The Mavericks were so desperate to find a point guard last season, they started Darren Collison, Mike James, Derek Fisher and Dominique Jones in a futile attempt to keep throwing floor generals at the wall until one stuck.
O.J. Mayo started all 82 games at shooting guard, but his play did not impress Rick Carlisle.
There were certainly other factors, but Dallas’ guards were a reason the Mavericks finished 41-41, their worst record in 13 years, and missed the playoffs for the first time in that span.
It’s easy for me to make that assessment now that I’ve seen Dallas’ 2012-13 season, but Dirk Nowitzki could have told you the same thing before it even began.
Mark Cuban on 103.3 ESPN Radio, as transcribed by The Dallas Morning News:
Something that I haven’t said publicly, I remember last year when we went to Europe, and I was kind of excited like I normally am, and we had gotten Darron [Collison], and we had gotten Kaman, and Elton Brand, and O.J., and I thought we kind of were fortunate to get the guys we did, and Dirk came up to me and said, ‘We can’t pass, and we can’t shoot. Our guards aren’t there.’ This is the preseason, and I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ and he’s like, ‘Sorry, bro.’ And Dirk is kind of a Debbie-downer. He and J-Kidd were always that way where it was always the worst ever, and then he digs in and he’s a warrior, but that was the first time I’d ever really heard him say anything that negative, and he was right. This year, you talk to Dirk, and he just smiles and shakes his head. And when you get that out of Dirk, that shows that I think he’s fired up, he’s ready.
Cuban clearly believes in Nowitzki. Just read the rest of that interview for even more Dirk praise from the owner. So, if Nowitzki says he likes this year’s backcourt – newly acquired Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis – that might be good enough for Cuban.
Personally, I still have questions. Can Calderon sustain his level of player into his late 30s? Will Ellis just hog the ball? Whom will either of these two defend?
Calderon and Ellis should be an upgrade over Collison/James/Fisher/Jones and Mayo, and if that’s all Nowitzki and Cuban want, they’ll likely be pleased. This is no longer a backcourt that can be dismissed in the preseason.
Now, if only we could get Nowitzki’s early opinion of Dallas’ aging wings.