For the first time since the 1999-00 season, when Michael Finley did it, Dirk Nowitzki didn’t lead the Mavericks in win shares. As Nowitzki missed a large of the 2012-13 season due to injury, Vince Carter, Darren Collison and Shawn Marion passed him in the all-in-one stat.
If the Mavericks have their way, Nowitzki won’t be their top player again. Rick Carlisle on KESN-FM 103.3, as transcribed by The Dallas Morning News:
On if the Mavs’ goal is to make Dirk Nowitzki their second best player:
“It’s definitely a goal. I think it’s a great goal for any team to have a new best player and have their present best player become their second best player. That’s something logical. I think any team would want to have that goal. Is it possible? Yeah, it’s possible. Now, how likely is that? I can’t tell you for sure. But you know Mark (Cuban), you know Donnie (Nelson), and I’m an aggressive guy to and we’re going to do everything possible to facilitate that happening. I can’t name any names, but we’re going to be into this, and we’re going to be aggressive.”
In his last healthy 82-game season Nowitzki posted 11.1 win shares. Only LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Marc Gasol and Stephen Curry bested that total this season. Nowitzki has certainly declined since his 11.1 season, when he led the Mavericks to an NBA title, so the pool of players who could relegate him to No. 2 is bigger than those seven players. But it’s still a fairly small group.
The Mavericks clearly believe they can no longer build a team around Nowitzki and surround him with complementary players, and if their sole goal is a championship, they are correct. Look for more superstar chasing by Dallas this summer.
Watching Monty Williams back on the court at the USA basketball camp/practices in Las Vegas, you could see he was at home. He’s easily the best 44-year-old defender on the planet — he went toe-to-toe with Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, and the rest, was physical, and made them work for buckets. Then he’d instruct. He’s just a natural.
Back in February, Williams’ wife was killed in an auto accident. It devastated the devout family man, in ways it’s hard for us to understand who have never experienced it. He walked away from coaching the rest of the NBA season with the Thunder, and nobody questioned it for a second.
Now, after getting his feet wet with Team USA (where he is an assistant to Mike Krzyzewski), he told Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman he is ready to get back on the sidelines.
“I wouldn’t even think that if I didn’t know, one, my wife would want me to; my kids talk about it all the time. And there have been some things that have happened in my life lately that have allowed me to get that back. I’m so juiced up and ready to get back into it again.”
He is one of the better respected assistant coaches in the league, and a guy who will get another shot at a top spot someday. Soon. Can’t wait to see him back on the sidelines.
The leap from college — even high-level college programs — to the NBA can be hard to describe. Now everybody is bigger, longer, and far more athletic — the guy at the end of the bench barely getting any burn was one of the best players on his college team.
Players get their first taste of that at Summer League. The Sixers’ No. 1 pick Ben Simmons looked pretty good when he got that taste, but you can see the development that needs to go on as well.
He’s spending the time between now and the start of training camp working on his shooting and getting stronger, among other things, he told Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com.
“I think just getting in the gym and making sure I’m getting reps up, shooting-wise, dribbling,” Simmons said earlier this week after an appearance at Sixers Camp in Wayne, Pennsylvania. “The weight room as well, making sure I get my strength back and my weight up.”
All good things. Handles and shooting in particular — he’s about to start seeing much better defenders nightly. It’s going to take time, and we’ll see how far he can go, but Simmons unquestionably brings a lot of skill and potential to the table. That he’s putting in the work is a good sign — that was one of the concerns about him heading into the draft.
New GM Bryan Colangelo is going to benefit from Sam Hinkie’s process. So long as he doesn’t screw it up.
JaVale McGee is getting another shot in the NBA.
He played just 34 games off the bench for Dallas last season. He played 23 games the season before that due to injury.
But the Golden State Warriors are thin up front — Zaza Pachulia will get the bulk of the minutes at the five (when the Warriors use a traditional center), and there is the often-injured Anderson Varejao behind him. The Warriors could use another big. So they are giving McGee a look, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.
This is a low-risk move by the Warriors, and it’s worth the gamble. Vintage McGee, for all his Shaqtin’ a Fool flaws, is far more athletic and a better rim protector than any of the guys the Warriors now have at the five. If it doesn’t work out — and the odds are it will not — they cut him, if it does they pay him a minimum deal.
I hope he makes it, just because the league is more fun when McGee is in it.
At some point, Russell Westbrook will sit down with members of the media and discuss Kevin Durant leaving the Thunder, how he felt about the move, and how it impacted him both personally and professionally.
But not right now. He remains silent.
This Vine making its way around, where Westbrook laughs — probably at the question, although read into that whatever you want — when asked about Durant sums up where we are.
In the full Facebook clip, Westbrook walks away, too. It’s his right. He can talk about it on his schedule.