The 2011 Dallas Mavericks Were a Great Team Made Up of Good Players
By Kohl Rast
Every Dallas Mavericks fan (and NBA fan in general) since the immaculate 2011 championship run has done one of two things: oversold the team as a group that could beat most teams in history, or undersold the team as a big smudge on LeBron James’ record. In reality, this team was definitely somewhere in between.
Yesterday was the seven year anniversary of the Dallas Mavericks immaculate run to their very first NBA championship. During that run, the Mavs took down the Portland Trail Blazers, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Miami Heat on their way to an NBA title and a parade to celebrate.
I’m sure all of you know the story by now, whether you’re Mavs fans or not. Dallas starts it all off against the 6-seed Blazers who were in the midst of a resurgence from their oft-injured star player, Brandon Roy, alongside LaMarcus Aldridge. The Blazers fought hard to take games three and four in the series when analysts started to turn on Dallas. It didn’t matter. Dallas takes games five and six along with the series.
Next come the two-time defending NBA champions, the Los Angeles Lakers. Naturally, everyone believed Kobe Bryant and the Lake show would run wild over this Mavs team in no time. No dice though. Mavs sweep.
For the Western Conference Finals, people were starting to see the team of destiny in Dallas, but could they take down the young stars in Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and James Harden? Yep. In five games.
Lastly, you have the Miami Heat, led by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. This super team had been assembled the summer before the season and took some time getting used to each other, but this team was lethal. No way Dallas could do it one more time. But they did. In 6.
No matter how much people wanted to count the Dallas Mavericks out in the 2011 NBA playoffs, it wasn’t going to happen. The simple explanation for this is that the Mavs roster doesn’t look good on paper, but looked great on the court.
This is because the players for the Mavs were not necessarily the best players, but from the top of the roster (Dirk) to the bottom (Brian Cardinal), Dallas was a team that knew exactly how to work together no matter which five players were on the floor. Of the guys on the roster, there were only 9 that played substantial minutes throughout the playoffs and each of those 9 guys knew their role on the team.
Dirk Nowitzki was obvious. He was the leader and he was the undisputed best player on the team. He was there to get buckets when they were needed and to get the other team in foul trouble no matter what. There’s never been another player like Dirk and even he was on another level in 2011.
The case for the 2nd best player was up in the air at this point, but my vote goes to Shawn Marion. One of the best man-to-man defenders in the league at that time and a great guy if you needed a bucket, a rebound, or a stop.
Next was Jason Terry, who was Dirk’s main area of relief on the offensive side of the ball. Jet was otherworldly from beyond the arc in those playoffs and was a great Robin to Dirk’s Batman throughout the playoffs.
Then you have Tyson Chandler, the defensive anchor to the team and a threat above the rim on both ends. Without Tyson playing excellent help and team defense, the Mavs likely do not have a title.
After that, there is Jason Kidd, the best floor general the NBA has seen in a long time. Kidd knew exactly what to do and when to do it, and his ability to implement Coach Carlisle’s offense was pivotal in taking down each opponent throughout the playoffs.
The next three are close together, but I put J.J. Barea and his NBA Finals heroics ahead of the other two. Barea was the perfect player to back up Jason Kidd and an instant threat on offense off the bench.
Then there is Peja Stojakovic, the deadly sharpshooter that spread the floor for Dirk, Kidd, Marion and the rest of the squad.
DeShawn Stevenson was a gritty defender that brought a lot of attitude to the team. The fact that I have him as the 8th best player on this Dallas squad should tell you just how good the team was.
The last player receiving substantial minutes was Brendan Haywood, who came in at the right time to give Chandler a rest, while not being a major burden on the floor either.
The other three playoff rostered Mavs: Brian Cardinal, Corey Brewer, and Ian Mahinmi did what they needed to in their limited action.
This team was one of the most exciting teams to ever step on the court, but they were not the most exciting individual players at any point in the playoffs. This goes to show you that this team was truly something special and was assembled to be a team and not a group of players.
Next time the debate comes up on where the Dallas Mavericks championship run sits compared to others, remember not to oversell or undersell. The Mavs weren’t the best team in NBA history, but they did have the perfect set of players for the perfect system. Which makes that championship run even sweeter.