A Look At The Mavs Without Dirk

Two issues today: The surgery being done on DB.com and the surgery being considered for Dirk Nowitzki. The former is so-far-unsuccessful but on-going; we sit patiently in the waiting room hoping for good news. The latter? A decision is forthcoming, meaning we might need to examine a painful reality: What would this early-season Mavs team look like without Dirk?

For 13 years on DallasBasketball.com, we've endured an assortment of technological challenges, most of those a result of the fact that I (Fish) am just a broken-down ol' sportswriter who is technologically challenged myself. Seriously, when I launched this website, I had just gotten around to understanding email. (Ask my radio producers, Mark Friedman and Justin Frazell, who will happily tell you how I'd write down email replies on a legal pad and make them type and send replies to listeners!) The latest of these challenges is DB.com and the entire Scout.com Network working toward the planned migration to the new FOX Sports Next platform and software.

Well, it's been a bumpy ride. And in this space, while I am not qualified to offer a full explanation of the difficulties, it is my responsibility to offer a full apology to thousands of loyal DB.com readers and Mavs fans who are enduring this sputtering process.
Smoothly transfer accounts? Nope, not exactly. More easily publish stories with expedience? Nope, not quite. Make this week's product well worth your handful of dimes? Dubious, to be sure. Offer clarity to readers throughout the process? The 75-Member Staff, led my Mr. Mak and Steven Carter, continue to attempt to do so.

Your connection to DB.com is what makes it special. And your inability to conveniently connect for the last few days has made for quite a mess.

So many issues are still in flux, so we are returning to the Scout.com platform for now. FOX Sports Next is coming, and the features included make the change worth it – but only if the change is seamless, which has certainly not been the case in recent days. We will be sure to keep you informed when that time arrives. In the meantime, know that I and The 75-Member Staff will do everything necessary to retain your trust, starting this weekend when the Mavs are back home and in action. We'll be inside the locker room, inside the front office and on the court … with videos, photos, scouting reports, inside stuff, interviews and all the exclusive content you've come to expect here.

What you've come to expect looks something like this:

And yes, whether you are investing a dime a day in being here or whether your investment is your valuable time, I hope you'll accept my apology … and a beer on me at our next Mavs Watching Party.

Again, my apologies, and my appreciation for your support and friendship, for the past 13 years and for the past few difficult days as well.

- Fish

What would these Mavs look like without Dirk?

Dirk Nowitzki will possibly need arthroscopic surgery to correct swelling in his right knee. Yes, that's the same knee that's given him problems his whole career. We've already broken down what this means from a medical perspective (and if you truly want to be in-the-know on this subject, we highly suggest this piece co-authored by expert Jeff Stotts), but what will Dirk's absence mean for Dallas on the court?
The short answer is two-part: (1) it's obviously a big hole to fill but (2) we don't really know how big it is yet.

Let's delve into the specifics of how the Mavericks will look to fill this hole.

Dirk's absence opens up a spot in the starting lineup, and the assumption is that Elton Brand will step into Dirk's spot. With respect to Nowitzki, Brand's presence in the starting lineup would be expected to improve the interior defense as a Nowitzki/Kaman back line doesn't exactly instill fear in the hearts of would-be drivers. Brand has already labeled himself the defensive "anchor," and "enforcer." Surgery for Dirk would mean EB will get an immediate and big-minutes chance to back up his words.

Based on matchups, expect to see increased time for Shawn Marion at the PF spot and maybe increased minutes for Brandan Wright. ...a problem, for the moment, because B-Wright is also reporting some leg problems.
Inasmuch as Nowitzki's absence likely won't harm the Dallas defense to a great degree, it is at the other end where things get ugly … maybe.

For so long, the Dallas attack has been based on Nowitzki's considerable talents drawing the lion's share of the defense's attention. Without him, the passing windows, shot looks and driving lanes are that much smaller for everyone else.

That said, we may be dealing with a largely new offense in Dallas this season. There is a new quarterback in Collison, a new gunner in Mayo and a low post presence in Kaman, unprecedented in the Nowitzki era. Yes, yes, we know Carlisle has talked about letting Collison have the keys to this show and even about the continuation of "flow'' offense. But we believe Dallas was going to build to that.

No Dirk might mean less "flow.''

Statistical data doesn't hold much weight here, either, given the massive amount of roster turnover. Historically, in extended periods of Nowitzki's absence, the Mavericks' offense has settled somewhere between "sadly inadequate," and "out of control dumpster fire," due to the lack of other individuals who could create their own shot.
This season, perhaps, the arrival of Collison's ability to drive and Mayo's shooting and Kaman's interior game will be sufficient to keep defenses honest and maintain spacing. Though there is no borderline-elite weapon like Terry waiting on the perimeter, there might be enough options that defenses must pay attention to hopefully allow Dallas to ride out this storm. ... especially if the Mavs truly intend to go uptempo, an idea that seems advisable for a Dirk-less offense.

We would suggest that the preseason now takes on added importance as the new pieces must not only learn the Dallas Mavericks' system, but also learn how to play without the club's top weapon.

All the while also hoping daily for a speedy recovery by The UberMan.

Dallas Basketball Top Stories