Additions: Additions: Ellis, Calderon, Dalembert, PG Shane Larkin, G Ricky Ledo
Offseason Subtractions: SG Ovinton J’Anthony Mayo, C Chris Kaman, PG Darren Collison, PF Elton Brand
FACT OR FICTION: The Mavericks are a playoff team.
FACT, barely. Honest admission? I actually wrote “Fiction” before seeing that not only the MAMBINO aggregate has Cuban’s boys in the 8-slot, but your boy BK himself slid them in at 7.
But a closer look has made me realize that the West, by virtue of various reasons, has become very top heavy this year. Unlike years past, there isn’t going to be a solid 9-seed this season. Dallas will sneak by with guile, with heart, and under the tutelage of the most underrated coach in basketball: Alvy, a one-time contributor to the MAMBINO team.… Read more...

To rebound into a title contender, can the 2013-2014 Lakers follow the blueprint of the 2010-2011 Dallas Mavericks?

As tough as a postseason-less 2013 was on the Dallas Mavericks and their fans, just three years ago, having a high-seeded playoff team didn’t feel any better.
The 2010 Mavs were the latest disappointment in what felt like an endless string of them. Dallas was just four years removed from an epic playoff collapse against the Heat in the 2006 NBA Finals, and three years away from losing as a 67-wing number 1 seed to the 8-seed Golden State Warriors. The 2009-2010 Mavericks had recently reloaded the team, bringing on former All-Stars like Shawn Marion and Jason Kidd in addition to incumbent All-Stars Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry. They took a very good 55-27 record and a 2nd seed into the playoffs, but like their predecessors, were unceremoniously dismissed; this time it was a first round loss to the 7th seeded San Antonio Spurs in 6 games. Even as solid as their regular season was, the future didn’t look terribly bright for Dallas. The ghosts of their past playoff failures seemed to haunt the team every spring, which included an aging core of Nowitzki (31), Marion (31), Brendan Haywood (30), Terry (32) and Kidd (36). Suffice to say, the Mavs weren’t getting much younger. Not all was lost–after all, Dirk was still an All-Star, the team had a very good and very underrated coach in Rick Carlisle and an excellent owner that took annual financial losses to make sure his team had everything necessary to remain competitive. However, few expected that the team was close to having the makings of a championship core. 2010-2011 was supposed to be just another year in which the Mavericks were a potent squad, but ultimately an also-ran in the race for the chip.
But after a shrewd series of moves in the summer of 2010, and then into the season, the pieces for a championship contender had quietly fallen into place:
July 13, 2010: Traded Matt Carroll, Erick Dampier, Eduardo Najera and cash to the Charlotte Bobcats for Alexis Ajinca and Tyson Chandler. Signed Ian Mahinmi as a free agent.
September 27, 2010: Signed Brian Cardinal as a free agent.
January 24, 2011: Signed Peja Stojakovic as a free agent.
At the time, none of these moves were considering even close to resembling significant transactions. Chandler was coming off an injury-filled year in Charlotte, and even worse, was traded to the Mavericks for the mere price of Erick Dampier’s expiring deal. The prevailing sentiment that summer was that Dampier’s eight-figure contract would be a key asset in claiming another star to prop up Nowitzki. Though Chandler was considered an upgrade over Dampier’s rapidly degrading corpse, he wasn’t nearly the player that made him into a Defensive Player of the Year seasons later, and thus was thought of as a rather underwhelming acquisition considering the expectations. The pair of 33 year-olds in the Immortal Brian Cardinal and Peja Stojakovic were both on their way out of the league, and few thought they could continue to contribute.
By the end of June, it was clear that these acquisitions were more important than any Decision that had gone on in the summer of 2010. Chandler was the key, quarterbacking a stout defense that ranked as the league’s 8th most efficient per 100 possessions. Shouting out instructions from the paint, Tyson, as well as Marion and DeShawn Stevenson created a deceivingly tough inside-out D that bulldozed their way to a solid 57-win season and an eventual 4-2 victory over the Miami Heat in the Finals for the franchise’s first titl… Read more...

The Dirk Nowitzki Era is Over – Dallas Mavericks Season Preview

Starting Five: PG Darren Collison, SG OJ Mayo, SF Shawn Marion, PF Dirk Nowitzki, C Chris Kaman

Key Bench Players: PG Rodrigue Beaubois, SG Delonte West, SF Vince Carter, PF Elton Brand

Notable offseason additions:
SG OJ Mayo, PG Darren Collison, PF Elton Brand C Chris Kaman

Offseason subtractions: F Lamar Odom, C Brendan Haywood, C Ian Mahinmi, PG Jason Kidd, SG Jason Terry

The Dirk Nowitzki era is over.

For the loyal fans in North Texas, this isn’t just a tough pill to swallow – it’s like you’re cramming the entire water bottle down your throat. This past summer, Mavs owner Mark Cuban took a big giant Josh Hamilton swing for the fences, and completely whiffed on what seemed like a fastball down the pike. Dallas emptied their coffers and committed themselves for a mere shot to sign Dwight Howard, Deron Williams, or potentially both superstars in the 2012 offseason. For just an opportunity to do so with zero guarantee of success, Cuban purposely dismantled his 2011 NBA title team, allowing a reluctant Tyson Chandler to move on to the New York Knicks, Seth Green lookalike JJ Barea to depart for the Minnesota Timberwolves, and more recently Jason Terrry to the Boston Celtics. Dallas even went so far as to eat the remaining $21 million left on center Brendan Haywood’s contract, saving the money via the league’s amnesty provision, but ultimately having to let a serviceable NBA big man go for nothing. Haywood was just another casualty of Cuban’s big gamble.

Somehow, Joe Johnson, Billy King and a James Bond villain were able to keep Deron Williams in Brooklyn, while Dwight Howard unknowingly set into action a chain of events that would eventually lock him into a 2012-2013 contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. It seemed that the Dallas Mavericks had deconstructed another potential title team for nothing.

However, GM Donnie Nelson and Cuban picked up the pieces as best they could. With their remaining cap room, the Mavericks signed Chris Kaman, Elton Brand (an amnesty provision victim of Philadelphia) and OJ Mayo to one year, make-good deals in which the players could re-establish market value after poor 2011-2012 years. They also traded for reliable role players like Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones to fill out a roster that had lost Jason Kidd, Lamar Odom and Ian Mahinmi in the offseason. The most fascinating part of all these moves is that none of them prohibit the Mavericks from taking another high-risk, high-reward at-bat next summer, when Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, James Harden and Andrew Bynum will become free agents. The carrot here is that supposedly these prospective new Mavericks will come to Mark Cuban’s toyland to play under a fantastic ownership, a rabid and loyal fanbase, as well as with Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki. But I’m afraid that the last bullet point is a far oversold point.

Dirk Nowitzki is 34 years old, and will be 35 shortly before the NBA Finals conclude next June. He’s still an All-League player and arguably the most talented power forward in the NBA, still. However, Dirk is slowly creeping towards the end of his prime. He hasn’t missed many games the past two seasons, but it’s obvious that he’s becoming more and more limited by injury. 7-footers certainly age more gracefully than smaller players that are reliant on their athleticism, but other than Steve Nash and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, there have been few players more than halfway to senior citizenship that have still been considered NBA superstars capable of leadi… Read more...

White American NBA Player Power Rankings

(For an updated version, WITH a starting five, check out our new White American NBA Player Power Rankings here)

There are a lot of really good white players in the NBA. Obviously there is a far larger depth of really good black players, which maybe even enhances the appearance of how talented their fairer skinned co-workers are. Regardless, no one could possibly debate that Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, Manu Ginobili, Pau Gasol, Luis Scola and Andrew Bogut are amongst the very best the NBA has to offer. But what do all these guys have in common besides a lack of melatonin and an undoubted common love of The Wire? They’re all foreigners. I am counting Canada as a foreign country. They’re savages up there, you know.

A couple weeks ago, I was in attendance as YOUR…Los Angeles Lakers played the Utah Jazz in Staples Center. With MAMBINO correspondent Alvy to my right, we had engaged in our usual repartee of egregious over-reaction, merciless player heckling and general bile-filled negativity. It was glorious. In the middle of our conversation, we looked at the court and noticed that the Lakers’ on-floor squad was Steve Blakers at point, Jason Kapono at the other guard, Metta World Peace and Josh McRoberts at the forward spots and Pau Gasol holding down center. We laughed at the prospect of the 2011 Los Angeles Lakers looking more like the 1955 Minneapolis Lakers squad. It wasn’t that the team had a mostly white line-up on the floor; it was that most of them were American.

The most skilled white players in the league are either European or South American (Argentine, to be specific). End of discussion. For whatever reason, since the 1980’s America hasn’t been able to produce Caucasian ballers that are anything more than role-players or fringe All-Stars. The last wave of prolific white American NBA-ers came almost 30 years ago, when Kevin McHale, John Stockton and Larry Bird all played on the level of the best black players in the league.

So as always with Alvy, the Lakers thrust us into yet another sports minutiae discussion. This time, it was one of our favorite all-time questions: who currently are the top 5 best white AMERICAN players in the league?

In the past few years, the list was a pretty easy call – Brad Miller was always towards the top, or close to it, with Troy Murphy somewhere trailing. Raef LaFrentz, Keith van Horn and “White Chocolate” Jason Williams were perennial considerations for this prestigious top-5 list that absolutely no one took any value in.

However, the old generation has been overturned and a new set of set of rhythmically challenged pasty ballers have been crowned. Congratulations gentlemen, and welcome to the top 5.

1. Kevin Love

With a bullet. Not even a question at this point. Love has done something that no white American player has done since Larry Legend – be one of the best 10 to 15 players in the league. In 6 games in this young season, Love is averaging 25.7 ppg, 15 rpg, while shooting 48% from the floor, 77% from the stripe and a staggering 42% from behind the line. Even more amazing beyond the fact that a big man can so astutely shoot the three-ball from 30 feet out and still manages to lead the league in offensive rebounding (one of the most amazing stats I’ve ever heard of), is that he’s done this for a second year in a row after losing nearly 20 pounds. Love is probably the most unique player even in a league with LeBron, Dirk and Dwight. Him topping the White American NBA Player Power Rankings is a mere formality.

2. David Lee

David Lee’…