The year is ending and it’s been a tough stretch for the Mavericks and observers who have no control over what’s gone on the past couple of years. It’s difficult to watch a franchise struggling this way when it seems so unnecessary.
That is not to say any franchise won’t have a down cycle – even the best ones do at times, but this somehow seems different. Perhaps that is because many of us feel that this is all the result of a gross miscalculation and an ill-advised gamble that hasn’t paid off. Even if it eventually does, how much will a once-in-a-lifetime player such as Dirk Nowitzki have left to be able to enjoy it?
I’ve made no secret of my feelings about what was done to the championship team and now, more than ever, it just stings.
Perhaps more importantly, I’ve pondered if this is some sort of pattern that we’ve been shadowed from as Dirk has carried this team on his shoulders and largely single-handedly prevented mistakes from sinking the Mavericks year after year.
The Mavericks have not had a losing record since before Dirk’s arrival and this is not just a losing record – it’s WELL below .500 and on a team that should not be struggling this badly. While some observers felt the new lineup would not make the playoffs, many of us believed the team had done a solid job of recovering in free agency and this team is not just mediocre. Since the 4-1 start they are 8-18.
Even with Dirk coming back from injury, no one believed the team would struggle this badly and even now, Rick Carlisle has echoed the sentiment that there is no reason this roster shouldn’t be more competitive. Before the second blowout loss to the Spurs, the Mavericks were already the victim of 1/3 of the total number of 20-point losses in the NBA—a staggering statistic.
Without some consistently positive play at the point guard spot (and for that matter, other positions as well), things are not likely to change. For a team to be successful it has to have more than one go-to guy who performs most of the time and this season the Mavs have few they can turn to. The backcourt has largely been hot-and-cold and where there has been consistency in the frontcourt (Kaman, Wright, James) Coach Rick Carlisle has been hesitant to give more minutes.
At this point I’m not sure what they have to lose by letting some of the younger guys who have played well get some minutes. If they’re headed for the lottery anyway we might as well give some time to the potential stars of the future who have at least performed well so far, instead of others old or young who have struggled all season long or been wildly inconsistent. If the intent is still to try and compete, why not give time to the guys whose stats justify it?
Here’s hoping for a better 2013. Let’s go Mavs!