DONUT 1: EIGHT AIN'T GREAT
I've promised that in this space we aren't going to obsessively dwell on errors in strategy -- those worthy of debate and those that are not at all debatable -- that have plagued our Dallas Mavericks in the post-2011-title era.
But that doesn't mean we aren't going to mention them.
The most recent arguable error is Devin Harris' impactful performance in Game 82 of this lost regular season. Click here for my explanation of why Dallas allowed that game to become a "Showcase Showdown'' and join me in the debate about whether it was "culturally'' wise to do so.
DONUT 2: THE GREEK FREAK (NON-DEBATABLE CATEGORY)
The most resonant of recent errors is the infamous 2013 Draft Day decision by owner Mark Cuban to trade out of Pick No. 15 (which Donnie Nelson had earmarked for a tall, skinny kid from Greece) to Pick No. 18 (which became Shane Larkin, selected by Atlanta for Dallas, but more importantly, which saved a few cap dollars that Cubes had earmarked for the "inevitable'' free-agent signing of Dwight Howard.)
Dwight never came. Larkin never developed. And that "tall, skinny kid from Greece'' became the NBA player who today, in this postseason, may be the league most watchable young star, Giannis Antetokounmpo.
"Watchable,'' but painfully so. From where I sit (and of course I fully acknowledge that the good people of Wisconsin are justified in disagreeing), Giannis was MADE to be a Mav. Donnie and his staff did so much work, building a relationship, creating a bond ... If Giannis landed here, Dallas would've ended up not caring about Dwight making us a bridesmaid, DeAndre Jordan might've been more attracted to the idea of being an adult about his commitment, and the almost endless search for "Dirk's Heir'' would be a done deal.
Instead, in DFW, as he's helped Milwaukee overcome an 0-2 deficit in Round 1 to tie the series 2-all with Toronto heading into tonight's Game 5, we watch The Greek Freak with joy. And pain.
And more pain to come, as those stories about Giannis maybe seeking guidance from a certain coach named "Holger'' keep floating around.
DONUT 3: OK, ABOUT 'EIGHT'
This is a mistake (in my book) that you can debate if you wish. But consider: Dallas' season goal, up until it opted to accept a 33-49 record that will likely net it the ninth spot in this NBA Draft, was essentially to try to fight for the No. 8 spot in the West Playoffs. There was some valiant movement in that direction, no doubt, as the Mavs attempted to live up to coach Rick Carlisle's "underrated shit team'' characterization.
But wait. Get that No. 8 spot, which was eventually secured by Portland, and what do you really get?
You get the Golden State Warriors and what is now a 3-0 series deficit going into tonight's potential series-ender.
Argue that the Blazers are acquiring important "seasoning'' that will help that young bunch bid for its own title someday. But you can't know that; you just think it, and maybe you romanticize it. But just as I wish Dallas had finished sixth-worst so it could draft a kid like De'Aaron Fox (a favorite inside Mavs HQ), there's no real way to know if Portland is better off a) getting its ass kicked in Round 1 or b) skipping the playoffs altogether to instead add another stud young player.
DONUT 4: THE GOOD GUY
In this group of Mavs Donuts I note the "Three Positive Developments'' for Dallas this season. (Yup, just three. Click here.) One of them: The acquisition and development of Harrison Barnes, who is proving to be an All-Star-caliber player and a Hall-of-Fame-caliber person.
The latest example?
He arranged for Pecan Lodge to bring in a gigantic midday feast for Mavs employees.
An appreciative free lunch to the "little people''?
That's a big, big gesture.
Said Dirk of HB: "How he handles himself on and off the court is A-class, and he’s definitely a great guy to build around.”
DONUT 5: AND THEN THERE IS DeANDRE
There are times when I watch the aforementioned DeAndre Jordan when I'm kinda glad I didn't have to end up rooting for him.
DONUT 6: MORE NERLENS
Nerlens Noel is termed a Mavs "priority'' by coach Rick Carlisle, and Nerlens himself has prioritized spending lots of time in Dallas working alongside Rick -- an obviously positive sign regarding his restricted-free-agent mindset.
Is there something specific he's set as a goal -- no, not financially (young max, I assume) ... a workout goal?
Yes. The 6-11, 220-pounder thinks he can add close to 20 pounds of muscle and bulk this offseason, maybe a realistic target given that he's just 23.
DONUT 7: RONDO'S DOWN.
Yeah, what a shame.
DONUT 8: DIRK RISING
Veteran NBA writer Jack McCallum, well-known for his work on "50 Greatest Players'' lists, says he is reconsidering Dirk's spot, thanks in part to a "chat with Marc Stein,'' and concedes, "Yes, I have Dirk too low (37) on this list.''
McCallum is going to find a way to push The UberMan into his top 20, and while I generally don't put much emotion or stock into such things -- hey, I've seen pretty much every game Dirk's ever played, seen lots of his practices, seen how he's conducted himself as a man, you name it, and therefore I'm comfortable with my own ranking of him -- hey ...
Stein is doing God's work here. Because Dirk's legacy truly is that important to the generations of athletes who shouldn't just try to shoot like him, but more, should try to emulate him in even grander ways.
DONUT 9: WHAT YOU GET AT 9
Dallas will likely draft ninth, in desperate hope of there being another Dirk.
How has recent history treated such a pursuit? What can the Mavs expect to get at No. 9? Click here and let’s review …
DONUT 10: SURGE AND SURGERY?
Seth Curry was undoubtedly a revelation this year, and an affordable one at that. So it's all smooth sailin' from here, right? Not so fast. Mavs Premium outlines some hard Seth truths.
DONUT 11: CHANDSOME ON SALE
A Chandler Parsons basketball T-shirt in Memphis is selling for one-third of what a Tony Romo basketball T-shirt is selling for in Dallas?
DONUT 12: THE FINAL WORD
"To never doubt myself." -- The "biggest lesson'' Yogi Ferrell says he learned in his rookie season.