You ever get roster envy?

You know, you look at another team and their roster starts to look real inviting and you kind of wish that was the team you really had passionate feelings for?

We’re talking basketball here, folks.

It happens to everybody. Just the other day, Toronto came through town and you couldn’t help but see all the young, athletic talent the Raptors have and get a little envious.

You look at the Orlando Magic that beat the Mavericks Wednesday night without marvelous rookie Paolo Banchero and you wonder where they might be two seasons from now.

But before we get all googly-eyed over other teams, let’s all remember that the Mavericks still are a shiny, new penny. Luka Dončić has his best years coming up. It took Dirk Nowitzki eight seasons to make an NBA finals and he didn’t win the ring until his 13th season.

We all hope it doesn’t take that long for this group to get it done. But when you get frustrated – and Wednesday’s loss was infuriating on many levels – look around at some of the other teams in the league and what they are going through.

The Mavericks are relatively problem-free by comparison. So don’t go trading the whole roster for one that might look better on paper. Very few games are won on paper.

Now, on with your questions (and by the way, people, we were a little light this week. I know there are fewer questions when a team is doing well, but let’s ramp up for the holidays with lots of deep thoughts).

Question of the week: Why do the Mavericks play down to the level of competition so much? Dominique L.

Sefko: Sometimes, the simplest questions are the best. And this is one that coaches have been asking themselves and their teams since, oh, probably the 1950s. The best answer, I guess, is that human nature can be a real jerk sometimes. In Orlando on Wednesday, the Mavericks played a Magic team missing its best player (Paolo Banchero). Orlando mucked up the game, slowed it to a crawl and may have unwittingly sent a message to the rest of the league. Luka plays at his own (relatively slow) pace. Slowing it down even more seems like it would play into his hands, and it will, if that’s the steady diet he sees. But everybody’s looking for ways to slow him down. The Mavericks are no different than a lot of teams. They play hard against most every opponent. But they don’t always play well. That’s where the mental side of the game enters. It takes a lot of focus to make sure you don’t cut corners against the league’s riff-raff.

Question: How much longer do we have to put up with JaVale McGee and his nightly bag of nothing? Otis B.

Sefko: OK, I got multiple variations of this question, with most implying that the Mavericks overpaid for a bit player. First off, $5.4 million is hardly getting overpaid in the NBA these days. Now we can quibble about why they offered three years, but the actually salary amount is nothing in the grand scheme of things. And it would be easy to add onto any other assets to make potential trades work. Jason Kidd is tinkering with the rotation, but really, all you have to do with McGee is take the eye test. Last week, there was a game against Utah when Dwight Powell was a plus-25 in 19 minutes and McGee was a minus-7 in eight minutes. Granted, plus/minus is not the tell-all stat. But it’s important. McGee still has skills and there are things he contributes around the basket that will be useful for this team, possibly come playoff time. There will be stints through the year that players ebb and flow. Most players, anyway. Some, like No. 77, don’t do much ebbing, just flowing. As for McGee, the Mavericks learned the hard way against Golden State in the playoffs that being undersized in the middle can really hurt you. Their rebounding was bad. And, admittedly, McGee hasn’t done a whole lot of that yet. But just like you don’t throw away your 9-iron just because you shanked one out of bounds, you don’t ditch a player for a few games that aren’t up to your expectations. Maybe the 9-iron – and McGee – will come back firing. And by the way, I have been known to disown my 9-iron for such offenses.

Question: Is it time for the Mavs to re-evaluate the starting lineup? And more importantly, the closing lineup? Joseph S.

Sefko: You’re too late. Jason Kidd has been doing this nonstop for pretty much the first month of the season, which we almost have reached, by the way. He’s done a little tweaking, and it’s been clear that nobody outside of Luka Dončić and Dorian Finney-Smith has a guaranteed spot on the floor when a razor-close game gets down to the nitty gritty. Even Spencer Dinwiddie was on the bench during the final possessions of one close game. Christian Wood, too. So rest assured, you aren’t the only one evaluating. The good news is this is November. Nobody expects to be a finished product before Thanksgiving. And, as Charles Barkley loved to say, the only meaningful messages sent in December come on Christmas cards. So relax, keep taking notes about who finishes well together. And see if you come to the same conclusions as Kidd. Remember, the eye test often trumps the mountain of analytics that are at everybody’s disposal.

Question: What kind of accountability will take place to address the constant inability to pull out tight games and also take care of bad teams? Brian S.

Sefko: Accountability is something the Mavericks stress. It’s one of their code words, along with resilience. Luka has no problem taking blame when things don’t go well. But he does so much more that teammates know he’s just trying to do the things that leaders do. It’s on everybody to realize the issues and the role each player plays in those problems. If it becomes more than an occasional blip, then it will be up to Kidd to make the right adjustments. But we tend to forget that they just won four in a row before the dud in Orlando. Plenty of time to fix things on the fly.

Twitter: @ESefko

Share and comment

More Mavs News