Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Do you see anything with the defending champion Mavs that can’t be fixed?
Steve Aschburner: The Mavericks are way more Father Time than New Year’s baby. When you couple the advancing years of Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd and Jason Terry with the personnel losses of Tyson Chandler, DeShawn Stephenson, J.J. Barea and Caron Butler, those are serious steps backward, too great for a funk-ified Lamar Odom to patch over. Pride and muscle memory will kick in at some point, but not enough to defend their title with a long playoff run.
Fran Blinebury: Nothing that can’t be fixed by putting Dwight Howard in the middle. The Mavs without Tyson Chandler are back to being the same old, soft-in-the-center defensive pushovers that led to all of those playoff disappointments in the past. It will take time to get Lamar Odom acclimated and, even then, he’s always been a player who has rode up and down throughout his career. Vince Carter at 34 is not the answer in the backcourt. As long as Dirk Nowitzki is upright and healthy, they’re a playoff team, but no threat to repeat.
Scott Howard-Cooper: It can be fixed as soon as Mark Cuban finishes the time machine and Tyson Chandler is transported back to Dallas. Without that defensive anchor, the Mavericks were hit for 105 points and 48.7 percent shooting by the Heat and 115 and 49.4, respectively, by the Nuggets. But same as the Lakers. Give ‘em time before sounding the alarm.
Shaun Powell: With the exception of a brief stretch last summer with Tyson Chandler, the Mavericks’ long nightmare at center continues. That, my friends, can’t be fixed without trading for Dwight Howard. Brendan Haywood is simply following in the immortal footprints of Shawn Bradley and Erick Dampier. I’m not going to knock the Mavs for refusing to re-sign Chandler because if that frees up money for a big free agent next summer, then it was the right move. I will say the Mavs got a little lucky with Tyson, a salary dump by Charlotte last winter who came to Dallas and had a career stretch at the right time.
John Schuhmann: Someone reminded me on Tuesday that the Mavs lost the first four games of the 2006-07 season, and then went 67-11 the rest of the way. So obviously, it’s way too early to draw any real conclusions. The one disturbing number if you’re a Mavs fan is the rebounding percentage that currently ranks 29th in the league and could be attributed to Tyson Chandler’s absence. As long as they’re healthy and somewhat fresh (their depth is key), Dallas will still be tough to beat in the postseason, but I don’t think they can be a top 10 defensive team again without Chandler. And that rebounding number will be one to keep an eye on all year.
Sekou Smith: I see plenty that can’t be fixed without a personnel change, or two. Tyson Chandler is gone. So is DeShawn Stevenson, J.J. Barea and Caron Butler. All of those guys played integral roles for the Mavericks throughout the course of last season and to assume that the Mavericks could lose them and not feel it is beyond foolish. That doesn’t mean Rick Carlisle and his staff won’t figure out ways to overcome those losses. But I think it’s reasonable for the Mavs to feel that pain early on this season.