Week of January 14th – January 23rd (Includes games @ Reno – 1/15, @ Reno – 1/16, vs. Maine – 1/21, @ Tulsa - 1/22)
Highs and lows were the theme this week for the Texas Legends (11-12) as they went 1-3, but also saw the return of point guard and leader Antonio Daniels. AD was back in the lineup after missing over a month with a hand injury he suffered December 14th. His return also presents an interesting opportunity for the Mavs if all of the cards fall in the right place, which we'll get to.
The Legends started the week by visiting the Reno Bighorns and old summer league friend Jeremy Lin, who is down on assignment from the Golden State Warriors. Despite being borderline decimated by injuries, the Bighorns won both games by scores of 108-95 and 109-102, respectively. We also have a report on the play of Lin to hopefully ease your fears that the Mavs may have missed out on the next John Stockton by not fighting harder to sign Lin as an undrafted free agent this past summer.
Sparked by Antonio's return to the lineup on Friday, the Legends cruised to an easy win over the Maine Red Claws 116-102. The game wasn't even as close as the score suggests, as the Legends had a nearly 30-point cushion for much of the 2nd half. That big win set up "Texoma Tussle V" against the Tulsa 66ers who were red hot with an 11-game winning streak… and they turned it into 12 with a 112-96 win over Texas. The Legends couldn't find their shot all game, and in turn, couldn't duplicate the Mavs' reputation as streakbusters. The season must go on though. And the farm? Well, she keeps on a'growin.
Let's recap shall we?
With Antonio's return and Joe's "Call-Up Watch", there is plenty to focus on in this week's Down On The Farm Report … from Justin Dentmon to the rest … On to the Legends' player evaluations! There were four games this week. As always, these stats are weekly averages (except for Lin, which is his season averages in the D-League).
First off, let's go over "the one that got away" and why he's really not "the one" at all.
The Lin File
Jeremy Lin, G, 17
D-League Stats (Reno Bighorns):
MPG-32, FG-50%, FT-67%, 3FG- 32%, PPG-18.4, RPG-5.3, APG-4.4, SPG-2.0, BPG-0.4, TO-2.9:
What do we know about Jeremy Lin? Well, when we saw him in the summer league for the Mavs, we saw a smart point guard (Harvard will do that) who could score, run an offense, and play adequate perimeter defense, all with below average athleticism…and that's still what he is.
He can get to the basket consistently, but struggles at times with finishing and his assist numbers are a little low for a point guard. He has range, but at this point he is a very streaky shooter, especially during his limited time playing for the Warriors in the NBA. The ceiling for his game is low due to his lack of athleticism, so he barely even seems worth the project for a veteran team like the Mavs. Is he a good, young, talented point guard? Yes. Can he eventually play in the NBA? Sure. Would he compete with JJ Barea for backup point guard minutes? Absolutely not. Are there a lot of players like him that the Mavs could probably find next year? Or the year after? Definitely.
Don't get us wrong, we like Jeremy Lin as a player, but losing him is nothing to sweat over. We would've loved to see him sign a cheap deal and develop under Jason Kidd, but a guy who can't even find consistent minutes for a team like the Warriors right now is not currently a must-have for the Mavs.
Let us consider the matter settled.
Now, onto the Legends!
Antonio Daniels, G, 33
MPG-37, FG-60%, FT-92%, 3FG- 2-5, PPG-15.5, RPG-5.5, APG-9.0, SPG-1.5, BPG-0.0, TO-3.5:
The captain has returned! And he brought some stability to the offense with him, as the Legends saw a much-needed reduction in turnovers this week. When he stepped on the court he had his hand bandaged, but he didn't seem to favor it and he showed no fear while attacking the basket. The whole team looked much more confident with him on the floor. Also, he was a game-high +19 point differential when he was on the court, so it's clear that that confidence produces results.
The most impressive part about Antonio's game is you know exactly what you're going to get, which leads us to this question: If the Mavs still have a need for a quality backup point guard to help save Jason Kidd's minutes after they finish making their moves via trades or whatever it may be, is Antonio Daniels a candidate as a cheap option?
It is obvious that he can run an offense, he produces, he can spread the floor, he is a leader, he has championship experience (Spurs in 1999), and best of all he will be cheap. Antonio is a proven commodity who specializes in areas where the Mavs have issues. If the Mavs are serious about getting Jason Kidd's minutes down, then from where we sit -- courtside at Legends games -- Antonio is at least worth a look since he can be trusted with the reins for 5-10 minutes a night.
We're not saying that he would be the ideal move, but if there are no other options at the latter points of the season, Antonio Daniels is a viable one. Think about it.
Joe Alexander, F, 23
MPG-44, FG-52%, FT-88%, 3FG- 5-12, PPG-22.0, RPG-8.0, APG-4.0, SPG-0.5, BPG-1.3, TO-4.3:
This week, Joe Alexander continued to do everything we've come to expect from him as a Legend. His offensive game expands a little bit every time we watch. You can see his overall "plan" on offense progressing; the improvement in his low post passing was worth noting this week. It was hard even for the Reno Bighorns announcers to keep from gushing about Joe as well, as they kept referring to him as Alexander the Great. Which he is.
The deadline for signing D-Leaguers to 10-day NBA contracts has come and gone… and Joe still sits on the Legends roster. He is the star of the Legends and we stand by our assessment that he will get another shot at the NBA in the near future. What Joe must do now is to stay motivated. He wasn't a guy the Mavs thought they could use when Caron Butler went down with a knee injury. We could've argued his case over the signing of Sasha Pavlovic, but due to Sasha's recent quality starts and his performance in the win against the Lakers, we'll let it slide.
We can see how that could be tough on a player who expects to be in the NBA, but such is the life of a D-Leaguer. As long as Joe continues building on his solid play and keeps displaying his ability to spread the floor at small forward, his next shot in the NBA will be sooner rather than later.
Sean Williams, F/C, 12
MPG-36, FG-53%, FT-67%, 3FG- 2-2, PPG-14.5, RPG-10.3, APG-2.5, SPG-0.3, BPG-4.8, TO-3.8:
Sean is working on a new reputation of late: ironman. He seems to consistently get a knock on his ankle or knee, but he keeps playing. And boy does he keep playing. Despite heavy minutes and recent nagging injuries, Sean's energy is a constant boost to the Legends.
While playing center, the knock on Sean is that he isn't big enough and that was evident in his match up with Cole Aldrich of Tulsa on Saturday. The bulk of Aldrich gave Sean some problems, so it was good to see Williams use his strengths (quickness and athleticism) on Cole in order to gain an advantage. The Legends lost the game, but Sean was the clear winner at the center position.
Additionally, it's time to give Sean a new nickname. After averaging nearly 5 swats a game this week, we've got it. "The Minesweeper". Agreed? Agreed.
Take it and run with it.
Justin Dentmon, G, 4
MPG-42, FG-54%, FT-83%, 3FG- 10-20, PPG-21.0, RPG-4.3, APG-5.0, SPG-1.3, BPG-0.3, TO-4.8:
Last week, Justin Dentmon could do no wrong except for one category…turnovers. With Antonio Daniels out, the point guard duties fell to Justin and while he excelled at scoring and playmaking, the increased usage rate clearly took its toll on him with turnovers.
In the two games this week before AD returned to handle the rock, Justin had 16 turnovers. That is absolutely brutal. There is a light at the end of this tunnel though. In the third and fourth games this week, with Antonio back at PG, Justin had only THREE total turnovers. It's clear that Justin can be one of the most efficiently lethal scorers in the league while not having to worry about running the offense.
That's good news for him and even better news for the Legends.
Booker Woodfox, G, 11
MPG-27, FG-44%, FT-92%, 3FG- 7-20, PPG-14.3, RPG-3.0, APG-1.0, SPG-1.0, BPG-0.0, TO-0.8:
Announcers love using the cliché "instant offense" when they describe Booker, so we'll roll with that this week. Booker continues to be a spark and instant offense (so creative) off the bench for the Legends. Since coming off a couple of poor shooting nights, he has focused on his overall game to quickly get himself into the flow of play. Rather than just setting up camp at the three-point line, he is trying to drive more in order to get an easy basket or a couple free throws. Additionally, he has clearly been concentrating on coming off screens to quickly take his jumpshot (ala Jason Terry or Ray Allen) in order to keep defenders off balance. When he is doing this effectively, the rest of his game opens up. His most impressive stat of the week though is his three total turnovers over the four game span.
Booker is living proof that a team doesn't have to have 35 turnovers a game.
Kelvin Lewis, G, 22
MPG-31, FG-33%, FT-79%, 3FG- 2-13, PPG-10.3, RPG-3.5, APG-2.0, SPG-2.3, BPG-0.0, TO-3.0:
Kelvin's shooting was off a bit this week, specifically from three-point range. He seemed less focused than usual at times, but it may be due to him moving into and out of the starting lineup. Once Antonio is fully back and the rotation is settled down, we expect Kelvin to fall back into his consistent role as well.
Defensively, he was assigned to Lin in the two games against Reno and did an admirable job. Lin is a tough cover and he got the best of Kelvin a few times, but Kelvin made him work by staying in front while in man defense and using great positioning/anticipation while in zone.
Rece Hampton, F, 41
MPG-21, FG-35%, FT-N/A, 3FG- 2-7, PPG-4.5, RPG-4.5, APG-0.8, SPG-0.5, BPG-0.8, TO-1.3:
Rece's minutes fell drastically in the last two games of the week after averaging nearly 35 in the first two. He continues to be a great compliment to Sean and Joe while in the post because of his willingness to do the dirty work. He is his team's Brian Cardinal/Janitor. He even stepped out and hit a few clutch threes this week.
Matt Rogers, F/C, 32
MPG-16, FG-57%, FT-67%, 3FG- 0-1, PPG-6.0, RPG-2.8, APG-0.8, SPG-0.8, BPG-0.8, TO-2.0:
Matt got his first start of the year against Maine, and not coincidentally he had his most effective game of the year. 10 points and 3 rebounds don't scream MVP, but it's how he got those stats that impressed us. Since we began watching him play this year, Matt has looked nervous and uncomfortable much of the time. That wasn't the case on Friday, as Matt looked calm and collected while he worked the offense and smoothly gathered his stats. Maybe he should be called upon for the starting role more often considering how much they dominated the Red Claws in his lone start.
This week's MVP: We're going beyond stats to find this week's Texas Legends MVP. The Legends needed heart, energy, and toughness this past week and they got it from this guy. It's the Ironman, It's the Minesweeper… It's Sean Williams. Congrats Sean, you'll remember this forever.
Here's to a big week and four big wins!
Go Legends and Go Mavs.
Texas Legends Quote of the Week:
"When I first saw him physically on the floor, I thought okay, how's he getting 19 points a game? Now I know. He's just a deadly accurate shooter." –Dan Gustin, Reno Bighorns Play-by-Play man
Upcoming Texas Legends Games (Home Games in Bold):
Monday, Jan 24 vs. Maine Red Claws – 7:00 pm CT
Wednesday, Jan 26 vs. Utah Flash – 7:00 pm CT
Friday, Jan 28 vs. Utah Flash – 7:00 pm CT
Sunday, Jan 30 vs. New Mexico Thunderbirds – 3:00 pm CT
Follow Kevin on twitter @kevinbrolan