(photo: Danny Bollinger, Mavs.com)
Bobby Karalla, writer for the Dallas Mavericks on mavs.com, took some time to answer some questions regarding the Mavs’ trade deadline situation, playoff hopes and Dirk approaching a huge career milestone. Enjoy!
This is a very busy time of the season with the trade deadline coming up, and rumors are swirling. Obviously everyone has an opinion, but do you think the Mavs should try to shake things up a little bit before the deadline, or should they try to ride it out with who they have?
It ultimately depends on what the Mavs think they have in some of their younger players and what they think they could get in return if they do decide to make a move. For example, rumors have flown around all season about Andrew Bogut, and he himself acknowledged that he has value on the trade market because of his ability in combination with his expiring contract. Deron Williams is another name that’s been mentioned, but you never know what’s true, what’s exaggeration, and what’s just a flat-out rumor. If the Mavericks see guys like Yogi Ferrell and Dwight Powell as potentially significant pieces of the team in the future, it would make sense for them to consider moving some of the veterans on the roster. But Williams, in particular, has been a positive player for most of the season, when healthy. Dallas still has playoff aspirations, so at this point unless the club is getting something of serious value in return, it doesn’t necessarily make sense in competitive terms to trade away good veterans simply for the sake of giving younger guys minutes, unless you think those young guys can help you win now.
The New Orleans Pelicans shook the NBA world by trading for DeMarcus Cousins, pairing him with The Brow. A lot of MFFL think that trade effectively shuts the door on the Mavs’ playoff hopes this year. Your thoughts?
This is still a somewhat sore subject around Dallas, but many thought the Rajon Rondo move would push Dallas over the top in 2014-15. The fact is you never know how a trade is going to affect a team, especially in a situation like this one, with the Pelicans only having 25 games or so to make a move in the West. What if it takes seven or so games for New Orleans to figure things out? What if, during that feeling-out stage, they go 2-5? Their hole becomes even deeper. When you’re working with such a narrow timeframe, you can’t afford any slip-ups. A Davis/Cousins frontcourt definitely looks good at this point for the future, when they’ll have a full offseason and training camp to develop chemistry and construct the roster around them, but the playoff race is now a sprint. Just like the Mavericks, the Pelicans have zero room for error. If they don’t figure things out quickly, they could easily be on the outside looking in come April.
Everyone who follows you knows (or at least should know) you’re a big advanced stats guy. That being said, what advanced stat has really stuck out to you the most so far this season? It can be for the team as a whole or a singular player.
The most eye-popping stat of the season for me is Seth Curry is shooting 48.0 percent from 3 in his last 34 games, a stretch that started the game after his return from injury. That’s incredible shooting, but it doesn’t really count as an “advanced” stat. The most significant number in that regard as it relates to telling the story of this team is Dallas has scored 1.134 points per possession this season with Harrison Barnes at the 4 and Dirk Nowitzki at the 5. The league average is around 1.02 PPP, which tells you the Barnes/Dirk frontcourt has some serious firepower. The flip side, though, is those lineups have allowed 1.142 points per possession, so opponents have been able to match that firepower. The challenge for the Mavs has been finding a way to support Nowitzki defensively while maximizing his offensive advantages as a center, and it’s been really interesting to watch that situation play out over the last month or so.
Something that’s been kind of overshadowed this year, in the NBA community as a whole, is Dirk approaching the unbelievable career milestone of 30,000 points. Obviously the closer we get to that, the more everybody will talk about it, but what’s the vibe around the office right now? Do you have your Dirk “Career Points Counter” bobblehead already preset to 30k points like I do?
It’s something we’re really looking forward to and preparing for, for sure. You’ll find a Dirk points bobblehead on my desk and on many others in the Mavs office. He only needs 93 points to get there, and at this point it’s looking like he’ll be able to reach that milestone at home, which is awesome. Most of his significant scoring achievements the last few years – 25,000 points, reaching the top-10 in scoring, moving past Shaq for sixth all-time – have come on the road, so it would be fantastic for the organization, for Mavs fans, and for Dirk if he can do it at American Airlines Center. If it were me, I’d stop the game for a few minutes to let the fans show their appreciation. This could realistically be the last significant scoring milestone Dirk achieves, unless he can move past Wilt Chamberlain for fifth place. Everyone ought to soak this one in and enjoy it.
Lastly, I mentioned earlier that trade rumors are swirling. I’ve seen the Mavs connected to names like Andre Drummond, Derrick Favors and Jahlil Okafor in recent days. Is there an available player out there right now that would tempt you to give up our 2017 1st round pick? (Just to pitch in my opinion real quick, Drummond is the only one I would consider losing the pick over.)
Due to the nature of my job I can’t talk about other teams’ specific players, but generally speaking it’s becoming pretty clear that the Mavs are committed to keeping their first-round pick this season. The bottom of the West standings is very close at this point, which means their odds of being the No. 3 pick are almost as good as their odds it falling to No. 15. Obviously the higher the pick, the higher the value for Dallas. The organization has made it a point to get younger, and the best way to do that is through the draft, so it makes sense that the Mavericks would want to keep that pick. You can never say never, though, so if a deal comes along that’s too sweet to pass up, maybe Dallas would pull the trigger. Otherwise, though, this will be their chance to prove they can knock a pick out of the park come June.
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