Would Mavs Benefit From Shortened Season?
Could A Shortened Season Actually be Good for the Mavericks? - By Chuck Perry
Aesop once wrote a fable about a hungry fox who spied some luscious-looking grapes hanging high above him on a vine. The fox tried again and again to reach the grapes but they remained just out of his reach. Upon discovering the futility of his efforts, the fox cursed the grapes for sour and decided they weren't ripe anyway and decided he was better off having not ingested ‘sour grapes' in the first place.
If you're still reading you're probably wondering what the hell that story has to do with the NBA and the Dallas Mavericks. The fable above illustrates the way we can rationalize to relieve feelings of cognitive dissonance. In the metaphor, we, consumers of the NBA, are the fox and the unattainable grapes are the upcoming season that seems to continually be put out of reach.
I suspect many of you have come up with rationalizations, like I have, for why this is ok. "No one cares about the NBA until Christmas," (a notion Emperor Palpitine - er, Stern - recently appealed to in his recent comments), "The regular season is useless," "The Mavs don't need to play 82 games before the playoffs roll around again anyway," are all phrases that you might have found yourself uttering at one time or another.
Indeed there are certain grains of truth in all of those rationalizations but it is the latter that I'd like to explore because it seems like it actually might be true, crazy as it sounds.
From an organizational perspective, the loss of regular-season games, no matter how many, represents a loss of income. From a financial standpoint, this benefits no one. This one cuts both ways but the owners are betting that this loss of income will hurt the players more.
They're right, and Fish's exploration of the financial situation of Mavs' Player X represents more players than not. We are now in the stage of the lockout where all that's left is for the players' union to bend the knee and kiss the ring.
It doesn't matter so much how you cut the pie when the size of the pie is continually shrinking.
On the court, the loss of regular-season games will negatively impact some of the Mavericks' plans this season. There are players on this roster who need those minutes. New guys like Rudy and newish guys like Roddy B and DoJo certainly would benefit from spending every second they can developing chemistry with KIDDIRK and others. Should Caron be retained, recapturing the groove he found before rupturing a patellar tendon will certainly take some time. However, as a veteran guy, I imagine this would be less of a time-intensive process than for the younger guys.
The biggest beneficiaries of a shortened season would be the heavy-lifters from last season's Finals run. To put it kindly, the Mavs were not exactly a young team last year and that was before their long-toothed vets added 21 high-intensity playoff games to their considerably extended odometers.
If all goes according to plan, the Mavs will be counting on mostly that same cast of characters to make a run this season.
Jason Kidd is famous for banking seconds of rest wherever and whenever he can. Now imagine the benefit he, Dirk, Jet, Marion, and the rest would gain from two weeks or more of rest. If a whole month of the season is missed, the Mavs would essentially save nearly the same number of games that they played during last year's playoff run. Those savings will certainly benefit old legs during the 2012 playoffs.
Looking at other teams in the league, a shortened season may benefit the Mavs further.
Applying the same logic of chemistry and rest to the rest of the league, the Mavericks look even better by comparison.
* Though the Lakers' veterans could certainly use some rest, they are breaking in a new coach and the team will need time to learn Mike Brown's system and sets.
* The young Grizz will need time to re-assimilate Rudy Gay alongside a still-growing roster.
*Similarly, the Thunder still need to figure out how to synthesize the games of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
* Orlando made a slew of trades last season and, if history is any guide, will need the better part of this season to see the full benefit of those moves. (And to see if Dwight plans to hang around.)
* The Celtics vets certainly could use the time off, but they too made a major trade last season and those new pieces will need time to integrate.
* Most importantly, the SuperFriends down in Miami certainly need more time to figure out how not to cannibalize each others' games and play off each other.
Assuming the major pieces of the roster can be retained (Tyson, JJB, Caron), the Mavericks are fortunate enough to face none of the systemic, on-court issues that other contenders do. Though they certainly could be even better with significant contributions from Roddy B, Rudy and perhaps DoJo, they aren't relying on these players to put them over the top. However if a Caron or a JJB finds employment elsewhere, these advantages will be lessened somewhat.
As champions, the Mavs have the luxury of not needing a significant overhaul. A few minor tweaks here and there, combined with retaining those players that made them successful should be sufficient to contend for the Larry O'Brien for at least one more season. The harmony the Mavericks found at the end of last season, if they can replicate it, should be enough to keep them among the top-tier of the NBA. Everyone else is faced with the challenge of how to knock the Mavs off. However, as noted above, each of these teams faces significant challenges to overcome internally before doing so.
A truncated regular season could be just one more obstacle for these challengers while allowing the Mavs time to rest. Therefore, relative to the rest, the Mavericks stand the most to gain from missed regular-season games.
Perhaps, But It's Just Not Worth It - By Mike Piellucci
Chuck, my friend, as usual you've made some pretty salient points that are tough to argue. So, I won't.
Truth is, I love the idea of the fresh, exceedingly well-rested Uberman and his band of merry men, and we'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who wouldn't be in favor of the competitive advantage Dallas ostensibly would have over its less-adjusted competitors.
If this were just about basketball, then sign me up. Hell, if it were any other season, I'd probably brainwash myself into being OK with all of this under the auspices of an undoubtedly healthier state of living prompted by not consuming hours of hoops every week as ravenously as Eddy Curry at a Golden Corral buffet.
Except, as we're all keenly aware, this isn't a normal season. As amazing as the title run was last season, both for the ones involved and the ones who weren't, the real fun starts the season after. That's when the Mavs reap the fruits of their labor – the banner raising, the rings getting doled out, the inordinate amount of national TV games and media coverage they'll receive, gratuitous use of the phrase "defending champs," the whole shebang.
You know, the same obnoxious stuff that we complain about when other teams win.
So when the NBA canceled the first two weeks of the season, my first thought wasn't that those eight games are relatively meaningless, but that we are now deprived of our chance to watch the Mavs host the first leg of the annual opening night TNT double-header.
And when David Stern ominously predicts a Christmas without basketball should the latest round of labor talks fail, I get pretty pissed off, because for once the Mavs are playing on Christmas Day, and doing so in a Finals rematch, no less.
The trivial things would be missed, too. I want a full year of Jason Terry strutting around the locker room in his championship robe, reminding anyone who cares to listen in postgame interviews that the Mavericks are the reigning NBA champions. I'm looking forward to a full season's worth of DallasBasketball.com stories filled with quotes from Rudy Fernandez about how he's hungry to win his own ring in Dallas, or guys like Corey Brewer, Roddy Beaubois, and Dominique Jones discussing how they want to make an even bigger mark on this year's team. I'm eager to see how Mark Cuban plans to process a season in which he isn't incessantly asked about the team's failures, and more importantly, whether he intends take the Larry O'Brien trophy on a tour of the country after seemingly never letting it out of his sight for the past four months.
Even the inevitable early-season losing streak that every team goes through would be more palatable, if only for the obligatory five-minute segment on NBA Shootaround in which the talking heads are required by law to overreact and wonder what's wrong with the champs … followed by every Mavs fan in America tuning them out and nodding with a patented, "you're damn right we're the champs" grin on full display.
If you celebrated this title at all over the summer, you know exactly the one I'm talking about; if you don't, start practicing now.
Of course, we'll still have those things regardless of how long the lockout plays out. The banner will still be raised on opening night, the rings still handed out, the media coverage still abundant.
But it won't be the same.
Assuming the league starts up in February – the trendy guess at the moment – that leaves just over two-and-a-half months of regular-season games before the playoffs start, meaning we'll get about three weeks of honeymoon period before everyone forgets all about last season's champs in lieu of handicapping this year's prospective winner. With such a small sample size to determine the league's pecking order, speculation and overreaction will rule the day even more than usual. A team that reels off a five-game winning streak will be anointed a juggernaut while a group that drops a similar number will be dismissed, because that mere smattering of games could constitute as much as 15 percent of the season.
As was the case following the 1998 lockout, the league will put the PR machine in hyperdrive and try its damndest to get us all to think ahead to the excitement of playoff basketball rather than look back on a messy labor war that probably could have – and should have – been avoided in the first place. After a winter of basketball discontent, most fans will be eager to play along.
Not here, though, where those three months of soon-to-be-cancelled games were supposed to be the lazy summer of the Mavericks' very first championship reign. The fun should just now be starting, but by the time the truncated season finally commences, we'll be told to wrap it up and move on, to worry about whether the Mavs can keep the title in Dallas after a mere half-season of defending it.
Don't forget; the playoffs are right around the corner already.
I'm tired of worrying. All we've done in the Metroplex for the past decade is worry about whether this team would win a title; now, they have, but nobody gets to enjoy it to the fullest. As significant as the strategic benefits could be, it's not worth the loss of moments we've never seen before, and may not see again for some time.
Do the Mavs benefit the most from rest? Absolutely, but no team loses more in the context of what this regular season means to the organization and to its city.
The lockout isn't worth any of that, which is why our only recourse is to hope against hope that common sense prevails, an agreement is reached and the only casualties are the first two weeks of the season.
Unless, of course, they cancel the whole season, thereby allowing the Mavs to become the only two-year defending champions in NBA history. In that case, tell the union to hold strong!