10 Things Mavericks need to do to gain respect in West with the help of Jim Varney

AJ Smith
Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic
Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
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You read that right. If the Dallas Mavericks want to enter the playoffs instilling at least a modicum of fear into top-seeded teams like Denver, Phoenix, Memphis, or Sacramento, they could learn a lot from the deceased star of the Ernest P. Worrell film franchise. Stay with me.

Wednesday’s overtime road win over the Spurs was equal parts exciting and concerning. It’s always nice to get come out on top as the visiting team when you’re down your top two players, but the Spurs are amongst the bottom two teams in the West, and Dallas allowing them to complete an inbound alley-oop to tie the game with only seconds remaining is certainly frustrating.

Nonetheless, there’s plenty to learn from that game. But don’t take it from me, take it from everyone’s favorite blue-collar, half-witted, denim-clad everyman. Apologies to any reader born after about 1994.

10. Dallas Mavericks need stronger leadership

We can blame any number of players for Keldon Johnson’s game-tying dunk: Christian Wood for his airball with ten seconds remaining, Maxi Kleber for letting Johnson get behind him, or Reggie Bullock for playing so far toward the opposite end of the court. But the real blame here goes to Jason Kidd, who opted to have three players 6’7 and under on the court at the same time in such a situation.

Kidd needs to understand his personnel in that moment. A rim protector under the basket, JaVale McGee or even Wood might suffice, prevents that play. If San Antonio wins on a miraculous catch-and-shoot three, your starless squad tips their caps. Had they lost after this play, it would have been devastating.

In Varney’s first Ernest film, Ernest Goes to Camp, our titular maintenance man discovers the leader within as he orchestrates a group of delinquent campers in a valiant effort to thwart a mining company’s takeover of native land. I’d like to see Kidd get his team to defend the paint, especially in situations such as Wednesday’s, with the same stoic resolve.