By Wes Lilliman


Head Coach: Rick Carlisle

Projected Rotation:
PG – Jason Kidd
SG – Jason Terry
SF – Caron Butler
PF – Dirk Nowitzki
C – Tyson Chandler
G – Rodrigue Beaubois
G – DeShawn Stevenson
G – Dominique Jones
F – Shawn Marion
F – Tim Thomas
C – Brendan Haywood

I want the best for the Dallas Mavericks.

I like them. I like an owner who is locked in, passionate, genuine, and doesn’t look like he’d rather be anywhere else during games (go check Clay Bennett sitting on his ass during some of OKC’s great home performances against the Lakers if you want to see the “anti-Cuban”). I like a superstar that shows some loyalty to a city and is a little more low-profile than the norm. I like an organization that went from the bottom of the barrel in the 1990s to producing a consistent, guaranteed 50-win team for the past number of years. God, how wonderful would it be if, finally… after all of these years… they got over the hump and brought the ring HOME TO DALLAS!

They won’t, but you can imagine what it would be like.

It’s just that, despite their efforts, they can’t seem to put together the right combination of guys to take them from regular-season powerhouses and playoff regulars to the kings of the whole damn thing. Specifically, they can’t get that one guy… the guy who takes just enough pressure off their big gun and changes the approach in a way that the opposition can’t find the final answer to.

The thing is, it isn’t like Mark Cuban doesn’t try. He’s always in the mix when talks about a big free-agent or a possible trade spring up. He knows what needs to happen and he puts his makes his best pitch time and time again. It seems like every year, the Mavs have an interesting new wing player, a promising young guard, or a potentially impactful addition in the post. Cuban goes into the season excited, optimistic, and aware of the fact that all of the wins don’t compare to a championship…

… and, every year, his heart gets crushed.

But really, who cares? They had their chance. Remember 2006? Remember Dirk stepping up to the line in Game 3 and clanking a free throw when he had a chance to tie it up (all after coughing up a big lead in the 4th)? That was it. They hit the peak and have never been able to get back. This year, will be no exception.

Nowitzki, of course, resigned… and good for him. He got good money, got to stay where he wanted, and comes back with another solid squad around him. The problem is, while he’s obviously a marquee player that can shoot/score like few big men can, he’s not that type of number one. You know, not of that Kobe Bryant mold (I know, who is?). Dirk just struggles sometimes when the heat gets turned up. Get him flustered and he’ll start to break. He’ll start throwing his hands around all over the place… maybe kick a ball into the stands… maybe get called for a tech. To be fair, the Mavs wouldn’t even be in those positions without him but, the point is, someone else has to step up in the playoffs because he needs help – and nobody ever does.

Of course, Dallas does have weapons. The Jason Kidd train keeps rollin’ on (even if it has slowed a bit) and he continues to improve as an overall player. As an added bonus, I’m not aware of him beating down any women lately, so that’s good. Don’t get too comfortable, though – this is a guy who allegedly once punched his wife in the face in an argument over FRENCH FRIES, so the fuse must be short.

(I’m trying to envision how French fries lead to spousal abuse or violence of any sort. Like, “… these are the curly ones… I DIDN’T WANT THE CURLY ONES.” Whatever.)

Jason Terry and Rodrigue Beaubois are also back, and they’ll probably jump in and out of the starting shooting guard spot, depending on who is healthy and/or who is playing well (enough). The Mavs also drafted Dominique Jones, but he’s not set to make an immediate impact (although I watched him play some decent Summer League ball). Certainly not the worst group of guards out there, but no reason to expect anything different than years past unless somebody unexpectedly steps up. When it counts.

Caron Butler and Shawn Marion join Dirk in the land of the forwards, and that’s really about it. My guess is that Butler starts at the 3, and “The Matrix” comes off the bench to support. That would be nice if this was 3 years ago, but Marion isn’t what he used to be. Plus, they’re pretty small if they try and use either to give Dirk time to rest, which means Dallas will have to turn to the big men…

… which brings me to Brendan Haywood and Tyson Chandler. Make no mistake about it: that’s some size on the front line. Chandler was the main new addition to the team, and he’s a presence when healthy. Perhaps the best thing about both is that neither is Erick Dampier, who Dallas previously had to try and utilize.

The problems I see with all of this involve depth and chemistry. Nowitzki better be prepared to play some serious minutes, because when you take him out of the lineup, you’re left with a pretty underwhelming team. The big guys are sort offensively-inept, and the guards are inconsistent. Coach Rick Carlisle realized this at a practice recently, which caused him to pass out and be taken to the hospital for observation.

Alright, so that wasn’t the actual cause, but believe me, he knows this is a challenge.

IF THEY GET LUCKY: Dirk develops an iron mind and finds new ways to score. The group develops a chemistry and gets unexpected contributions from various bench players. Additionally, they amass so many regular season wins that they end up playing a weaker team (not named the Spurs) in the playoffs.

IF THEY DON’T: Kidd mistakes Dirk for one of his many women and attacks him during practice. Both hit some sort of wall, and their careers begin to slide. The team has to rely on everyone else, and let’s face it, that wouldn’t work out well.

REALITY: This team is slowly being passed by the younger, more dynamic Western Conference teams. They’re still the best team in their weak division, and they’ll hit the playoffs again. But I can’t put any faith in this team and it doesn’t matter if they do somehow squeak through a few rounds, because the Lakers will crush them.


Okay, so Dirk hasn’t been able put the final nail in the coffin and win an NBA Title. However, don’t think he doesn’t have the heart of AN ASSASSIN. For example, take a look at his cold-blooded destruction of an insect during a post-game press conference:

Such accuracy.

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