Monday, March 24, 2008

Would the real Dallas Mavericks please step up?

I have seen the light. I have come around on the Kidd trade.

All season, the Mavs have been enigmatic. They would play well against the best teams, even winning on occasion, then they would lose to a lottery team. There was no rhyme or reason to it. Since Kidd got to town, all has come into focus.

So in a word, here are your 2008 Dallas Mavericks: eh.

Since Kidd's arrival, they are 0-8 against the best of the NBA. And they just completed a nice run against teams with worse records. So there you go. The Mavs are average.

OK, not average; they are still a very good team. If they were in the East, they would be in the top three for sure. But in the Wild, Wild West, very good isn't good enough. Very good might even get you a ping pong ball in the lottery, especially when your star player goes down to injury for a few weeks.

The truth is, the Mavs are the same team they have been since 2000, despite Avery's coaching and numerous trades: soft inside, jump shooters on the outside and below average defense. Cuban showed up for Sunday's game with an "Avery's team" shirt as a public show of reconciliation, but the fact is he hasn't provided Avery with the personnel that fit his system. And I'm with Avery on this one. His style wins championships, not jump shooters who don't play defense. Avery has his faults, but this isn't one of them.

This is not to say that this is Kidd's fault, only that his arrival coincides with the clarity. And he is symbolic of the Mavs' problems going forward: this team got old this year. And with no first round draft picks for the next two years, it's going to be hard to get younger. Not to mention that those might be some pretty good picks.

Reality check: the Mavs might miss the playoffs, and Dirk's injury doesn't help. And even if they do stay ahead of Denver, they don't have a chance against any of the top seeds in the West. I'm talking sweep.

This team and front office needs a wake up call. Over the next month, they'll get it.

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