We 'Fish Or Cut Bait' On ESPN Mavs Trashing

‘Cuban has to be worried,' says an ESPN ‘Insider' with a bushel of negative takes on the 2011-12 Mavs. 'Kiss my a--,' replies Marion to some of the inaccurate and inane analysis. With 'Trix's help, let's play ‘Fish Or Cut Bait' on ESPN's ‘worrisome Mavs':

Here's the ESPN piece from Tom Haberstroh. The title: "Dallas unlikely to repeat as champs.'' If you can read the 'Insider' takes in full, hey, it's your money. Here's my 'Fish Or Cut Bait' counter-analysis. If you can read this, you are a Mavs Premium Fan ... and hey, it's your money ... better spent:

ESPN INSIDER ASSERTION: The odds are long they will repeat.
FISH OR CUT BAIT? Cut Bait. This prediction is about as deep as a Frisbee. It takes no great basketball intellect to understand that:

*There are 30 teams in the NBA. Almost all 30 of them are trying to win. While the playing field is not completely level, we could round off a beginning-of-season prediction by suggesting that a team might have a 1-in-30 chance of winning in a given year. So yes, predicting a team won't win it all is almost always a safe bet.

*Since 1987, seven times has an NBA team won back-to-back championships. That seems like a lot, except for the fact that it means that 17 times in the 24 years, it DIDN'T happen. Oh, and from '69 to '87, it didn't happen at all.

Maybe this is a function of parity. Or maybe, as I have always argued, it's a function of human nature: Once you climb Mt. Everest, do you go back the next year and do it again?

The reason "the odds are long against the Mavs repeating'' has nothing specific to do with the Mavs, their roster, their management or the new CBA. If, this season, the Thunder or the Lakers or the Celtics or the Raptors or the Heat win the title, the odds will be long for them to repeat in 2012-13, too.

And having said all that (and acknowledging that ESPN wrote this before Vegas has all precincts in): The odds at this moment look like this: Miami Heat 2 to 1, Los Angeles Lakers 5 to 1, Chicago Bulls 15 to 2, Oklahoma City Thunder 15 to 2, Dallas Mavericks 10 to 1. So the Mavs are in the mix. Vegas is on their side as a top-five team.

ESPN INSIDER ASSERTION: Owner Mark Cuban has to be worried. It's true, the outspoken owner of the Dallas Mavericks just watched his team take down the mighty Miami Heat for the 2010-11 championship, so how down could he really be? On one hand, he's sitting prettier than anyone in the league right now with a shiny Larry O'Brien Trophy attached to his hip. But on the other hand, his team stands the most to lose during a potential layoff.
FISH OR CUT BAIT? Cut Bait. This unfortunate mindset moves way too quickly away from the sweet glory of this franchise having won its first-ever title after 31 years of embarrassment and disappointment. The bar is raised, for certain.

But I know I speak for all Mavs fans when I say that we plan to "sit pretty with our shiny trophy.''

Last June, during repeated celebration speeches, Dirk Nowitzki was always quick to say, "They can never take this away from us.''

But I suppose that won't prevent them from trying. There's something else in Tom's paragraph there, though. The Mavs "stand the most to lose during a potential layoff''? We've had numerous DB.com staff meetings to discuss this and related subjects and we've not been able to come up with such a confident take. … What are we missing?

The ESPN piece was written before we all knew there would be a 66-game season and a series of b2b and even b2b2b games. But I continue to believe that Dallas may have an edge there because the Mavs are deep and experienced and bonded ... or they may wear down to the nub.

This is virgin territory. DallasBasketball.com doesn't know the answer for sure. Shame on anybody who pretends they do.

ESPN INSIDER ASSERTION: They're going gray. This was the oldest team in the NBA last season, posting the highest minutes-weighted average age in NBA last season at 30.9 years old.
FISH OR CUT BAIT? Cut Bait. "Average age'' is a number that can be made to dance any way one wishes. Tom tries the Cha-Cha by stating chronological fact ("Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion are both 33 years old'') and he tries to fortify the claims with some kooky "fake facts'':

1 .Jason Terry, at 34, has entered the life-support stage of his career as a shooting guard. We might anticipate a decline at some point. But when last seen, Terry's performance was such that he merits some faith here.

2 Jose Juan Barea might seem like a spring chicken by comparison, but he's already 27 with five seasons under his belt. ESPN is somehow trying to get us to fall for the idea that JJB's five years in the league makes him "an old 27.'' Ridiculous.

3 Half the core that helped earn Dallas' title could be gone. Barea, Caron Butler and Tyson Chandler are set to be free agents next season. More bad math: Caron was not part of the "core,'' as he was injured for the entire second half of the year and all of the playoffs.

I'm not sure what ESPN considers Dallas' "core'' – I would consider it to have been Dirk, TY, Kidd, Marion, DeShawn, JJB, Jet and Haywood. That's eight guys … hard for two guys to constitute half of eight.

Lots of nonsense there, but understand this: Last time I checked, the two oldest teams in the East last year were Boston and Miami. And the oldest teams in the West, joining the Mavs, were the Spurs and the Lakers.

So, based on teams' ages, the teams that are pretty much out of contention for 2011-12 include Boston, Miami, Dallas, San Antonio and the Lakers. Right?

One more note about age: The Mavs going forward will be employing Roddy Beaubois and Dominique Jones in some capacity. Each of them are 23. They subtract from the rotation age. Odom and Vince now add to it. Which way does all that tip the scale? Dirk being 33 and still in his prime IS THE SCALE.

ESPN INSIDER ASSERTION: How many wins is (Tyson Chandler) worth going forward? … Pretending we'd have a full season, if you replaced Chandler with a D-League star, it's estimated it would cost the Mavericks three wins. But that's not what really happens, of course.
FISH OR CUT BAIT? Cut Bait. If "that's not what really happens,'' I'm not sure why it's featured in an ESPN Insider story. Godalmightly I hate advanced stats sometimes.

And considering how hard it is to win a championship in the first place, even the slightest edge that Chandler has over Haywood could be a huge difference. Yet Odom replacing TY would seem to make up for that difference. (It's easy to argue that Odom is a better basketball player than TY, and that is saying so much.)

There is so much we don't yet know about this team and this season. We have a schedule and a signed-off-on CBA. But we don't have much camp or preseason games and even Sunday's opener is going to feel like a bit of a test drive for this team and most others.

ESPN Insider is pretending to know a lot of somethings it cannot know. So it earns "Cut Baits'' across the board.
To me, as it regards generally the willingness of any analysts to denigrate what the Dallas Mavericks have done or sell short their chances of doing it again, I'm with Shawn Marion, who says:

"Look what the media is saying. Look ... what they be saying. They can kiss our a--. I got my hardware. We earned it. We took it."

In other words, at the risk of joining 'Trix in sounding defensive. ... Isn't it a little too early to be trashing a reigning champ that has yet to lose a game?

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