NBA / Jan 5, 2010 / 9:00 am

The Mavericks have had their biggest weakness exposed

Josh Howard (photo. Monte Isom)

I’d presume every man who grew up with a father figure in his life had a significant chunk of his sports experiences shaped by that father figure. I played football because my Dad played, I wanted to wear #22 because he wore it, and today I still always root for Black coaches and Black quarterbacks thanks to my Dad’s influence.

Another thing I picked up from my Dad: The need for constant variety in sports. Pops hates it when the same teams contend for championships every year. “Mix it up” is one of his favorite phrases, so he likes it when Cincinnati and TCU threaten to crash the BCS bowl party, or the Orlando Magic upset the norm to make the NBA Finals over the boring old Celtics.

I’m kind of the same way, which could be why I’m prone to declare teams like the Hawks and Mavericks championship contenders (probably) too early into the season; if it’s November/December and we’ve accepted that only 3-4 teams will realistically vie for a ‘chip, it makes the regular season less interesting to me.

The Mavs especially looked like a premature prediction after Sunday’s debacle, where they got smoked by 30-plus against the Lakers. On a night where Ron Artest didn’t play, Pau Gasol left in the first quarter with a hamstring injury, and Kobe had a modest 15 points, the Lakers still dominated. Dallas’ defense made Jordan Farmar looked like Deron Williams and Lamar Odom look like Young Kevin Garnett, while DJ Mbenga traded his Shawn Bradley mask for a Dikembe Mutombo one.

Meanwhile, the Mavs couldn’t hit a shot, going 5-for-21 beyond the arc. And that’s where L.A. exposed what may be Dallas’ biggest weakness: They are a team full of jump shooters, like an Orlando Lite but without Dwight Howard in the middle or Vince Carter on the wing.

So it was written in Basketball 101: When thine jumper is not falling, get thee to the rim and dropeth easy buckets or draweth fouls.

When the Mavs get in trouble and their jumpers aren’t cooperating, who’s going to do that? Dirk Nowitzki is a shooter; Jason Terry is a shooter; Josh Howard is becoming more of a shooter as his ankles turn to construction paper; and Jason Kidd is a shooter who can’t shoot consistently. Shawn Marion lives on a diverse mix of offensive boards, quirky runners and alley-oops with some jumpers thrown in, but he’s never been a guy to create his own shot. J.J. Barea has the handle and quickness to get to the rim, but he’s 5-foot-4.

It’s a bit hasty to say a team that’s 23-11 and on top of its division needs to make any major trade deadline moves, but if the goal is to get past “50-something wins + second-round exit” — pretty much this franchise’s M.O. in the last decade — the Mavs should at least explore the possibility to getting a guy who can create his own shot and carry the offense through those times when Dirk’s jumper is off and the rest of the crew can’t hit.

(This wouldn’t be an issue had the Mavs taken the money they spent on Tim Thomas in free agency and used it on Flip Murray, but what’s done is done.)

One problem with trading, however, is Dallas doesn’t have a lot of trade bait they can afford to part with. Their only real expiring contracts are Drew Gooden (too important as Erick Dampier‘s backup), Shawne Williams (I can’t imagine too many teams want him) and Thomas (he only makes $1.3M in the first place). Some teams might be interested in an expendable piece like Barea, Kris Humphries or Matt Carroll, but if the Mavs really want to catch a big fish, they should get a gauge on Josh Howard’s value.

Howard (13.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg) is working his way back into regular form while coming off some injuries, but with Marion in the picture, Howard is playing out of position at two-guard. And honestly, Howard doesn’t seem as crucial to Rick Carlisle‘s system as he was during Avery Johnson‘s tenure, so if you can flip him for a player like, say, Corey Maggette who can drive and draw fouls (and make the free throws), it’s something to consider.

Do you think the Mavs should roll with what they have, or look to make a move?

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  • BRUCE

    Incompetence has brought more incompetence!

  • Patrick

    Dirk can operate from the mid and low post. They will be alright. Pretty sure the addition of Flip Murray wouldn’t have helped at all in the Laker game. I think you actually just described that they need Ty Lawson, TJ Ford or Corey Maggette.

  • Roman

    Same old story from the Mavs.

  • Keith

    I know CP3 and Deron are gonna be the point guard feud of the next decade, but a little more love for Rose-Westbrook? Both guys came out the same year in the draft, both playing for young teams looking to prove something. Westbrook gave Rose the business last night. yeah i’m a Thunder fan, but going into Rose’s gym and getting the W? No love?

  • Dagomar

    When I read “Dirk is a shooter” I thought to myself that actually I’d seem him get points in the paint on many occasions in the past few years. So I quickly checked his stats: yup, over 7 FTA per game. Meanwhile, in just 26 MPG Josh Howard still gets more than 4 FTA per game; expect that to go up as he recovers from injury. I’m not saying the Mavs aren’t a jump shooting team – I just don’t think it’s as big a problem as Austin implies.

  • dagwaller

    Now, this might just be because I have Josh Howard on my fantasy team, but as soon as you started saying “too many shooters”, I immediately thought to trade Howard. (In real life). Of course, most real GMs won’t just bite on a trade after one good game, will they? Oh wait, Chris Wallace is still around. Tell Cuban to call up Memphis.

  • http://twitter.com/PoppiGEE POPPI GEE

    Good read AB, and I am like ya pops, I like when it’s mixed up too.

    Never really thought about them having no one to go to the rim, but it’s so true, they most def. have to make a move cause this is only going to get them so far.

    Hasn’t been a lot of trades so far. I was hoping for more along the trade front before now and the deadline. A lot of teams can’t be satisfied with what they have surely?

  • http://twitter.com/PoppiGEE POPPI GEE

    “So it was written in Basketball 101: When thine jumper is not falling, get thee to the rim and dropeth easy buckets or draweth fouls.”

    You should do a piece with more rules from Basketball 101

    For some reason I hear Dave Chappelle reading it.

    Didn’t say something about “He that smoketh a rock” or something as Tyrone Biggums lol?

  • karizmatic

    The Mavs should have mad a move about two years ago, at this point they should just declare to the league that any player on their roster not named Dirk is tradeable, and see what offers they can get on a guy who can attack the basket and creat their own shot. BTW Flip Murray would not have solved their problems, they need a better calibur player than him.

  • BiG ShoT BoB

    Maybe trade Josh for McGrady?

  • Mark

    Big shot: I doubt McGrady would help the Mavs in that department.

  • sh!tfaced

    Mavs might need to take a look at “the always available for trade” TJ Ford and give him a shot.

  • freez

    PLEASE take Maggette ‘bad porn’ away from the Ws. Dumb franchise gives $10mill for a 6th man

  • me

    doesn’t that bball 101 also say that “for any team for whom TJ Ford and/or Corey Maggette is an answer to your problem, your franchise is in deep Sh!t”?

  • http://uoregon.edu sans

    Bad Porn for Hel Yeah I Smoke Weed and Fuck the Pledge of Alleigance I”m Black makes perfect sense…in fact the two of them should form a society for raping and pillaging…maybe pillaging then raping, If you rape first you miss out on all the good ish thats there for the pillage.

  • Derod Hafford

    I have been wanting maggette in dallas for the last 2 years. too bad cuban’s basketball IQ is about as obsolete as an 8 track tape