Mark Cuban is better at selling his product — the Dallas Mavericks and the experience of being their fan — than just about any other owner out there. It’s part of how he turned that franchise around. Sure, he spent so they could be competitive on the court, but also he changed the game and fan experience so that Dallas sports fans wanted — no, needed — to be a part of it.
Jump to the start of a new season, one removed from a title, following a summer where they didn’t land Deron Williams or Dwight Howard. Cuban is looking long term but still has a team to sell for this season.
And so he is selling O.J. Mayo as the guy who could step forward. And while you always should be wary of what a salesman tells you, what Cuban told the Dallas Morning News about the former Grizzlies is spot on — this is a defining year for Mayo.
“I think he can be a star and I think O.J. knows that this is his make-or-break, who-am-I-really-going-to-be-in-this-league year. And Coach [Rick Carlisle] is going to give him that opportunity. We’ll see what happens.”
Mayo never seemed to find a comfort zone in a Memphis offense that worked to get Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol the ball in the post. Mayo has been a volume shooter, not an efficient one. He averaged 12.6 points last season but shot just 40.8 percent last season. He took 11 shots a game last season but 7 of them were from beyond 16 feet. He’s been pretty average.
In Dallas Dirk Nowitzki remains option number one, and often option two, but Mayo is going to get his chance. He is going to be asked to score, but you know Cuban and the Mavericks are going to be tracking him with advanced stats and if his shot is off, if the team struggles when he is on the floor, if he is not efficient, his minutes will fade.
And he will have blown this chance. Because Cuban is right. This is it.
The Warriors beat the Rockets by 41 (!) in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals Sunday.
Biggest playoff win in Golden State franchise history.
Biggest playoff loss in Houston franchise history.
Biggest playoff loss ever handed to any team as good as the 65-17 Rockets.
“At the end of the day, it’s one win,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “It doesn’t matter if you win by 40 or if you win by one.”
Maybe it matters more than Green is letting on.
Golden State was the 17th team to -win a playoff game by more than 40 points. Of the previous 16, 15 – including the last 14 – won the series:
The only exception came in my favorite playoff series of all-time, the best-of-three 1956 Western Division semifinals:
- Game 1: St. Louis Hawks 116, Minneapolis Lakers 115
- Game 2: Minneapolis Lakers 133, St. Louis Hawks 75
- Game 3: St. Louis Hawks 116, Minneapolis Lakers 115
So, teams to win a playoff game by more than 40 are 15-0 in best-of-seven or best-of-five series. Will the Rockets buck the trend?
They can make adjustments. Maybe Houston’s strong regular season – better than any above blown-out team’s – indicates a rare capability to recover from this. Andre Iguodala‘s injury hurts Golden State. Teams sometimes make historic comebacks from blowouts, including against the Warriors.
But that Golden State ran toppled the Rockets so decisively in Game 3 suggests the Warriors are hitting a gear Houston won’t keep up with.
The 76ers’ Ben Simmons, Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell, Celtics’ Jayson Tatum and Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma were locks for the All-Rookie first team.
The final seemingly up-for-grabs spot? It went to the Bulls’ Lauri Markkanen, and it wasn’t close.
Here’s the full voting for All-Rookie teams (first-team votes, second-team votes, total voting points):
- Donovan Mitchell, UTA (100-0-200)
- Ben Simmons, PHI (100-0-200)
- Jayson Tatum, BOS (99-1-199)
- Kyle Kuzma, LAL (93-7-193)
- Lauri Markkanen, CHI (76-21-173)
Others receiving votes:
- Bam Adebayo, MIA (0-44-44)
- De'Aaron Fox, SAC (0-34-34)
- O.G. Anunoby, TOR (2-21-25)
- Jarrett Allen, BRK (0-18-18)
- Dillon Brooks, MEM (1-12-14)
- Jordan Bell, GSW (0-5-5)
- Royce O'Neale, UTA (0-4-4)
- Milos Teodosic, LAC (1-1-3)
- Zach Collins, POR (0-3-3)
- Luke Kennard, DET (0-1-1)
- Frank Mason III, SAC (0-1-1)
- Malik Monk, CHA (0-1-1)
- Frank Ntilikina, NYK (0-1-1)
- Semi Ojeleye, BOS (0-1-1)
- Sindarius Thornwell, LAC (0-1-1)
The first team matches our choices.
Dennis Smith Jr. and Josh Jackson are the only selections I’d quibble with. Those two were just so destructive with shooting efficiency and defense. To be fair, they were pressed into larger roles than they were ready for on bad teams. But if the goal is picking the rookies who had the best seasons (what I aim to do), Smith and Jackson didn’t cut it.
However, some voters give more credence to long-term potential, and Smith and Jackson both have plenty of that. Other voters are drawn by bigger per-game numbers, which Smith and Jackson produced in their larger roles. So, it’s minimally surprising they made it.
That one first-team vote for Jackson, though? That’s odd – and it was enough to get him on the second team by one voting point over Heat center Bam Adebayo.
Georgia Tech sophomore shooting guard Josh Okogie nailed the combine. He aced his athletic testing, posting some of the best quickness numbers in the event’s history, and impressed even more with his 5-on-5 play.
Now, it’s time to capitalize.
Okogie appears to be a borderline first-round pick. NBA teams covet versatile wings like him.
Just 19 until September, Okogie is younger than freshmen like DeAndre Ayton, Mohamed Bamba and Michael Porter Jr. So, Okogie looks better on the aging curve than the typical sophomore.
At 6-foot-5 with a 7-foot wingspan, he can defend three – maybe four – positions. He freelances a little too much defensively, but at least he’s active.
Okogie was probably miscast as a go-to offensive player at Georgia Tech. NBA teams won’t similarly lean on his deficient areas – court vision, ball-handling and finishing. He’ll probably be more efficient just spotting up and cutting.
The biggest variable in Okogie’s game is 3-point shooting. Will he reliably make NBA 3s? His form offers reason to believe, but not reason to be convinced.
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Milwaukee’s mayor is expressing concern about police conduct in the stun-gun arrest of Bucks guard Sterling Brown in January.
Mayor Tom Barrett says he’s viewed police video of Brown’s arrest over an alleged parking violation. He did not offer details but has said he has questions about how police acted. The video might be released this week.
Police have shown the body-camera footage to some local officials, including a closed session of a Common Council committee.
Brown was arrested in a Walgreens parking lot about 2 a.m. Jan. 26. Officers had been checking on a vehicle parked across two handicap spaces. Brown was not charged.
The Bucks signed the 6-foot-6 guard from SMU last summer in a deal with the Philadelphia 76ers.