With so much currently new and unfamiliar with the 2012-2013 Dallas Mavericks, it’s tough for anyone to have answers right now.
After jumping on the season quickly by winning four of their first five games, Dallas has since lost those good vibes that came with the 4-1 start by dropping three consecutive games. Despite two of those losses coming on the road, losing to the Charlotte Bobcats for the first time in franchise history was the breaking point that quickly sent the 4-4 Mavs into their first mini-tailspin of the year.
During that Charlotte game in particular, the young, Nowitzki-less, Marion-less Mavs made far too many mistakes down the stretch, which led to them coughing up a more-than-winnable game. Over the course of the last few years, starting with the acquisition of Jason Kidd in 2008, the Mavericks have prided themselves on finishing close games in a smart way and not beating themselves when it mattered most.
In Charlotte, Kidd wasn’t there and mistakes were. Darren Collison, Kidd’s replacement at point guard, was the biggest culprit in the final minutes, making multiple mistakes on the break, missing easy lay ups early in the shot clock, and committing costly turnovers.
Collison has advantages over Kidd in so many ways it gets tough to keep count sometimes. He’s quicker, faster, can score easier, guard quicker point guards, and so on. Still, the Basketball-Jedi mind of Jason Kidd will be something that the Mavericks will miss at times over the course of the season. The return of veterans will hopefully help with that, but until then the games must go on with the roster as currently constructed.
“We’ve got to make sure these guys are ready to play,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said with a ‘no-excuses’ attitude. “We all own it.”
Still, nothing can truly be judged with this team until Shawn Marion and Dirk Nowitzki come back from their injuries and fall back into their customary roles. Specifically with Collison and OJ Mayo, there have been some roller coaster moments, some significant peaks accompanied with a fair share of valleys.
Regardless, almost all of their performances are meaningless until the Mavericks are at full strength and the newcomers show they can successfully and efficiently play alongside Nowitzki. This is one of the primary reasons why finding out Nowitzki would miss significant time was such bad news, obviously behind missing the actual production the Big German provides.
OJ Mayo has been absolutely torrid from behind the arc, shooting at a 61% clip so far this season. That’s fantastic for the Mavs, but worthless if he can’t keep his shooting rhythm and efficiency up after getting fewer shots upon Nowitzki’s return. Darren Collison is averaging 14 points a game on 51% shooting, but his true value will come from being a consistent weapon while playing off of Nowitzki in the two man game. He’ll have to adjust his game to fit that mold in the heat of the regular season.
Right now, the only thing that can really be measured by watching these Mavs is the win-loss record while waiting for their big time players to return. Until then, the hope is that OJ Mayo keeps making shots and Darren Collison continues scoring at an efficient rate…and then that they keep doing exactly that once Dirk Nowitzki returns.
Is that too much to ask?