MILWAUKEE – This originally was supposed to be the north-of-the-border edition of Big Ed’s weekly mail bag.
Technical difficulties and a shortage of questions that no doubt was Thanksgiving-induced led to a delay in the posting of this.
Sorry about that. Stuff happens.
But it affords me the opportunity to talk about a tough time of the NBA season that is starting. The NFL and college football seasons are getting very interesting. And basketball is taking a clear back seat.
But the good teams know this is a time when you can make bank. Take care of business in December and it can make your life a lot simpler in February and March.
And the vice-versa is true, too. The Mavericks had a brutal December last year when the COVID-19 issues hit them hard. Remember all those 10-day contracts that ran in and out of the Mavericks’ revolving door in the locker room?
Jason Kidd does. And he also remembers how tough it was on the Mavericks to dig out of a sub-.500 hole after the first of the year.
“When you look at COVID, there were two calls you were going to get,” he said. “One was the early results of who was in, who was out. And then there was another call (later in the day) that could say that those guys that were in there were one or two out. Just a lot of moving parts.
“The games were going to continue, so you had to find a way to be a pro.”
The Mavericks are hoping that history does not repeat itself, given the recent rise in COVID-19 concerns.
All that said, it’s on to the questions, which seemed to pick up a little after everybody got over the impact of too much turkey, dressing, Cabernet and Bud Light over the holiday.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK: When I look at this lineup, I just don’t think it has enough juice to make a deep run. I do think it has some trade assets if packaged for a team looking to dump salary or rebuild. Kyrie (Irving) and (Russell) Westbrook are big names that fit that scenario. Your thoughts? BRAD M.
BIG ED: You’re talking about some drama when you speculate about bringing in guys like that. And the price, I think, would be a lot higher than you think it should be. You’d have to gut your key pieces, especially Josh Green and Dorian Finney-Smith, and probably have to toss in a few picks. These are very much risk-reward types of players. And the risk might be too great. I’d rather be patient, see what develops with this team over the next month and then see which teams around the league have slipped into panic/dump mode. Right now, 12 teams in each conference still think they have playoff-caliber rosters (I’m including the Lakers as a concession to their storied past). Not many people are going to be in the mood to sell off assets. And the price won’t go much higher, if it ever does, than it is right now. As with most seasons, wait until the trade deadline gets a little closer on the horizon and things will heat up as the wannabes expose themselves.
QUESTION: We are nearing the quarter-pole of the season, so what’s surprised you the most so far? Will S.
BIG ED: Two things stick out to me – one good and one bad. First off, you have to give a nod of respect to the job the fighting Rick Carlisles have done. Indiana was not expected to be a contender in the Eastern Conference after trading away Domantas Sabonis last season. But they have gotten a budding superstar in Tyrese Haliburton and they might have the rookie of the year in Bennedict Mathurin. Now, have they loaded up on a soft stretch of the schedule? Absolutely. But those wins all count and the Mavericks wish they could have a few of their supposed soft touches back. So kudos to their impressive start. On the other end, the Los Angeles Lakers are a tremendous disappointment. Nobody expected them to be title contenders. But I don’t think many people thought they would be this bad. If the Lakers aren’t working on a total rebuild, they probably ought to at least be considering it.
QUESTION: I enjoy following you and am a lifelong fan of all DFW teams. Curious if you ever follow the Wings. I would really like some insight on what appears to be big-time misses the last few years on high draft picks. Was this the coach’s doing? Was that why she was fired? If not, it seems the front office really botched these picks. But I never see it addressed in any articles I read.
BIG ED: I confess I don’t have any inside information when it comes to the Wings or the WNBA. However, drafts in any sport or any league are always more subjective than people want to think. There’s rarely a LeBron James or a Maya Moore that is an obvious No. 1, can’t-miss pick. In looking back at the last few drafts, a lot of WNBA teams whiffed on their high picks. In 2021, of the first-round picks, none of them have averaged double-figures scoring in their first two seasons. The year before that, only three of 12 first rounders have been averaging double figures for their career. Arike Ogunbowale was No. 5 overall in 2019 and averaged 19.7 points this season. Satou Sabally was a second-overall pick in 2020 and has been a keeper. So don’t go too crazy on the criticism of drafts. The Mavericks caught flak for years and people didn’t take into account that they were almost always drafting late in the first round. It’s hard to hit consistently when you’re that far down in the order. It’s probably just as hard when trying to evaluate talent on the women’s side of the game, too.
QUESTION: What’s your best guess as to what the starting lineup will be for the Mavericks when the playoffs begin? Chris M.
BIG ED: We’ll, it’s a nice, glass-half-full question, at least. The Mavericks woke up Sunday tied for the 10th spot in the Western Conference. Though everybody assumes it’s going to happen – and I agree – there are no guarantees that the playoffs are on their horizon. But for the sake of argument, I like your question and my guess would be Luka, Dorian Finney-Smith, Maxi Kleber, Christian Wood and a player to be named because I don’t think that player is on the roster right now. The Mavericks know as well as anybody they need another ballhandler. I suspect they will beat the bushes to get one before February. Stay tuned. And yes, I wrote this in Milwaukee before news broke of a potential new player arriving in Dallas. That may or may not be the player referenced here, by the way.
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