HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
Solving Problems: Mavericks Need To Stay Together
By Yannis Koutroupis
At the beginning of last season there were few people outside of the Dallas metropolitan area who believed in the Dallas Mavericks’ chances of winning an NBA Championship. Four years removed from their first trip to the Finals, where they lost to the Miami HEAT in six games, the Mavericks hadn’t advanced past the second round since. They earned the reputation of a team that was great during the regular season, but just couldn’t get it done when it mattered in the playoffs.
Their run in the 2011 postseason changed that completely.
Going into a first-round matchup against the young and tough Portland Trail Blazers, many expected the Mavericks to bow out early again. They were without two of their top offensive players in Caron Butler and Rodrigue Beaubois due to injury, forcing them to depend heavily on aging veterans Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion. They delivered, however, as the Mavericks bounced back after losing two straight with a 2-0 lead to advance in six games.
Top Five Emerging NBA Tandems
By Eric Pincus
The current NBA champion Dallas Mavericks are the ideal example of the team concept.
Admittedly, they have a superstar in Dirk Nowitzki, but he’s been one of the top players in the league for years. The difference in 2011 was a complete, united and versatile roster that flourished with the addition of center Tyson Chandler, the emergence of J.J. Barea and the steady play from Jason Kidd, Jason Terry and Shawn Marion.
Winning with balance isn’t the only way to win a title. History has seen teams can be driven by a dynamic tandem of players . . . a duo whose performance together can trump a deeper five.
The most obvious recent example would be the Shaquille O’Neal/Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers run at the beginning of the century that led to three championships. Later O’Neal teamed up with Dwyane Wade in Miami to win a title. Both teams had solid role players but there’s no question they heavily relied on star power.
Perhaps the most famous tandem would be Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen . . . although it’d be a disservice to the Chicago Bulls to denigrate what were two sets of very strong players each separate three-peat).
Coach: Five Undervalued Players
By Anthony Macri
Sometimes when watching NBA games it is hard to take our eyes off the stars. Players like LeBron James, Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant draw everyone’s attention – and in many ways those stars are worth even more than their large salaries. However, a number of players around the league help teams win games and are still undervalued and under-rated. After a quick stroll through the league’s rosters, here is a player at every position that is often overlooked, but could be a difference-maker for a championship team.
PG: Kyle Lowry (age: 24, 13.5ppg, 6.7apg, 4.1rpg, PER: 16.5 – 19th)
Lowry really turned it on at the end of February as his output shot up in nearly every statistical category. Possessing a ton of quickness from the point guard slot, Lowry is able to get shots for himself and is a good creator out of ball screen situations. He turns corners and recognizes driving lanes very well, but also adjusts to second line defenders, which is a tough task to master for smaller point guards.
Solving Problems: Bobcats Jettisoning Vets
By Joel Brigham
The title of this article is misleading. It suggests that jettisoning veterans is, in fact, the Charlotte Bobcats’ problem, and I suppose that it can’t really be denied that by giving away guys like Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace, win totals are inevitably going to drop. But really, in the big picture of the franchise, dumping long-term contracts in favor of younger guys and draft picks is a much friendlier way to rebuild.
While you can make the playoffs behind guys like Wallace and Jackson, it probably would only ever happen as a seven or eight seed, and even then you’re most likely looking at a first-round loss.
When that happens, when a team is only good enough to barely miss the lottery, just sneak into the postseason, and then immediately lose, there’s simply no way to get better. You can’t win a ring, but you also can’t draft top rookies. Unless you get lucky with a late pick or a trade, there’s no way you’re ever going to slip out of that basketball purgatory unless you do something dramatic.
Solving Problems: Hawks Must Tighten Bench
By Lang Greene
The Atlanta Hawks franchise is at a pivotal crossroads.
Will the club rest on its laurels and be content with just being a perennial playoff team or will the organization apply the gas and pursue true title contention?
The Hawks were purchased this past August by California developer and pizza chain owner Alex Muruelo who has vowed to revitalize the team’s hot and cold fan base and more importantly has the vision of pushing the club into the ranks of the league’s elite.
With new ownership seemingly not content to just make the postseason the pressure is now on executive vice president and general manager Rick Sund to make the necessary adjustments to the core of a roster which has made four consecutive playoff appearances.
With all signs pointing toward a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) seriously reducing salary cap flexibility and the use of exceptions, Sund’s title building project won’t be easy to accomplish by any stretch of the imagination.