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April 10, 2012
Does one bad prediction deserve another? You bet it does!
Posted 2/14/12 12:35 pm (Written 2/10 but posted 2/14 due to technical difficulties with website)

With my Super Bowl prediction going up in flames embarrassingly, more on that later, I thought it was the perfect time to continue making predictions. To the Super Bowl I would like to say that I was under the assumption that Rob Gronkowski would be close to 100% for the game (he had 2 weeks to rest and came back into the game the original injury occurred so I was pretty shocked how he was limping around the entire time. If you told me Gronk would be at the 50% or so he was during the game then I would have changed my prediction from a 10 pt Patriots win to a 2-3 pt Patriots win, yet of course that prediction would have been wrong as well so I digress. All I can say is that Wes Welker is one of the most sure handed receivers in the NFL and if he makes that catch late in the 4th quarter it would have set the Patriots up around the 20 yard line with 3:30 minutes left with a 2 point lead and 1st and 10. I doubt the Patriots somehow lose the game in that situation. I also would like to point out that I’ve never seen a Super Bowl where 3 forced fumbles were as irrelevant as the 3 were in that game as 1 was reversed due to 12 men on the field and the other two were recovered by the Giants. Numerous articles have proven that fumbles being recovered by one team or the other is purely chance and over a long enough time frame always goes back to around 50% so essentially the Giants won a coin flip three times in the biggest game of the year. Congratulations to the Giants and to Eli Manning for again being clutch in the 4th quarter but I still saw the game as the Patriots having a few uncharacteristic drops (2 just on the final drive), a technically correct but never called penalty (safety on Patriots first offensive play of the game), and 3 fumbles not go their way to lose a close game late. The Giants had nearly every “chance” play go their way and only won by 4 pts which continues to prove to me that the Patriots were the superior team. But hey if you disagree just call me stubborn. You won’t be the first person who has.

On to my next bold prediction. I was going to predict this about 10 days ago yet was too busy to write it and then the Mavs went on a 3 game losing streak that made me pause and reflect on my original prediction. Yet after watching Dirk’s past 3 games, he’s back!, and seeing the most recent example in the on the road drubbing of a very underrated Nuggets team I am once again confident and ready to make my prediction. The Dallas Mavericks are going to return to the NBA Finals in a rematch with the Miami Heat. I’ve watched a lot of basketball the past 3 weeks and have seen far too much poor play from the Spurs, Nuggets, and Grizzlies to make me think they have any chance of beating the Mavs in a 7 game series. I’ve also seen the recent injury to Chauncey Billups which further hurts that thin roster and seen how dominant Kobe and Bynum have been early in the season yet are barely clinging to a playoff berth right now due to their league worst bench and horrible PG and SF play (seriously go watch Metta World Peace or Derek Fisher and tell me they shouldn’t retire). That leaves the only true challenger to the Mavs as the Thunder and after watching all three of their games I can tell you that they are extremely beatable. The Thunder have a 2-1 record vs. the Mavs yet have yet to play the Mavs with a healthy and consistent Dirk AND will be facing a very different Mavs team by the end of the season as Carlisle is giving ample rest to all of his players and should have one of the freshest rosters in the league come playoff time. Anyone who has watched the Mavs the past couple of weeks should be seeing a few things that gets them excited. First is that Dirk is officially back as he is averaging 26.3 pts 8 reb 2.6 ast 1 blk on 62% FG in his past 3 games. He looks to be moving faster, is confident, and has his shot working again thanks to the recent visit by long time trainer Holger Geschwindner. Having our best player and closer back changes everything going forward. Second is that Vince Carter is really starting to get into a flow and has quietly become the best 3rd option on offense that the Mavs have ever had. He’s only averaging 11 points per game (ppg) but is doing it on career high efficiencies with 46% FG and a gaudy 45% 3pt% (12th in the league). Not only that but the biggest issue I had with the Mavs not resigning JJ Barea was the fact that he, Dirk, and Terry were the only players who could consistently get their own shot. Now we have Carter replacing Barea at SG and he’s doing a superior job not just defensively, where Barea for all his charges taken still was routinely abused but offensively. Barea last year averaged fewer points (9.5 vs. 11) and rebounds (2.0 vs. 2.9) than Carter in a much less efficient fashion (44% FG vs. 46% and 35% 3 pt vs. 45%). They do it in extremely different fashion but Carter hasn’t just replaced Barea as the #3 scorer on this team, he’s improved the position for the Mavs. Finally we get to the #3 reason which to me is the most surprising and also the biggest reason why I think the Mavs will be returning to the NBA Finals: The Defense. Everyone, me included, thought that losing Tyson Chandler would be tragic and cause a huge slip in our defense. Since I’ve been of the opinion that the Mavs best seasons (2006-NBA Finals appearance, 2011-NBA Championship) also corresponded with two of the best defenses the Mavs ever had I was convinced that this drop in both talent and intensity on the defensive end would be the deathblow for the 2012 Mavs. Yet somehow these Mavs have actually been as good on defense using the eyeball test and even better than last year’s group statistically. Part of this is due to the league wide sloppy play that has reduced offensive output everywhere yet I’m looking at team rankings for defense and not ppg so an increase or decrease in scoring league wide wouldn’t matter as it’s still comparative to other teams from that same year. Last year the Mavs impressed me with a 10th ranked scoring defense and an 8th ranked opponents field goal percentage. Yet despite losing the long, athletic, and tenacious Chandler this year’s version is even better ranking 5th in scoring defense and 4th in opponents field goal percentage. These are great numbers and I think are due to the fact that yes the Mavs lost Chandler but they also lost the weak link on defense in Barea while adding an underrated defender in Delonte West and seeing an improvement in defensive intensity from two young players in Ian Mahinmi and Roddy B. Both of those players have all of the athleticism in the world yet are only now starting to apply it to the defensive end in a concerted way and it’s really helped this team. As a whole this year’s Mavs are looking equal to last year’s team and that is a huge revelation that few in the media have yet to pick up on.

When looking at the western conference I see a Spurs team that somehow isn’t going away, a young and deep Nuggets team without a true star, two legit stars in Clipperland but little else, two young All Stars in Oklahoma who are surrounded by a capable supporting cast but still lack the ability to close out a team in the 4th quarter, and the same aging cast in LA that can’t seem to consistently win despite outstanding performances nightly from their top 3 players. I’ve seen them all and am frankly not impressed. Oklahoma City will probably end the season with the #1 seed yet the Mavs just last postseason went into Oklahoma City and won both games against them so home court advantage means very little in that series. Also as much as people want to clutch to hopes that the Lakers will “round into form” I just can’t see Kobe keeping up his tremendous play all season long and am just waiting for the next big injury to occur to Bynum. Once one of those occur the Lakers will be lucky to even make the playoffs let alone go on a deep run and I think it will be two straight years without a ring for the Lake show. I was ready to jump on the Clippers bandwagon yet the season ending injury to Chauncey Billups hurts them in two ways as it further reduces their already poor depth and takes of the roster the only starter who had legit playoff experience. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Chris Paul has only won one playoff series in his 7 year career and his heat for doing nothing in the playoffs is long overdue. Some were arguing he was spectacular last year vs. the Lakers in the 1st round, losing 4-2 in the series, yet that series looks much less impressive one year later when one realizes that it was just a week later that the Mavericks swept the same team 4-0 with two of the victories being outright double digit blowouts. I’ve argued for awhile that Paul is handled with kid gloves by the media and I will be very interested to see how he does come playoff time as Griffin and the bright lights of LA will put him on the national stage. I suspect that without Billups helping him in clutch situations he will fail and is a big reason why I doubt them, at least this year. In conclusion I see the Mavs as arguably the most talented, definitely the most experienced, and probably the deepest team in the West and is the reason why I think they will make it back to the NBA Finals this year. Unfortunately I can’t predict a win in those Finals as they will be facing the Heat again and they are looking even more impressive than they were last year, when I picked them in the preseason last year to win it all. I have a great feeling that the Mavs will round into form, be a top 4 seed come playoff time, and cruise into the Finals surprising most who have the West as a huge jumble with only the Thunder really standing out. Unfortunately they probably will run into a buzz saw in the Heat who will be motivated to earn their redemption and will win the title in impressive fashion. That’s my prediction, hopefully it works out a little better than my last one.

Patriots in a blowout?

Posted 2/3/11 3:35 pm

Accomplishments: While everyone is talking about how the Giants road to the Super Bowl was the tougher one (facing the #1 seeded Packers, #2 seeded 49ers, and #4 seeded Falcons all on the road) few are mentioning why they had to travel that road in the first place. During the regular season the Giants were 9-7 and the #6 seed in the playoffs while the Patriots were 13-3 and the #1 seed. The Giants were outscored by 6 points in the regular season (19th best in the league) while the Patriots outscored their opponents by 171 points (3rd best). The Giants came into the playoffs on a 2 game winning streak while the Patriots came into the playoffs on an 8 game winning streak. This all gives the impression that the Patriots are the superior team while the Giants might be just the lucky team yet the most interesting stat I found was that despite the Giants being very average in record, seeding, and point differential they put up these poor stats despite having the 3rd easiest schedule in all of football! The only teams with an easier schedule than the Giants were the Rams and Chiefs. Now you can say that you just need to win the games on your schedule and not worry about who your playing but when the Patriots played the 14th toughest schedule in the league (the Cowboys played the 12th if anyone is interested) AND had a far superior record, seeding, and point differential than the Giants who played the 29th toughest schedule it makes me wonder just how much of the Giants run is “getting hot” and how much is just sheer luck.

Related fact: The Giants are the only team in NFL history to make a Super Bowl despite being outscored in the regular season.

Pass Rush: I keep hearing how the Giants are going to beat the Patriots because of their pass rush. I think this is a case of allowing history to cloud a fan’s vision of the present as this was the game plan in 2007 but it would be foolish to expect it to work this year. Yes the Giants still have a top notch pass rush ending the year 3rd in the league with 48 sacks yet despite this strength they were only 27th in yards allowed and 25th in points allowed. Compare that to the 2007 Giants who were 1st in the league in sack with 53 yet also were 7th in the league in yards allowed and 17th in points allowed. The 2007 Giants were an elite pass rush that was just one part of a very good defense and fans see this year’s Giants as the same yet the reality is that these Giants have an elite pass rush that, despite it’s dominance, can’t mask all of the problems the rest of the defense has. Also keep in mind that the Patriots knew their offensive line was the weakness in their offense and have worked to fix it drafting an offensive tackle in the 1st round (Nate Solder-2011) and 2nd round (Sebastian Vollmer-2009) in the past 3 years. This isn’t the same average offensive line the Patriots had in 2007 and, despite the Giants continued dominance in the pass rush, this isn’t the same dominant defense the Giants had in 2007. This matchup of Patriots offense vs. Giants defense reminds me of the Patriots-Denver playoff game this year where the Broncos had a dominant pass rush (10th in NFL with 41 sacks-Giants were 3rd) yet an average overall defense (24th in NFL in points allowed-Giants were 25th) and when their pass rush couldn’t get to Brady (0 sacks in the game) they were lit up with Brady having an NFL record 6 passing TDs in the first 3 quarters alone. I expect similar results with the Patriots offense having a very good day.

Related fact: The Giants allowed 58 more points this season than the Patriots.

Lastly there is the QB: This is where the discussion seems to get the most strange because I keep hearing how people are picking the Giants because Eli is just playing so well? Okay that’s fine when he goes against a middle of the road QB in Matt Ryan or a highly overrated QB in Alex Smith, who just last year was looking for backup QB jobs in other cities, yet Eli is going against the best QB of this generation. Tom Brady is statistically the 2nd best QB of this generation (Peyton is 1st) yet when adding up Super Bowl wins (3), Super Bowl Appearances (5-counting this year), Playoff Wins QB (16), Playoff Winning Percentage (16-5 for .762), and other stats of that kind you realize that Brady isn’t just the best QB of his generation but arguably the best of all time. If he wins this Sunday he will have the most super bowl rings by a QB, most playoff wins by a QB, 3rd highest playoff winning percentage among QBs with at least 10 games (Bart Starr is first by the way and has a very underrated claim to best QB of all time), and will be 21 yards shy of 40,000 passing yards for his career (only counts regular season stats so won’t be achieved Sunday). That is definitely a resume that puts him at the front of the discussion for GOAT (greatest of all time) yet somehow the Giants are being said to have an advantage in this game at the QB position? It makes no sense except that a lot of fans have this idea that Brady has been great but is slowing down while Eli is having his best year ever. I do agree that Eli is having a career year yet if we just look at this season Tom has a higher QB rating in the regular season (105.6 vs. 92.9), postseason (105.8 vs. 103.1), yards in the regular season (5,235 vs. 4,933), TDs  (39 vs. 29), and fewer interceptions as well (12 vs. 16). Simply put Tom Brady has been the better QB the past 5 years and STILL is the better QB.

Related fact: A win Sunday will put Tom Brady up with Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana as the only QBs to ever win 4 Super Bowls.

Prediction: I’ve been very surprised by how the majority of people I talk to and much of the media feels that the Giants will beat the Patriots. In my opinion it comes down to how you viewed the Giants-49ers game as I viewed it as a poorly played game on both sides and one in which Eli was far from the clutch star many are making him out to be but was actually the goat that lucked into a victory. On 5 straight possession from the middle of the 4th quarter until Kyle Williams fumble, Eli was given the ball with a 17-17 tie and allowed a chance to manufacture a game winning drive. On all 5 possessions they punted. I watched that game and was not impressed at all with the Giants on offense as they are far too one dimensional. Couple that with the season statistics which paint the Giants as a team that shouldn’t have even made the playoffs and a defense that was one of the worst in the league this year and I just have a conviction that Brady will exploit their poor secondary and Belichick will create a game plan to shutdown the Giants one dimensional passing game. The Super Bowl is a weird event where the 2 weeks off, the media blitz, and the resulting pressure can often cause a surprising result. Yet to me this looks like a comfortable win by the Patriots. My prediction is Patriots 34 and Giants 24.

Top 100 Updated

Posted 1/24/11 9:35 pm

Make sure to click on the College Football Top 50 (soon to be renamed) for my updated Top 100 draft eligible players. This is the updated list going into the postseason before I use the information I gather from the Senior Bowl, East-West Shrine Game, and Combine so this list will surely change. In a few weeks I will begin breaking down the Cowboys draft options and going into greater detail but until then enjoy the list and I’m getting excited about Yu Darvish!

NFL Championship Weekend Notes

Posted 1/23/11 9:35 pm

1) Tom Brady is making it harder and harder to call him clutch. He threw 2 interceptions (a 3rd was called back for pass interference) and missed numerous open throws that could have broken the game open. Also it’s interesting to note on 3rd and 2 in the red zone up 13-10 in the 3rd quarter the Patriots ran the ball. They didn’t get it and ended up kicking a FG for a 16-10 lead that they quickly lost but the note was taken by me: Bill Belicheck wanted to play it safe and actually trusted his defense and running game more than his QB. This is important for two reasons as the past 4 years the Patriots have morphed into an offensive juggernaut (starting with the Randy Moss trade in 2007). The other reason it’s important is that the past 4 years has seen a steady decline in the Patriots D that used to be a top 5-10 unit every year. Brady is coming off a season in 2010 when he had an almost perfect 36 TD 4 INT ratio yet he has 7 interceptions in his last 4 playoff games (10 ints in his last 6 if you want to go back further) and just doesn’t look like the same guy come playoff time.

2) Sunday’s game was a classic example where the media will miss the headline as it’s not: “2007 Super Bowl Rematch” but more like “”Look how the two teams have changed since 2007.” When last we saw the Patriots in the Super Bowl they were 18-0, setting offensive records galore, and looking spectacular on offense. Now they are more of a quick passing team that revolves around slants and hitches to Welker followed by medium passes to Gronkowski and Hernandez when the opposing teams’ safeties move up to challenge the shorter passes. It’s an efficient offense but lacks the dominance and overwhelming statistics the 2007 variety had (589 pts scored by 2007 unit vs. 513). When last we saw the Giants they were a dominant running team with an elite D that was carrying their mediocre QB. Now it’s the Eli show as their running game ranks last in the league in total yard and yard per attempt and their D, which continues to somehow get called an elite unit, ranks 27th in yards allowed and 25th in points allowed. This is as one dimensional of a team as you will see this late in the season. Eli, Cruz, and Nicks are all the Giants have yet somehow they’ve used this to blow out the Falcons and Packers while winning a close one in overtime against the 49ers, all on the road. This is a rematch in name only.

3) As much as I’ve discounted the 49ers all season long, due to my belief that a team led by Alex Smith will never win a Super Bowl, it’s hard to argue with this fact: If Ted Ginn hadn’t been injured and had been their punt returner in Sundays game, the 49ers would be in the Super Bowl right now. That’s an absolutely astonishing fact to me as I didn’t even think the 49ers would make it to the playoffs as they have one of the 5-10 worst starting QBs in the NFL as well as one of the worst WR corps to go with it. The fact they came so close just shows how incredible of a coach Jim Harbaugh is and why you coach the players you have instead of trying to fight to put a square peg into a round hole. He inherited a team with a good running back, a very good defense, and an offensive line that had underachieved but had three former 1st round picks on it. He went out in free agency adding two quality defenders (CB Carlos Rogers, SS Donte Whitner) and a top notch pass rusher through the draft (DE Aldon Smith) so he could transform a good defense into one of the 4 best defenses in the league hands down. Then he motivated his highly touted offensive line to play better, added a young change of pace back through the draft (Kendall Hunter), and arguably the best field goal kicker in the league via free agency (David Akers) so he could transform his anemic offense into a solid ball control team that punishes you in the run game with 5 massive space eaters. By adding a few pieces here and there while motivating some of his veterans he completely changed the culture, the expectations, and the results of a once floundering franchise. Harbaugh deserves coach of the year honors even though his team came up short in the championship game.

4) Eli didn’t have a great game and is bordering on being overrated. Now again let’s understand that I mentioned earlier that Eli and his WR corp was the only thing making the Giants go and I feel that this year he officially became an upper echelon QB passing the middle pack led by the Romos, Schaubs, and Ryans of the world and now is at the lower end of the upper tier just out of reach of where Brady, Rodgers, and Brees reside. He would be neck and neck with Roethlisberger and Rivers (one bad season can’t cancel out the 4 previously great ones)for the #5 spot in my latest QB rankings yet that’s as far as I can go right now. In fact you can argue Sundays game wasn’t even a good one for him and is just considered that because he was so tough and they ended up winning. Looking back it’s hard to not notice that he had 26 incompletions, took 6 sacks (yes it shows how tough he was but that still means he put his O in a bad position 6 different times), had two would be interceptions miraculously dropped only because two defenders both easily were going to get it yet ran into each other, and his “game winning drive” occurred with 0 passes on it. That last statistic is the most damaging to the idea that his Sunday performance was “great” on his part as, before the fumble by the 49ers backup punt returner, Eli had 5 drives late in the 4th quarter or overtime where the game was tied 17-17 and he had a chance to be a hero by leading his team on the game winning drive. He went 0-5 yet got bailed out by a mistake made by 2nd year man Kyle Williams. Eli has had numerous incredible performances this year but this wasn’t one of them and it’s important to keep a level head when discussing players. He has done enough this season to warrant moving up into the upper echelon but there’s a difference between calling him great and saying he’s better than his brother (something Rick Reilly is doing in his latest article), there’s a difference between calling him clutch and saying his game Sunday was clutch (it wasn’t), and there’s a difference between calling him a top 7 QB in the NFL and calling him a top 4 QB in the NFL up there with Rodgers, Brady, and Brees. That is a chasm I’m not yet willing to cross for Eli. He was a warrior against the 49ers but if Kyle Williams hadn’t fumbled and Alex Smith led his team to a late game FG we would be talking about how one of the most clutch players all year failed in his biggest game time and again. Just because the fumble did occur doesn’t change the fact that Eli had a very average game Sunday and was fortunate to be on the winning side of it.

Mavs Quarterly Report

Posted 1/18/11 12:35 am

With the NBA in a shortened 66 game season the Mavericks are actually nearing the one quarter mark of the season, seems like just yesterday they were being blown out by the Heat. Due to the fact that the season has been coming fast and heavy these past few weeks and there are numerous new members to the team I thought it would be worthwhile to do a Mavs Quarterly Report and discuss each player on the roster in detail with a small opinion of the player at the end.

Rodrigue Beaubois: He’s only playing 13 minutes a game so it’s hard to gauge anything from his stats but having watched him in 4 games I can tell you that he is continuing to improve as a passer and distributor. He still is too careless with the ball and I continue to wish Carlisle would start him for a 5 game stretch and tell the kid he will play 36 minutes a night no matter what happens so he can calm down as it still looks like he’s looking behind his back after every mistake waiting for his punishment. Yet the kid is improving and while I don’t think he’s back to the 2009 explosive and confident Roddy B. who shot 50% FG and 40% 3pt I do think he’s getting better at being a scoring point guard and a contributor off the bench. I’m disappointed but only mildly and it’s probably due to my high expectations for the kid.

Brian Cardinal: He rarely plays and is used mainly when Marion is in foul trouble or Haywood/Odom isn’t playing hard on defense. He’s still just a scrub. He means nothing this year unless there’s an injury.

Vince Carter: I had high expectations for Vinsanity this year and to this point he has somewhat disappointed but if you watched the Milwaukee game where he scored the first two points off a nice triple threat move into the lane ending with a vicious dunk followed by another dunk and a few spot up threes you would have seen the Vince that we might have by the end of the year. Yes he’s old but he still can be a very effective 3rd scorer for this team in spurts and his 3 point shot has been good this year (44%) and outstanding lately (56%). Tentatively very excited.

Brendan Haywood: First let’s start off with the fact that his 6 year $55 million deal is an albatross and easily one of the worst contract in the NBA. Let’s also mention that the contract is a little misleading as the final year is voidable making it really a 5 year 44.5 million deal, feel better? Yeah me neither. Finally let’s mention that he is the most awkward offensive player I’ve seen in a Mavs uniform since Shawn Bradley. Now that’s out of the way we can have a realistic conversation about him as he never will be a great player and he always will be an overpaid player but the Mavs pay him to patrol the middle, be a big body in the paint, rebound, and defend. On that note you can argue that he has actually been very solid for the team this year with a great game against Andrew Bynum (remember the two great stuffs on Bynum’s post plays?) and improved energy on the court. I hate his contract and curse at Kidd every time he passes to him on the break, really Kidd what do you think he was going to do with it?, but will admit that this year’s Haywood is the best version we’ve seen since the 2009 version which convinced us to give him that big contract. Slightly optimistic but only due to incredibly low expectations.

Yi Jianlian: He’s Donnie Nelson’s pet project and while I do see his elite combination of height, weight, and shooting touch I must admit I’ve never been a fan of his (Who can he guard? No one, okay not interested.). He’s quickly becoming a fan favorite at home games as he has come into blowouts a few times already to raucous applause and has had the green light to shoot, 3 shots in only 6 minutes of the Milwaukee Bucks game. Yet I doubt he ever becomes more than a fan favorite scrub. Not a fan of his game or of him being on the roster.

Domonique Jones: He had a few flashes early in the year but rarely has played in the past few weeks. I still like his future as he has athleticism and a knack for getting to the rim but right now he’s just a scrub. He means nothing this year.

Jason Kidd: A back injury knocked him out of the lineup for 4 games and the offense looked very discombobulated during that stretch showing the veteran presence he brings to an offense. That being said his 3 point shot has been atrocious lately (3 for his last 20) and since he no longer is more than a facilitator and spot up shooter it’s important he regains his old stroke. His defense though has been very good and his quick hands have been evident lately with 16 steals in his past 6 games (2.6 spg). I’m not worried.

Ian Mahinmi: He’s still the raw, athletic “move” center who shows flashes of brilliance followed by boneheaded plays yet this year the brilliant plays are definitely seen more this year than last. It’s not hard to argue that he’s the most improved player from this roster last year and he’s neck and neck with Haywood in playing time and impact. Don’t be surprised if Ian not Brendan is finishing games by the end of this year as he has youth, athleticism, and energy which sometimes is in short supply on this roster of +30 year olds. I’m excited.

Shawn Marion: In my opinion Shawn has been the Mavs best, most consistent player on offense AND defense through the first quarter of the season. He doesn’t wow you with his offensive production but he gets 6-12 pts a game off post ups and gets the rest off offensive rebounds, transition opportunities, and broken down plays where his athleticism and height give him an advantage. On defense he’s been nothing short of spectacular holding Kobe Bryant scoreless (0-10 vs. Marion, 7-12 vs. other Mavs) despite Kobe coming in averaging 43 ppg in his past 4 games. His high shooting percentage on offense and his ability to play quality D against anyone from Kobe Bryant to Kevin Garnett has made him invaluable to the team this year. Very impressed.

Dirk Nowitzki: Word is that Dirk didn’t touch a basketball from the buzzer of Game 6 till early Fall. It showed. He deserved the rest and with the Mavs at 8-6 it’s not the end of the world but Dirk hasn’t looked like Dirk this season and I think the main reason is that the hardest worker every offseason finally took a summer off. He has looked a little out of shape, slow in his movements, and rusty with his shot going a mind boggling 3-11 and 2-11 in back to back games. Since those horrific outings he has shot 54% from the field (5 games) and includes two great 4th quarters with the game winning and one play vs. Boston followed a few nights later with 3 straight baskets against the Lakers that nearly brought the Mavs back to force overtime despite being down 8 points with 2 minutes left. Dirk will be fine eventually as I’m sure he’s staying late after every practice to regain his old form but this is a quarterly report and for the first quarter of this season Dirk has clearly been a disappointment. Very disappointed but not worried long term.

Lamar Odom: He started the season looking atrocious offensively (19.5 FG% in first 6 games) and has improved that to where now he just looks bad (39% FG in last 8 games). To this point he has looked on the court like a guy who doesn’t want to be there so it didn’t surprise me when he said he seriously considered taking a year off from basketball this past offseason. Luckily for Mavs fans he has begun to turn the corner looking more energetic lately and being aggressive offensively instead of falling into his old habit of shooting long jumpers from the perimeter. When seeing if Lamar is into a game or not you need to look more at his rebounding and assists stats than his points and it does paint an improved picture. In his first 7 games of the season he averaged 4.2 rebounds and 1.0 assist a game with those numbers improving to 5.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists in the last 7 games. Those stats are hardly impressive, especially the assist total considering Odom is one of the more gifted passing forwards in the game, yet it’s a start and hopefully he will continue to get in better shape, both mentally and physically, so he can have the type of impact I expected from him when the trade was announced. Very disappointed but at least there are signs of improvement.

Jason Terry: With Dirk struggling and Kidd injured it’s often been up to Terry, Marion, and the new guys to scrap their way to a victory. He’s been a rock this season looking like one of the few Mavs to actually be ready and in game shape when the season started. His numbers are very efficient (45% FG, 43% 3pt, 82% FT) and his floater in the lane against LA a few nights ago was so clutch which is just what we have come to expect from the Jet. Those clutch plays haven’t been needed too much this season as the Mavs have had a 10 pt or less margin of victory/defeat in only 4 of 14 games this year yet it’s good to see that when the Jet will be needed he’ll be ready. I should be used to his steady play by now but with so many people struggling due to the lockout it’s good to see the Jet playing like he usually does.

Delonte West: I’ve always liked his game but even I was surprised by how good he’s played in the early part of this season. He’s coming off the worst game of his season  against the Lakers and doesn’t have impressive numbers (41% FG,    but he’s had some good performances this year (6 pts 10 ast vs. Detroit, 6 of his 14 games he’s scored in double figures) and looks like he’s on his way to making Mavs fans forget about JJ Barea. Also he has played outstanding defense against perimeter players, something that is vital to the Mavs with DeShawn Stevenson gone. I’m pleasantly surprised.

Sean Williams: I’ve never seen him in a game. I’m uninterested.

Brandan Wright: He has replaced Roddy B. this year as the guy I most want more playing time for as he has been outstanding at times when given minutes. It’s important to put it into context though as he has yet to score in double digits or play more than 13 minutes in a game yet he has a 6 rebound game, a 3 block game, is shooting 63% from the field, and has been extremely active on the boards and as a defender. I’ve been a big fan of his for years when he was with Golden State as he seemed to be that ultra skinny, uber athlete that can really impact a game off the bench and I’m glad to see him producing for this team. He’s probably the 10th or 11th man on this roster so little is expected of him but don’t be surprised to see him put up solid numbers if Odom, Marion, Dirk, or Mahinmi get injured this year. About as excited as you can get about a guy who rarely plays.

Where’s Jon?

Posted 1/18/11 12:15 pm

With my last post nearly 1 month ago it’s a valid question. Let’s just say it’s a combination of the holidays, the fact that the Cowboys play near the end of the season absolutely disgusted me, and it turning into scouting time for me as there were 35 bowl games I needed to watch these past few weeks. That last part of my excuse is by far the biggest reason and isn’t going away anytime soon as this week is the East-West Shrine game, next week is the Senior Bowl, and in a few weeks is the NFL Combine. I’ve been working long hours on my scouting book and will very soon have an updated top 100 for the readers yet until then be patient with me and understand that with the Mavericks months away from the playoffs and the Cowboys and Rangers in the offseason the NFL Draft becomes king. With that being said I do have the Mavs Quarterly Report coming out later today so be on the lookout for that nugget but understand that it will be the last article on this website probably for another week at least. Very soon though I’ll be breaking down the Draft in full detail, discussing Cowboys strategy, and giving you my overrated and underrated lists. Stay tuned and thanks for the patience.

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