A Conveyor Belt Of Hope & Humor In Donuts

To the players, the start of camp is like a first day of school that brings old friends and new ones, as well as an endless parade of teachers who all want a moment of your time. But for the Mavs and their followers, it means something else, too: All rivers - from hope to humor - spill from here.

DONUT 1: The conveyor belt Media Day and then the initial days of training camp can mean a lot of different things. For the reporters, it's a buffet of convenience, a conveyor belt of quotes, interviews, and full-roster introductions. For the players, it can arrive as a contradiction, a physically light dedication to tedium, like a first day of school that brings old friends and new ones, as well as an endless parade of teachers who all want a moment of your time.
Ultimately, beyond all the interviews, the photographs, the video vignettes, the avalanching hours of scheduled events, Dallas Mavericks this time of year is something much more simple, much less intricate.

It's a beginning. It's the first official team moment of the coming season. All rivers spill from here.

It's the first line of a novel.

DONUT 1: Boob talk There can be humor, see Dirk Nowitzki reminding us of basic human anatomy when reminding us that he doesn't have "boobs," as he noted when asked if his couple-month-old daughter is a "daddy's girl" yet. As Dirk is prone to do, he answered in flat truth, a truth all fathers can attest to. In the first months of a newborn's life, unless you have boobs to feed them with, they don't have much direct physical use for you.

So, she's not a daddy's girl … yet.

(Mavs Premium Fans are watching the entirety of this Dirk press conference here: Uncut and unfiltered ... all Dirk! Take our 7-day free trial and see it all for yourself!)

DONUT 3: An all-in buying-in Robin? There can be determination bordering on open defiance towards the assessment of outside voices, see Monta Ellis when he said, "I'm gonna get criticized no matter what I do. So, I'm just going to play Monta basketball. If y'all want to criticize, criticize."

Perhaps this isn't exactly what we want to hear given the reputation for shot-hunting inefficiency that preceded his arrival in Dallas, but let's not pretend to know that it must fly in the face of what most Mavs fans want to see from Ellis: an all-in buying-in Robin and occasional Batman who sheds his less-than-economical ways of the recent past.

"We're going to prove a lot of people wrong," Ellis said.

As that statement shows, more than anything else, there is hope. There is the dream of what could be. And, in the Mavs case, there is the unveiling of something almost entirely new.

So Monday and Tuesday and today ... it's the first few lines of a novel, yes. ( If you read our "Top 10 Quotes From Media Day'' you'll see it's a lot of first lines.) but a novel with an impossibly ambiguous cover in this instance.

DONUT 4: Under the cover Much like last season, the degree of change for the Mavericks is so great that predicting how this season's novel will conclude is a fool's errand.

A season ago, the Mavs opening day roster included nine new faces: OJ Mayo, Darren Collison, Dahntay Jones, Elton Brand, Chris Kaman, Bernard James, Jae Crowder, Jared Cunningham and Eddy Curry.

Looking at only the 15 guaranteed contracts, the Mavs arrived at Media Day with nine new faces: Monta Ellis, Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Devin Harris (not on Mavs last season, so still "new"), Wayne Ellington, Shane Larkin, DeJuan Blair, Ricky Ledo and Gal Mekel.

In 2012, the projected starting lineup included only two holdovers from the prior season: Dirk and Shawn Marion. It's sort of comforting to visit with Trix, and to hear him proudly cite Dallas' "veteran savvy.''

For 2013, the projected starting lineup includes only two holdovers from the prior season: Dirk and Marion.

DONUT 5: We're still worshiping Continuity has been sacrificed at the altar of a new direction, at the supposed tomb of "Plan Powder" (or at least the evolution of it). But, with a new direction comes the possibility of something different, something greater. When looking back at the franchise's first failure to reach the playoffs since the 1999-2000 season, isn't that a good thing?

As a championship roster became less and less recognizable, it was easy to lament the roster's evolution. When given the opportunity to banish last season to the rearview, change now comes with some visage of hope.

We don't know what this team will become. We can't know.

What we do know is that 41-41 has been written, filed away.

DONUT 6: Health and hope Dirk says he feels healthier than he did at any point last season, and that he began working out in May, earlier than he has at any point in a "long, long time" (his words). The thought of having The UberMan in his best physical condition since the championship season and possibly available for 29 more of the 82 games than a year ago is reason enough for optimism … for hope.
DONUT 7: Dalembert's D There's hope that Samuel Dalembert will be something on the defensive end that Chris Kaman, last year's starter, simply could not, a strong "communicator" and "rim protector" (using Rick Carlisle's words for roles it's important Dalembert fill).

DONUT 8: Explosive Ellis There's hope that Monta Ellis will justify Dirk saying, "I don't think I've ever played with someone as explosive as Monta." And that Ellis will couple that explosiveness with a return to the efficiency he once knew in his Golden State days.

DONUT 9: The Offensive Orchestrator There's hope that Jose Calderon will prove to be the offensive orchestrator the Mavs sorely missed in the absence of Jason Kidd, a difference maker that helps spread the floor (Calderon led the NBA last year hitting 46.1 percent of his 3-pointers) and is capable of getting the ball where it needs to go when it needs to go there … such a simple concept, and something the Mavs struggled so mightily with last season.

(It's worth noting that our Mike Fisher visited one-on-one with Calderon on Monday and Jose cited Kidd as a playing-style inspiration.)

DONUT 10: Hard-to-match bench? There's hope that a Mavs bench that is projected to include names like Vince Carter, Brandan Wright, Devin Harris, DeJuan Blair and Wayne Ellington, in addition to the rookies and Jae Crowder and Bernard James, can be a dynamic force few are capable of matching.
DONUT 11: Our training camp reports There's hope that there will be a preseason that allows time for a healthy Dirk to adjust to his new teammates, and them to him, time that can aid in the construction of a chemistry that was never truly realized a year ago. That was a theme on Monday when guys were taking photos and it was a theme on Tuesday when the fellas worked up a sweat.

We'll file camp reports throughout the day, with updates from the players and coaches, featuring the same insight and analysis that has been a DB.com trademark for 14 years. We do it here for the Tuesday workout from inside the basement at the AAC, where we let you sneak peeks at practice, let you sit in on Video interviews with Carlisle and Marion, let you in on what's really going on in the AAC basement.

We'll report on it with videos, photos, interviews ... and until a Mavs win-loss record orders us to do otherwise, we'll probably report on the Mavs with some hope.

DONUT 12: The Final Word Just as there is fear in the dark, there's hope in the unknown.

Perhaps, for some, there's hope in the mere fact that this isn't the same roster as last year. It's something new.

For better or worse, the first line of the 2013-14 season has been written … looking forward to the opportunity to read the rest.

And, for today, there is hope … and, unfortunately, a lack of boobs.

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