Who Will Start for the Mavericks?
That got Matt Moore and I thinking -- err, talking -- about the Maverick rotation. Our discussion (with a somewhat relevant Magic-Cavs vignette) is after the jump.
Matt Moore: I think this season, more than usual I suppose, you're going to see liquid starting rotations, fluidity born out of something more than injury-inspired desperation. So many teams are going to have options they can use against different teams, and the Mavs are up there (probably behind Raptors, only because San Antonio won't mess with what works).
Nelson had said earlier in the year that Damp would start, meaning the lineup would be Jason Kidd-Josh Howard-Shawn Marion-Dirk Nowitzki-Dampier. But if you're playing a team that gives them fits -- say, the Warriors -- couldn't you go with Kidd-Jason Terry-Howard-Marion-Dirk and have a better matchup?
Watching Howard work so much at the two will be interesting, along with a possible J.J. Barrea-Terry-Marion at the 1-2-3.
They really should have kept [center] Ryan Hollins.
Ziller: I'm not a huge Hollins fan, though at the price Minnesota got him (three years, $7 million) it certainly wouldn't have hurt. Marcin Gortat, though, would have been great with this lineup. A Gortat-Dirk-Marion frontline with Kidd and Howard or a defensive specialist in the backcourt ... that might have been the best defensive rebounding team of the decade. And I think Kidd could have gotten Gortat 10-12 easy points a night.
I'm concerned with three things for Dallas: offensive rebounding (after losing Brandon Bass and Hollins, they have none outside of Damp), foul drawing (none outside of Dirk), and perimeter defense (Dallas gave up 37% on threes last season, didn't limit threes as well as elite teams either). Like Phoenix, the offense should hum, and Dallas will be able to effectively control second-chance points with the right lineups. But the holes that exist are pretty gaping.
Moore: It's possible, though unlikely, that the move for Howard to the two could fix some of those issues. It gives them a longer perimeter defender with offensive ability, while adding a more rebound-capable small forward.
That small lineup of Kidd-Terry-Howard-Marion-Dirk features their best five players. Yet they can't run with that except in very particular situations because they'll be absolutely murdered on the glass.
I still have to remind myself that Orlando managed to add Vince Carter, keep Gortat AND add Bass. How is that sequence not greater than +Shaq - (Wallace+Pavlovic)?
Ziller: Because of the minus Hedo Turkoglu, minus Courtney Lee part. But I do think Cleveland and Orlando are neck and neck ... I rely on the greatness of LeBron when favoring the Cavs.
I think Dallas' small lineup would be fine on the defensive glass -- Dirk's great, Marion's fine at PF, Howard is solid, Kidd is extraterrestrial. The problem with the big lineup (Howard at the 2) is that guys like Chris Paul and Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook and Steve Nash and Aaron Brooks are going to murder you off the bounce. Kidd can't keep up with Derek Fisher, let alone the quicker PGs. And Howard isn't agile enough to stay in front of them either. So you almost have to swap in Barea or maybe Terry in those situations. Which is a huge downgrade.
You could say this about most teams, but it really sticks out here because of the age of the team. But if they lose Kidd (age 35) or Dirk (31) for a month, they are toast.
Moore: I have a distaste for Carter as much as the next moral human being but I look at the ability plus Hedo's deceptive age and the immaturity of Lee (though I love that kid) and still can't put them below Cleveland, with how much they are going to dominate the glass. They may not allow an offensive rebound that isn't a three-pointer for a month. And the top defensive efficiency team in the league added size and versatility.
Maybe that's one of the reasons the Mavericks are putting out that lineup versatility, to be able to combat smaller lineups. Terry-Howard-Marion-Dirk-Dampier gives you speed on the front end, ability in the middle and rebounding/size with the ability to run.
I've been thinking about this more and more. How flawed is it to try and make a move solely to combat a premier player who's going to beat you anyway? It's like trading for Raja Bell just to try and stop Kobe, when he's still going to score 40. No one's slowing down Parker and Paul; they're two of the fastest guys in the league. Maybe that illustrates something significant about Cavs vs. Magic as well. The Cavs seem to repeatedly try and add individual players to counter players on teams that beat them, while the Magic seem to try and create lineups that cause matchup problems.That's pretty much the story of the '08-09 playoffs.
Although I will say Cleveland's done a very small handful of things to provide themselves with some options. Being able to bring in Jamario Moon and slide LBJ to PF could be great for them.
Ziller: I love that we got through an 800-word discussion of the Mavs frontcourt without mentioning Drew Gooden or Tim Thomas. How the moderately mighty but basically mediocre have fallen!