The 2012 Dallas Mavericks: 33 Storylines from 33 Games

A (Wait, It's Already Midseason?) Midseason Report

The 2012 Dallas Mavericks: 33 Storylines from 33 Games
Mark Poutenis

Thanks to a lengthy lockout, an abbreviated schedule and the apparently very confusing revelation that Asian-Americans play basketball, the NBA season is spiraling into chaos. The unrelenting schedules of 30 teams have sent the plodding progression of a typical 82-game season into a frenzied 66-game sprint, and right in the middle of it are your World Champion Dallas Mavericks, who two months after starting their title defense are halfway through their regular season. If you've blinked since Christmas, you've probably missed a game. Hopefully it was against the Raptors.

There's so much coming so fast that it's almost impossible to keep up with all the storylines, strategy and basketball intrigue. That's why we're here — to get you up to speed with 33 observations from 33 games, almost none of which have anything to do with Linsanity. Almost.

1 The Mavericks are Really, Really Weird. This is, first and foremost, a profoundly weird team. That's what you get when an entire roster of players is assembled to complement one of the league's most unorthodox stars. Dirk Nowitzki is Dallas' Rosetta Stone — every bit as valuable in translating his teammates' talents into a common language, and every bit as rare.

Mark Poutenis
Mark Poutenis

It's no surprise, then, that the Mavs looked so disjointed during Nowitzki's early-season struggles, nor is it a surprise that things are trending upward now that he is looking more like his goofy German self.


2 Never Mind the Standings. Even with their recent upswing in mind, the Mavs still aren't considered a legit title contender. But they have decent positioning within the glut of Western Conference playoff teams, a crop so deep and competitive that projecting how the West will unfold is a waste of time and chalk. The sheer number of dangerous teams in the playoff picture — San Antonio, Denver, Portland, both L.A. teams, Memphis, Houston and Minnesota — holds the potential to scramble any playoff run mid-stride. All the Mavs can do is keep improving and hope they're in the right place in their progression at the right time. For the second year in a row. With an entirely different team. That's not too much to ask, is it?


3 Rick Carlisle is the Best Coach in the League. Or one of them, anyway. The days of Mavs fans calling for his job are long gone, as Carlisle has now won a title and, maybe more impressively, recreated his championship formula with a completely different group of players. The roster turnover he inherited this year was astounding, and yet the Mavs aren't sitting that differently than they were a year ago. Statistically, the defense is actually better, and the added depth introduces some interesting wrinkles to the offense. That's not to say that a title is easily within the Mavs' grasp — it's just not — but Carlisle has done a phenomenal job of adjusting and integrating to keep his team in the hunt.


4 This Still isn't a Good Basketball Town. Never has been, never will be. So soak it in, Maverick faithful; the post-championship glow still hasn't worn off, and this may be the most hoop-centric this city will be for a long time.


5 It Gets Better. And By It, We Mean Brendan Haywood. There was a point early this season when every pass to Brendan Haywood was met with a collective eye-roll. Haywood is easily the most uncoordinated Maverick, yet Jason Kidd and his fellow guards routinely saw fit to rocket him passes he wouldn't be able to handle or set him up on fast breaks that would result in traveling calls that needed circus-music accompaniment. Yet over the last month or so, their confidence in Haywood has paid off. He's finishing dunks, he's cutting to the front of the rim, he's slowly filtering the tentativeness out of his game — and it's all because the Mavs guards kept going to Haywood despite those groans from the crowd.


6 No Fair, We Burned Our D-Fence Sign! Former Mavs assistant coach Dwane Casey — the architect of last year's defense — is gone, as is Tyson Chandler. Yet in defiance of logic and expectation, the Mavs rank fourth in the league in defensive efficiency.


7 Speaking of Stats ... While Brandan Wright is on the floor, 7.2 percent of the opposing team's shots end up on the receiving end of one of Wright's vicious swats.


8 Rodrigue Beaubois is Hosed. Beaubois has seen his opportunities come and go this season, as injuries to Kidd and Vince Carter temporarily meant regular minutes. But now that the Mavs are helthy again, Beaubois can't carve out much space for himself. Kidd, Jason Terry, Carter and Delonte West are soaking up the lion's share of minutes at both guard positions, leaving Beaubois with little time to get in the game and establish that ever-elusive consistency. He's in a tough place; when Beaubois is rolling, he can be a great offensive asset. But the Mavs simply have too many effective guards to live with Beaubois when he isn't rolling.


9 Oh My God Did You Hear Jeremy Lin Could Have Been a Mav?


10 Jason Terry and Ian Mahinmi Make Beautiful Music. The pick-and-roll chemistry between Terry and Mahinmi has been oddly phenomenal. They each manage the sequence beautifully, despite having run it no more than a handful of times before this season. It starts with Terry, who, as a constant pull-up threat, demands attention from defenders. That allows Mahinmi a vital window on his roll to the rim, as opponents, preoccupied with containing Terry, leave the center with a precious opening. Terry has been able to hit his mark reliably, and Mahinmi seems to be able to catch any pass in traffic with ease. From there, the play reaches its simple — though certainly impressive — conclusion: Mahinmi rises, hangs and finishes, whether by powerful dunk or contorting lay-in.


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9 comments
Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

Nice looksie at the little Mavs. Bob or Tone should pimp it on Unfair Park..I found it on the national list.

Darrylrs
Darrylrs

helthy? in #8? editor, please?

spell check
spell check

#9...Here? Seriously? Does anyone edit these things?

Mavwreck
Mavwreck

Take it easy on Rob M's spelling, will ya?

Someone's gotta step up and do some sports in the next few months!

Joe Tone
Joe Tone

An editor, a copy editor and a proofreader, in fact. We all suck. It's fixed. My self-esteem will take a while longer to put back together.

Mervis
Mervis

But now that the Mavs are helthy again, Beaubois can't carve out much space for himself.

 
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