This was a banner year for the Mavericks, not only did they make the playoffs again, but they contended for the best record in the league all the way to the end of the year. The Mavericks were coming off a year that saw them make their first playoff appearance in a long time. With the same team back, everyone expected a better year, but not the year they actually had. The Mavericks came out of the gate kind of slow, but started to get hot about a quarter-way through the season. Then
Michael Finley got hurt. Everyone thought the Mavs would be in big trouble, however, behind the great play of
Steve Nash, and Dirk Nowitzki the Mavs got even hotter. With that surge also came rumors of deals involving Finley. Cuban continued to squash the rumors, but they kept on coming in. Finally Cuban caved in and made a deal…not involving Finley. He traded Tim Hardaway, Juwan Howard, and Donnell Harvey for
Raef Lafrentz, Nick Van
Exel, Tariq Abdul-Wahad, and Avery Johnson. Cuban had put together a team that he thought could win the whole thing right now. There was only one problem…nobody played defense, so if the Mavs had an off-night shooting, they were in deep trouble. This lack of defense showed during their second round series with the Kings. The series was fun to watch because of all the offense, but the games were won by key defensive stops made by the Kings.
So the Mavs season is over, what’s next? The way I see it, there isn’t one player out there who can completely change the way a team plays defense, so the Mavs, as a team, need to concentrate on defense this summer. Their offense will always be there, now they just need to add the defense to the mix. If they can do that they will be a serious contender for the 2003 NBA title.
No. Player Pos Ht Wt B-day College Exp
2 Johnny Newman ......... F 6-7 210 11/28/63 Richmond'86 16
4 Michael Finley ........ G-F 6-7 215 3/6/73 Wisconsin'95 7
5 Avery Johnson ......... G 5-11 180 3/25/65 Southern'88 14
6 Danny Manning ......... F-C 6-10 234 5/17/66 Kansas'88 14
7 Adrian Griffin ........ G-F 6-5 215 7/4/74 Seton Hall'96 3
9 Tariq Abdul-Wahad ..... G-F 6-6 223 11/3/74 San Jose State'98 5
13 Steve Nash ............ G 6-3 195 2/7/74 Santa Clara'96 6
14 Eduardo Najera ........ F 6-8 234 7/11/76 Oklahoma'00 2
16 Wang Zhizhi ........... F 7-1 250 7/8/77 China 2
21 Greg Buckner .......... G 6-4 210 9/16/76 Clemson'98 3
31 Nick Van Exel ......... G 6-1 190 11/27/71 Cincinnati'93 9
41 Dirk Nowitzki ......... F 7-0 245 6/19/78 Germany 4
42 Evan Eschmeyer ........ C 6-11 255 5/30/75 Northwestern'99 3
44 Shawn Bradley ......... C 7-6 265 3/22/72 BYU'94 9
45 Raef LaFrentz ......... C 6-11 240 5/29/76 Kansas'98 4
Head Coach: Don Nelson (Iowa'62)
Assistants: Donn Nelson (Wheaton'86)
Del Harris (Milligan College'59)
Sidney Moncrief (Arkansas'79)
Charlie Parker (Findlay'72)
Trainer: Roger Hinds (Brooklyn College'77)
With Steve Nash the Mavs are set at the point guard position for years to come. Nash had a breakout year in 2002, he averaged 17 ppg, and dished out 8 apg. If for some reason, Nash begins to falter, the Mavs have two very good options behind him. Most people know that one of the people I’m talking about is
Nick Van Exel. When he came over in the trade from Denver, he provided a huge spark plug off the bench. He mainly played the of-guard position, with Nash playing the point, but throughout his entire career, he has played the point, and is very capable of playing the point, should Nash falter.
The other person I was referring to, is Avery
Johnson. He also came over in the trade with Denver. Johnson played well when he got the chance to play in Denver, when the Nuggets decided to bench Van Exel. Johnson was a big part of the Spurs team that won the 1999 NBA title.
This is another position that the Mavs will be set at for years to come.
Michael Finley is just now realizing how good he can be. He is one of the best players in the league at creating, and making, his own shot. Many people thought Finley was on the trading block in the middle of the year, when the Mavs were winning without him. But in reality Cuban never put him up for trade, for a couple reasons. One, people were unsure of how serious the injury was, and how long he would be out. And if it would have a lasting effect on him, teams don’t want tom pay him that much money (his new contract that he signed before the beginning of last year) to sit on the bench. Two, Cuban wouldn’t sign him to a big contract and then trade him away the next year. So based on those two reasons, a trade involving Finley, was and is, highly unlikely.
Adrian Griffin was a big part of the team this year. He started a lot of games, and was the lone Mavs player who knew what the word defense meant. He’s not a great offensive player by any means of the imagination, but he has an okay shot out to about 15-17 feet.
Tariq Abdul-Wahad was once considered a top prospect ( that’s why the Nuggets gave him a huge contract), but has since fallen into relative obscurity. He is a good defender, who might be able to contribute, should the team trade Van Exel, as a 6th or 7th man.
Depending on what position you thin Dirk Nowitzki is, the Mavs are either set at the 3 for a long time, or could use a little help here. I believe Dirk is more of a 4 than he is a 3, so this is one of the positions that the Mavs would look for come draft day. Right now the Mavs have
Eduardo Najera, Johnny
Newman, and Greg Buckner (with Finley, and Griffin playing the 3 sometimes too) at the 3, not exactly a killer lineup. Although all of the previously mentioned players played big roles at one point or another during the season. Buckner’s skills would more suit someone who is 6-10 or above, rather than 6-4, but at times that’s what the Mavs needed, with nobody else going in and doing the dirty work under the boards. Najera is a guy that will give you everything he has, every time he goes out there. He doesn’t have great skills, but he puts out more energy than anyone on the team. Johnny Newman is a solid backup small forward, the only problem is that he was asked to start about half the time during the season. Newman is getting old, so this could be his last year, or last year could have been his last year.
Since I consider Dirk more of a 4 he falls under this column. The Mavs look good here at the 4 spot. They have possibly the best combination of size, shot, and finesse in the league with Dirk Nowitzki, and they have
Raef Lafrentz, who is more of a 4 than a 5. This year Dirk stepped it up big time. He averaged right around 23 ppg, and had around 9 rpg (although those rebounding numbers are not what they should be for a guy who’s 7 foot, with that kind of athletic ability, call me old school, but someone that big and athletic, needs to around 12 boards a game) Dirk emerged as the best player on the team, he moved past Finley with his development this year.
When the Mavs made the trade with the Nuggets, the player everyone talked about was Van Exel, but in truth the player that could be most vital to their success is Lafrentz. Not with his play, but with his trade value. I don’t see the Mavs keeping him around, because he is not what they need, he is a scoring, finesse power forward, who’s playing center. He could be in a deal that ends up landing them Mutumbo or Zo.
The Mavs might look to add a backup power forward in the off-season if they trade Lafrentz, which they should, because he is too good to be a backup power forward, but not good enough to start over Dirk, so I say he gets traded to someone in the east, where he becomes one of the top players and has a good career.
This is the position that I see the Mavs addressing through free agency, or through a trade. I don’t see them getting a great center in the latter portion of the second round. So lets go to free agency, what good centers are out there. There’s Keon Clark, wait, no, he’s a more athletic, less skilled Lafrentz. Okay lets keep moving, how about Scott Williams. This would actually be a decent pick-up, no matter what else they do. Williams is a solid backup center, who is not good enough to start, so the Mavs will look elsewhere. How about Michael Olowakandi. He would put them over the top…in salary cap, no way Cuban spends that much money, I don’t care how rich he is, anyway, the Kandi man is going to the east, so he can dominate for the rest of his career. So free agency is a bust, and the Mavs must turn to the trading block. How about this, the Mavs trade Lafrentz, Van Exel, and maybe some cash to the Heat for some package that includes Zo. The only problem with this, is the uncertainty of Zo’s health. The other possibility is a trade for Mutumbo. The problem with this is that the Mavs want the Mutumbo from a couple years ago, not the Mutumbo now. Whatever the Mavs decide to do, they need to get a top notch center, who will do the dirty work that Lafrentz won’t do.
I almost forgot to mention the center’s on the Mavs roster. Shawn
Bradley, and Evan Eschmeyer. Okay I take back everything I said about trading for Zo or Deke, with these two power houses we can beat everyone…just kidding. The only thing these guys are good for is fouls against Shaq, the only problem is that Shaq is making his free throws so you can’t foul him anymore. So these two guys are good for nothing. Cuban is a great owner, but giving Eschmeyer 30 million dollars (I think the deal was like 6 yrs worth 30 million dollars, something like that) was the worst move ever in free agency.
Yarbourgh, SF, 6'7", Tennessee
The type of player that the Mavs need is a an athletic player who can do everything, and that kind of player, who you can get at this point in the draft, is Tennessee’s Vincent Yarbrough. This is a player who many people thought could have been a lottery pick if he had a good year at Tennessee. Now, he didn’t have a bad year, but he didn’t show what scouts were looking for. However, everyone knew he would be picked relatively early in the 2nd round, based on his athleticism alone. He has a great game, but at times plays a little second fiddle to someone he shouldn’t. If anyone can get this guy to attack the game more, they will make everyone in the draft kick themselves for passing on him.
This guy is perfect for the Mavs. He is an athletic player who will fir in perfectly with the Mavs run’n’gun style of offense. He can hit the three, he can drive, he can score, the only question is his heart,
i.e. Frank Williams.
A high school player is always an intriguing pick because of the potential that they offer. Cooke is projected late 2nd round to not getting drafted at all, so if I picked him here it could end up being one of the biggest minus picks of all time. Anyway, I would rather have Yarbrough anyway.
Basically the same reasoning as above, an intriguing prospect who could pay off in the long run. Once again an athletic player who would fit well with the
I thought of this pick based on the news that I heard, that at the end of the first round into the early second, a lot of foreign players were going to be picked. I researched some foreign players and saw that this guy was the best of the bunch, that was left. He is a 6-8 G-F from Yugoslavia, who is a good shooter, and has a good high, and low post game.
Actual Mavs pick
With the 55 pick in the draft I would recommend that the Mavs select Lenny Cooke. If he doesn’t pan out, so what, he was a late 2nd round pick. But if he comes in and shows some promise, in a couple years when Finley is getting older, you can move him (Finley) to the 3, ala Jordan, and put Cooke at the 2. The Mavs can’t go wrong with this pick.
Off season Plans
- Trade for a Center, like Mutumbo, or Zo
- Get everyone’s mind on DEFENSE!!!!