What we saw the last two weeks was monumnetal but not in the way we imagined. The Dallas Mavericks were absolutely embarassed by the eight-seeded Golden State Warriors in six games and join us in watching the NBA Playoffs from home. And it must be made clear, this embarrasment was much bigger than the NBA Finals collapse of last season.
Yet, these two failures highlighted common weaknesses the Mavs must address in the offseason if they want to take the next step. Cuban says they won't panic and blow up the roster but he better listen to Coach Avery Johnson and realize changes need to be made to this squad if they are to achieve their goals. Here's what I suggest:
1) Add a power post-player- The Mavs need that guy who will draw attention to the paint and away from their jump shooters, since they want to settle for jumpers rather than attack the basket. It's time we stop waiting for Dirk Nowitzki to be that guy. He may be seven feet but he is not a post player. He's great at what he does and can create mismatches but let someone else take the pressure off Dirk so he can focus on raining in jumpers.
Kevin Willis says DeSagana Diop is gaining confidence on the offensive end and, by adding strength in the offseason, will become a force. He hasn't shown enough, as of yet, to throw all your eggs in his basket though. And Pops Mensah-Bonsu has potential but he may be undersized to reign in the paint. So seek outside help to go inside.
2) Get a TRUE point guard. Stop comparing Isaiah Thomas to Jason Terry. Thomas may suck as a front office wonk, but he had heart and skill Terry does not. If point is where you want him to play, he's best suited as a backup bringing points off the bench. The Mavs need to either put the ball in Devin Harris' hands full time and find out if he can do the job, while hoping his jumpshot continues to improve or get a new starting point guard in Dallas. As for Terry, you'll probably need to trade him.
3) Get a mentally tough leader- As I said before, Dirk is great. But let's stop trying to make him something he's not. He's not Michael Jordan or Dwayne Wade or Steve Nash for that matter. He's shown some clutch tendencies but can be taken out of his game and lose confidence. I'd compare him to Scottie Pippen who was a great number two but wilted when the team was on his shoulders. That doesn't mean you need the next Michael Jordan. It just means you need that guy who refuses to fold.
Donnie Nelson, I've done you're homework for you. Now put what we've learned to work. We'll talk again in April.