The Mavs have started the season 3-2, playing at a very high pace and scoring lots of points behind future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki and new acquisition Monta Ellis.
Canis Hoopus 2012 draft favorite Jae Crowder is of to a very hot start off the bench, with a TS% of .904. He's 13-19 on three pointers.
We'll have more on this game later, but here are the Qs and As for your morning reading:
1. How is the new Calderon-Ellis backcourt looking so far?
I was cautiously optimistic about Monta coming into the season, and he really does look a more focused player. His constant motor to get to the rim is something we haven't seen in Dallas for a while (since J.J. Barea!?), and he's able to pass the ball as well as he finishes it once on his way to the rim. Calderon confused people by missing all his shots the first couple of games, but he's a steady hand at the point guard position who doesn't turn the ball over. The problem, as we've all known since the summer, is the defense. I think the team chemistry will take longer to develop defensively than on offense, but be it tonight or three months from now, there's no doubt that Dallas' perimeter duo can be exploited.
2. Given the Mavs reputation for using advanced stats, what tools do you think they used to conclude it was wise to invest in those two as a pairing?
If you just went with Monta's efficiency and defensive ratings, the Mavericks would have stayed far, far away. The thinking in Dallas was that stats don't tell the whole story, and looking at the Milwaukee roster and what Ellis was asked to do there, it's understandable to think that he could improve in a better situation with more talent around him. Meanwhile, the Mavericks also had absolute trust in Rick Carlisle, who has a knack for coming up with schemes that hide defensive liabilities. As for Calderon, just a simple look at his fantastic assist-to-turnover ratio helps explain why Dallas would love a guy after the Mavs were their own worst enemy late in games last season.
3. Were you guys happy with the investments and what looks like one last attempt to build with Nowitzki, or would you rather have seen a tear down?
I can't speak for the entirety of the fanbase, but I thought it was the right move. It's not like anyone was expecting the 2010-11 title team to do what they did. To answer this question in it's entirety would take a thousand words because there's so many moving parts and influences on what Dallas did. But the "don't doubt Dirk" motto is one to live by and I'd love to see him back in the playoffs this year.
4. What kinds of roster moves will the Mavs have to make over the next year to position themselves for a serious championship run? Is it even possible for them to do so?
There are still players available and the Mavericks would love to get a young PF/C to put next to Dirk for his final few years. DeMarcus Cousins might be on the outs. Will the Pistons have cap to resign Greg Monroe? We all wish Dallas was in a better in a better position but there's still possibilities left.
5. Why will the Mavs win this game? Why will they lose?
The Mavericks will win if they get out in transition and get easy fast break opportunities, scoring over 100 points for the fifth time in six games. The Mavericks will lose if Minnesota slows it down and has their guards take advantage of the iffy Dallas backcourt.